The first-generation Audi Q7, launched in 2005, was around for a decade. In the automotive world ten years equates to a veritable eternity. But there was, seemingly, method in Audi’s apparent madness. Firstly, the Q7 continued to sell well, even in the twilight of its career. More importantly, perhaps, the follow-up model would be so important that Audi just had to get it right. Either way, it is here now and enters a fiercely contested segment that doesn’t only include old rivals from BMW (X5) and Mercedes-Benz (GLE), but also the new Volvo XC90.
Crisp, yet sombre styling
The first-generation Q7 was often criticised for its somewhat ungainly and bloated design. The new model, though obviously still a large Audi SUV, boasts a significantly more restrained look. If it appears smaller, it is because it is smaller, albeit only slightly so. The bodywork stretches tight over its underpinnings and the lines are crisp and modern. The front-end is dominated by the latest take on Audi’s single-frame grille, and it’s huge. And very, very shiny. The grille is flanked by neatly detailed headlamps that can be specified with Audi’s smart Matrix LED technology – a R38 500 option. Various wheel designs are on offer, too, with most of the 20-inch items costing just shy of R30 000 for a set. Overall, the Q7 errs on the side of caution but such designs often date well. Perhaps Audi is eyeing another ten-year model life?
Fantastically elegant interior
Audi interiors have been among the class leaders for a good few years now, but with the latest TT it has laid down a design direction that is particularly striking. Using strong horizontal themes, virtual cockpit displays and stylish new control interfaces Audi’s designers have created a modern, minimalistic look that has now been applied to the Q7. And it works. Beautifully.
Based on the Volkswagen Group’s new MLB-Evo platform, the Q7 is more than 300kg lighter than its predecessor. You can feel it almost immediately. With a 0-100kph time of 6.9 seconds it is every bit as perky as the slightly more powerful BMW X5 xDrive30d. But straight-line performance is not the Q7’s greatest talent. The lower weight, power delivery characteristics, Quattro all-wheel drive and slick eight-speed automatic transmission combine to deliver a very refined driving experience.
Conclusion and Summary
The new Audi Q7 is one of those cars that doesn’t bowl you over immediately, but rather wins you over slowly. The key ingredients to its slow – but powerful – seduction abilities are refinement and cabin design. This refinement is not restricted to any particular facet of the Q7, but is omnipresent. Similarly, there is precious little to fault in the modern, solid and tech-laden interior. Whatever points the Q7 may lose for its rather bland exterior, the interior more than makes up for it. If it had arrived earlier in the year, we think the Q7 would have been a very, very strong challenger in the Cars Awards. Keep an eye on it as a candidate for some recognition next year.
Audi Q7 3.0TDI quattro Price in South Africa
The Audi Q7 3.0TDI quattro costs R924 000 and comes with a one-year/unlimited km warranty and five-year/100 000 km Maintenance plan. Service intervals are according to the on-board indicator, but can be up to 30 000km apart.