BY ANDREW MUZAMHINDO
Last week we discussed the Audi RS5. A reader from the United Kingdom got in touch and said he found the article edifying but he would never buy an RS5 as he was a family man. He was after something big but sporty and within the Audi family. The Q7 45 TDI might be the one.
SUVs are very much the in thing these days. The bigger the better at times. They make you feel secure, authoritative and macho on the road. You literally look down on other cars parked or driving besides you.
From cheapies to expensive ones, not so luxurious to luxurious ones they all have some claim to being an SUV. Some have become pseudo-sports cars in the process. As long as it is built on a truck frame and is high riding and looks like an SUV, who cares. Car aficionados can however tell charlatans from the real McCoy a mile away.
The Audi Q7 45 TDI Quattro Tiptronic tends to tick all boxes. It is sporty, on the luxurious side and high riding. Some SUVs are heavier, slower and more expensive than their likewise performance-slanted sedan or coupé counterparts, all while trying to hide a loftier centre of gravity. Yet, they’re seldom comfortable. The Q7 is not like that at all.
It shares its platform with sharper-edged Volkswagen Group siblings such as Porsche’s Cayenne and the Lamborghini Urus, Ingolstadt’s second-generation luxury SUV has precisely zero performance pretensions, regardless of the obligatory smattering of words such as “dynamic” and “sporty” in the marketing material.
This refreshed Q7 majors in comfort, luxury and refinement. As with that outgoing range – which was launched in 2015 – there’s just a single engine derivative on offer at launch: the 45 TDI, which draws its urge from an unchanged 3,0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine. The Q7 is still priced either in line with or below its direct German rivals.
Audi kept the old 183 kW and 600 N.m turbocharged four-cylinder but added a new turbocharged 3.0-litre V-6 that uses a 48-volt hybrid system to make 250 Kw, and these powertrains carry over unchanged into 2021. Despite its bulk, when the Q7 is fitted with the optional performance tyres on 21-inch wheels, it feels low and lithe, like a pumped-up sport wagon. The adjustability of the optional air suspension, paired with the added agility of four-wheel steering, makes the Q7 surprisingly fun to flog down a twisty back road. It also rides quite smoothly.
While the exterior styling makeover is by no means minor — led by a fresh grille with upright slats, redesigned headlamps and a chrome strip linking the revised taillamps — it’s inside Audi has made the greatest changes (and where the bulk of your extra cash has seemingly been spent). The updated Q7 ditches the old infotainment architecture in favour of the automaker’s latest stacked twin-touchscreen arrangement, complete with the new Audi Connect system and complemented by a highly configurable standard digital instrument cluster.
The Q7 comes standard with a 10.1-inch infotainment touchscreen and a smaller 8.6-incher located below that to adjust the climate control and vehicle settings. Depending on whether or not you enjoy using touch screens while driving, you may find the new system delightful or devilish. Our staff is split, but Audi’s been busy adding this new infotainment system to its lineup; it can be found in the A6, A7, and A8 sedans, as well as the Q8 SUV. All 2021 Q7 models also come with the Virtual Cockpit digital gauge display, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration. Audiophiles can revel in several audio options, topped by a Bang & Olufsen system with 23 speakers and 1920 watts of juice.
Indeed, the Q7 isn’t the sort of SUV you feel the need to hustle along your favourite slice of twisty tarmac. Instead, it prefers to float along calmly in comfort mode, munching mile after mile with quiet competency.
Sure, the likes of BMW’s X5 and the aforementioned Cayenne offer a decidedly more engaging driving experience. And, yes, something like the Land Rover Discovery boasts a broader set of off-road skills.
But it’s the Q7’s laser-like focus on refinement and comfort that ultimately defines it. And, despite so many of the segment’s contenders chasing performance over practicality, there’s certainly still a place for a softly sprung luxury SUV with lots of space.
Model: Audi Q7 45 TDI Quattro Tiptronic
Engine: 3,0-litre, V6 turbodiesel
Power: 183 kW from 2 900 to 4 500 r/min
Torque: 600 N.m from 1 500 to 3 000 r/min
0-100 km/h: 6,9 seconds
Top Speed: 225 km/h
Fuel Consumption: 8,0 L/100 km
CO2: 210 g/km
Transmission: eight-speed automatic