Auto focus

Review : The new Audi Q7 is almost sinfully good

S Muralidhar | Updated on August 02, 2019 Published on August 02, 2019

Tanking up The Q7 gets three engine options — two diesel and one petrol   -  Tobias Kempe

Audi’s sports utility vehicle gets a comprehensive refresh for the 2020 model year

As is the case with many other luxury car-makers, Audi’s best sellers in India are its sports utility vehicles (SUVs). The Q7, Audi India’s biggest in the segment, is particularly popular, especially amongst buyers for whom it is the second or third luxury vehicle. The Q7’s appeal is its size and space, in addition, of course, to the German brand’s unique take on luxury and its Quattro off-roading prowess.

The Q7’s current generation has had a facelift before, with a redesign that gave it sharper creases, accentuated its upright SUV character and a design language that was more aligned with the rest of the family. But, competitors like the BMW X5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE have blunted the Q7’s edge and a more comprehensive refresh was needed to bring it back into the game. That is what the Q7 gets for its 2020 model year.

Design

The new Q7’s design is an attempt at making it look more robust and aggressive. There has almost been no change in design on either side of vehicle, except for a choice of new 19-inch rims. The same parallel lines defining the stance of the Q7, and the sharp creases that run across as the shoulder and side character lines have been retained.

The new Q7 is a whiff longer than the predecessor (+11 mm), but the wheelbase, width and the height of the vehicle remain the same. The boot space available ranges from 865 to 2,050 litres, depending on how many seats are in use. The big change in design is in the front of the new Q7, where the previous model’s grille has been replaced with the large octagonal single-frame; finished in matte-aluminium in many trim variants. The grille now features six vertical slats instead of the horizontal ones we have seen in the past.

 

While the grille grabs your attention and does alter the design perception, the headlights also contribute with the new LED light combination. HD Matrix LED lights with Audi Laserlight are optional additions. The side air inlets also get a redesign with twin sections and a three-dimensional line connecting them. At the rear, the tail-lamps have been restyled with a flatter, thinner profile and a new LED DRL configuration.

There is also the addition of a new chrome strip that runs across the tailgate connecting the two tail-lamps. The rear of the new Q7 now looks wider and squatter visually, though there has been no change in dimensions compared to the predecessor. The sill area in the front and the diffuser and underbody protector at the rear are meant to highlight the off-road capability of the new model. The new Q7 now looks less bulky thanks in large part to the chiseled panels. The design is now sportier and aggressive, though not everyone will like the new vertical slatted grille.

A couple of weeks ago, I had travelled to Kerry in Ireland just for a few hours to join Audi’s international media test drive programme. The shiny red Q7 and its new LED signatures stood out in the low ambient light and overcast conditions at Kerry.

Cabin

The Q7 was Audi’s flagship SUV and the cabin was a reflection of that status. But it has been looking dated in comparison to a few of the new competing models in that price range. It was good to see that Audi designers had decided to bring a lot of the Q8’s interior design and features into the Q7. The Q8, Audi’s new flagship SUV, has a modern cabin with a number of unique luxury trim elements, which have elevated the premiumness of the interior. The new Q7’s cabin continues to be one of the most spacious in the segment, but it now also feels more luxurious. The new model also continues to be offered with a five-seater and seven-seater configuration, with all the seats being electrically foldable and the second row seat backrest can be reclined.

 

The dashboard is a mix of elegant leather, metal and polished wood trim, with two touchscreens combining to control most of the infotainment and climate control functions. The touchscreens offer haptic and audible feedback during use. The instrument cluster is an updated version of the Audi virtual cockpit, the standout feature in Audi’s cars especially where 3D maps are available. The MMI now incorporates Amazon Alexa and the Car-to-X service traffic light information. Some of the other features in the new Q7’s cabin that elevated the experience are the refreshed Bang & Olufsen music system and the sports seats in my S-Trim variant.

Performance

The new Q7 is being offered with three engine options, two of them are diesel and the other the 3.0-litre TFSI petrol engine. The 3.0-litre TDI diesel is offered in two states of tune (286 hp and 231 hp) and there is expected to be a plug-in hybrid sometime maybe next year. I drove the Q7 55 TFSI with its three-litre V6 and 340 hp of peak output and 500 Nm of torque. I don’t know if there was any symbolism, but the drive was a 180-kilometre loop from Kerry airport and the route was called the ‘Ring of Kerry’. All of the new Q7 model versions feature the eight-speed triptronic auto transmission and Audi’s Quattro permanent all-wheel drive tech. Top speeds range from 230 to 250 kmph.

All the powertrains in the new Q7 get the addition of the mild hybrid system, which boosts engine efficiency and can apparently deliver up to 0.7 litres per 100 km. The central components of the system are a belt alternator and a 48-volt compact battery electric system. Being a mild hybrid, while the system features all the regulars like start/stop, coasting in idle and brake energy regeneration, it primarily offers parallel assist.

The roads around Kerry were mostly narrow and in parts single carriageways winding uphill. So, experiencing the new Q7 anywhere close to its limits was impossible. It was more frustrating to know that the new model also offers an optimised version of all-wheel steering. My test mule also featured the optional adaptive air suspension, which can be specified with active roll stabilisation for reduced body and a higher level of dynamic performance.

The Bottomline

The new Q7’s off-road prowess couldn’t be put to test, but there is no reason to doubt its capabilities. There are seven profiles to choose from in off-road mode.

Amongst its other performance metrics, I liked the steering, which was precise and nicely centre-weighted. A longer test drive will offer more first-hand insights into the new model’s dynamic abilities, but the five hours behind the wheel was still enjoyable and interesting.

The new Q7’s powertrain is more responsive, the suspension feels better than the current model and there are more reasons to like the cabin than before. All of this should make a difference when the new Q7 comes to our shores by mid-2020.

Published on August 02, 2019
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor