The new Audi Q7 represents a new superlative in the SUV (Sport Utility Vehicles) segment. It produces the performance of a sports car on the road, while redefining the boundaries of a vehicle in this category off-road. The sporty characteristics of the Audi Q7 are further enhanced by the equipment package “S line sports package plus”: sports suspension, sports seats and cast aluminium wheels up to 21 inches in size turn the performance SUV into an athlete. The “S line exterior package” is the new sporty custom-made outfit for the Audi Q7 that adds attractive visual touches on the outside. The two equipment packages from quattro GmbH can be ordered separately or together from the middle of 2006. The Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro and the Audi Q7 4.2 FSI quattro will be launched in Germany at the start of March 2006.
S line sports package plus
The new “S line sports package plus” for the Audi Q7 from quattro GmbH gives the performance SUV an even more emotional and sporty character. With its dynamic spring/shock absorber settings, the S line sports suspension conveys pure driving pleasure. The vehicle is lowered by 10 millimetres compared with models fitted with the standard suspension. 9Jx20 cast aluminium wheels of 5 spoke design with size 275/45 R 20 tyres give the vehicle its athletic appearance. S line logos on the front left and right wings and on the door sill trims are further distinguishing features of the Audi Q7 S line.
Inside the vehicle, electrically adjustable front sports seats in a combination of Alcantara/Leather and with an embossed S line logo on the backrests provide excellent lateral support. The 3-spoke leather multifunction sports steering wheel with S line emblem and the gear lever gaiter are covered in smooth black leather, the gear knob in perforated leather.
The black trimmed interior and headlining contrast with the matt brushed S line aluminium inlays to produce additional sporty touches. Fine grain birch wood grey inlays can be ordered as an alternative. The Audi driver information system is also part of the package.
20-inch cast aluminium wheels of 20-spoke design or 21-inch cast aluminium wheels of 7 twin-spoke design are available as an option. Thanks to the optionally available shift paddles on the leather multifunction steering wheel, the driver can also change the gears of the 6-speed tiptronic automatic transmission manually, without taking his or her hands off the steering wheel. In addition to the standard colours, the exclusive exterior colours Daytona Grey, pearl effect and Mugello Blue, pearl effect are offered as options.
S line exterior package
The “S line exterior package” for the Audi Q7 comprises particularly attractive components. The front bumper, the side cooling grilles, the lower door trims and the diffuser insert all have a striking sporty design. The lower sections of the front and rear bumpers, the lower door trims and the diffuser insert are all painted in the body colour, the radiator grille is painted Brilliant Black. The package includes S line logos on the front wings and the door sill trims as well as a headlight washer system.
The “S line sports package plus” costs €5,290 for the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro and €2,980 for the Audi Q7 4.2 FSI quattro. The “S line exterior package” costs €1,900 for both models. A price discount of €200 is offered if the “S line exterior package” is ordered in conjunction with the “S line sports package plus”.
New kit for the Q7 includes an adaptive package for the cruise control that uses short-wave radar to maintain a preset speed and distance from the car in front by braking and accelerating. This operates from a standstill to 124mph and will also warn if the vehicle is too close to the car in front by pulsing the brake pedal. It is probably just about worth the extra £1,225.
The side radar, though, isn’t worth £450. This warns of a hazard in the rear-three-quarter blind spot. It’s for people too lazy to look over their shoulder before changing lanes and it didn’t seem to work very well. On one occasion, a motorcycle was riding alongside us, invisible in the mirrors and undetected by the system.
The whole cabin is finished with a cast-iron craft and zeal. The Q7 defies fashion, but embodies style. Audi can be a pompous company, but it makes interiors that look as good today as they will when your grandchildren are dropping hints that you should surrender your licence.
Audi allowed a few journalists to drive the car in Germany last month, but the main press corps was flown at vast expense to Phoenix, Arizona to experience the car in temperatures, road conditions and at gastropodic, rigidly police-enforced speeds entirely alien to frozen Europe.
So we fired up the diesel and trundled out of the risqué end of this desert state’s capital. Past Camelback Mountain and the local traders: Smoking Lingerie, Divorce Care and Recovery and Zorba Adultshop. The 3.0-litre V6 sizzles like bacon and eggs as it pulls away from the lights.
It is well suited to the six-speed auto ‘box, seldom stuck for a ratio, with a purposeful growl and lots of oomph, at least up to 70mph, where the weight and aerodynamics of the leviathan sap the performance. It is not economical, though, and with an around-town fuel consumption of less than 20mpg, the Q7 is never going to be cheap to run.
It certainly won’t be if you opt for the 4.2-litre V8 petrol, which is also impressively growly and quick, but which slurps fuel at a frightening rate of 20.8mpg overall, 14.5mpg Urban. The narrow-angle 3.2-litre V6 option, which is from the Phaeton and Golf R32, saves a bit in consumption, but it is very vocal to drive and seems to work hard even cruising at 70mph.
The air suspension has three separate settings for off-road, comfort and dynamic driving. Each one has its own calibrations for springs, dampers, ride height and the electronic stability program. There is also a can’t-be-bothered automatic setting and another to increase the ride height for clambering.
At low speeds, the ride is unpleasantly harsh, with the big tyres ricocheting off cat’s eyes and broken surfaces. I wasn’t the only person to think: “We’ll switch to comfort mode – oh, it is in comfort mode.” Speed up and the ride evens out a little, while the more sporting dynamic mode restricts body roll, rather than just hardening up the damping and making your teeth ache.
The body control is uncanny. Drive the Audi as hard as you can and it never flops or flaps about, remaining positive, well damped, propped up and shipshape. The steering is superbly weighted, accurate to a fault and almost pointlessly competent considering that for 99.9 per cent of owners the main point of owning a Q7 will be the cup holders and the ability to see into other people’s gardens.
Off-road the Q7 is all hat and no cattle. The four-wheel-drive system is about traction on the road diverting power between wheels to ensure stable progress in slippery conditions: ice and gravel, rather than bogs and mountains.
The extra ground clearance and hill-descent control allow a little more freedom to roam, but there is no transfer box to reduce speeds and multiply torque, so the Q7 is quite limited in its abilities. For the launch, Audi craned a Q7 into a precarious position on the side of a mountain. Close inspection revealed that in expert hands and with a bit of sly winching, you could probably have driven a Land Rover Defender up there.
As with all Audis, the Q7 looks quite good value, but if you dally too long at the options list you will feel as if you have been plundered by the pirates of the Caribbean. Choose any colour but black and you will pay another £650, which is disgraceful.
Quite what the Q7 is for is another matter entirely. When the post-oil-age history of the world is written, students will shake their head in wonder at machines such as this. The rich, it seems, don’t have to worry about diminishing resources.
So when you are left wobbling in the wake of this latest German SUV, don’t bother waving your fist at its occupants. They’re going to end up in a place that even Hieronymus Bosch couldn’t dream up.
There are long Qs forming outside Audi dealerships, and not everyone is asking for a brand new TT. They’ve got something bigger on their minds – the firm’s first-ever SUV, the Q7. Auto Express took to the road to see how it shapes up. First impressions are that the Q7 is certainly a big and brash-looking off-roader and, inside, there’s plenty of space with seating for seven. Our test car boasted a 345bhp 4.2-litre FSI V8 engine, which provides thrilling if thirsty performance while through corners the Q7 feels just as nimble as a BMW X5. At £48,625 for the range-topping S line model tested here, it’s not cheap, but it is sure to keep Audi’s salesmen busy this summer.