Is this an Avant?
Erm no, it’s the new Audi Q7 – the big seven seat SUV that competes against the likes of the Volvo XC90 (which we tested recently in impressive T5 petrol and plug-in hybrid guises) and the BMW X5. It’s considerably lighter – more than 300kg less fat in 3.0 TDI mode, or in this case, 310kg for the V6 supercharged petrol model.
What is this, an SUV for ants?
No Derek. Like its sports car cousin, the TT, the Q7 bucks a trend by being smaller overall – 37mm shorter and 15mm narrower – and there’s less space between the wheels (3,003mm before, now 2,994mm) but Audi claims there’s even more interior room now, thanks to better packaging.
It has to be at least three times this big!
No not really. There’s a huge amount of room for every conceivable appendage a human has (heads, legs, arms of course) and with the seats away, you have 770-litres of boot space, which can be expanded to 1,955-litres if you stow the second row away.
Third row access is good, as the second row thrones fold up and out to allow access. Like others in the segment, the last row is best reserved for children, but adults will do fine on shorter journeys. Also the third row now can be folded or deployed electronically – more work for your fingers and less for your biceps.
WATCH MORE: Check out our video walkthrough of the new Audi Q7’s interior
So it’s practical. Is it flashy in other areas?
Again, like the TT, Audi has taken a radical step with the interior: The Q7 is packed chock full of technology, even more than the TT and perhaps to a fault, since it now comes with a steeper learning curve. But once immersed into it, like an Apple product, you’ll be swiping and Siri-ing your way to driving ease with Audi’s new range of internet connected services like Google search integrated into the navigation, and on-board wifi.
Or at least that’s the idea: technophobes won’t like the proliferation of the ‘glass cockpit’, as there are two screens, and two control options – rotary dial on the steering wheel and a conventional MMI controller and touch pad. But it does let your shotgun passenger handle some of the ‘pilot workload’, as the two can be used simultaneously.
The old Q7 was a bit of an elephant…
In 6.0-litre V12 TDI guise especially, it was a raging bull elephant. The new car isn’t just lighter, but also has lots of aids to make it handle: all-wheel drive, of course, but also air suspension and four-wheel steering.
All of this makes it handle better than any large SUV has a right to, especially in mountain roads. It’s not a roaring beast like say, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, but it tiptoes easily through tight mountain roads and hairpins, and is supremely refined on the highway as well. The supercharged V6 is a familiar Audi unit, but with the lighter car it feels punchy and almost diesel-like.
There are two diesel 3.0 variants but these have not been confirmed for Singapore as yet, while a plug-n e-tron model (competing with the X5, XC90 and Cayenne S E-Hybrid) will be made available globally next year.
So it’s good?
Yes, it’s quite enough to make the Q7 a winner, at least on paper, but Audi has also packed it full of new safety features such as pedestrian detection, turn assist (stops you from turning into oncoming traffic) and other clever touches such as doors that flash to warn you if you’re about to step into the path of a zealous pedelec or car.
The final question mark is how much the car will cost here – but in a local market very concerned about seats-per-dollar, even in the now-very expensive ARF-loaded luxury segment, the Q7 seems designed to do well.
Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI 7-seat
Engine 2,995cc 24V, V6, supercharged
Power 333bhp at 5500-6500rpm
Torque 440Nm at 2900-5300rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100kmh 6.3 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.9L/100km
Availability Q4 2016