Audi Q7 160kW road test and review
WITH more than 700 units already sold this year, the new Audi Q7 launched late in 2015 is more than holding its own in the growing luxury SUV market.
Still, a starting price in excess of $103,000 is no small change, and an obvious stumbling block to those aspirant buyers who find it just beyond reach.
Then there's the 160kW 3.0 TDI variant, an entry-level option that misses out on some of Audi's more refined touches but retains the ability to deliver on the Q7 promise.
Available from $96,300, it is not cheap, but loses enough of the sting that it becomes a more viable option.
This entry-level Q7 may be kinder on the hip pocket, but the quality interior is certainly not a reflection of the drop in price. The accommodation remains luxurious, with deliciously supple two-tone leather, stitched trim and soft-touch plastics setting the tone.
Audi's MMI infotainment system with 8.3-inch colour screen takes pride of place here, too, and although the touch-sensitive control panel takes up a bit of space, it is intuitive and pleasantly easy to use.
This Q7 is a touch smaller than its predecessor, yet feels roomier, with more give for broad shoulders and improved head room in the rear. All seats are super comfortable and contoured to give the perfect fit, with a range of variations available, including ventilated offerings with a massage function.
The boot is a useful 295 litres, growing to 770l and 1955l, with the third and second row lowered.
On the road
This Q7 sports the same engine as that which powers its 200kW big brother, but with a different tune and a standard steel suspension instead of the adaptive air setup. "Same, same, but different" may be the phrase here, because this latest addition seems to lack for little in power or overall performance.
Yes, it occasionally needs a little bit of urging during highway overtaking, but by and large, it is a no-nonsense performer, allowing you to travel in style.
It is quiet - almost eerily so - not giving up its diesel heart even when pushed, with the engine gelling well with an eight-speed tiptronic transmission that could not be faulted in its journey through the gears.
The Q7 offers more than confidence and comfort. It's almost as if it glides across the road surface, paying scant heed to bumps and corrugations, with progress aided by an electromechanical power steering, which surprisingly offers good feedback.
What do you get?
At this price, standard inclusions involve 19-inch alloys, Xenon plus headlights with high beam assist, DAB+ digital radio, MMI Navigation with 8-inch touch screen, rear-view camera with parking sensors, leather upholstery, electronically adjustable front seats with driver's memory and driver information system with 7-inch colour touch screen.
As with most luxury brands, you do have a choice of add-on packages, with the S line Exterior Package ($8760) giving you sporty exterior trim, LED headlights with dynamic rear indicators and 20-inch alloys. Audi is proud the Q7 offers one of the highest levels of safety assistance systems, but while you get 8 airbags, Pre-sense basic and side assist, you would have to add the Assistance Package ($4075) if you want adaptive cruise control, active lane assist, traffic jam assist and turn assist.
Buyers are often happy to trade fuel efficiency for seven seats, but the Q7 impressed with its frugality. Our figures hovered around 7.9l/100km after our 600km launch program, more than the claimed 5.8l/100km, but extremely kind for a two-tonne vehicle.
Contenders include the Mercedes-Benz GLS (from $116,900), Range Rover Sport (from $102,400), BMW X5 (from $100,400), Volvo XC90 (from $89,950) and Porsche Cayenne S (from $144,400).
Seven-seaters are sought after by families with three or more kids or those who often taxi friends as well. One with the style and beautiful road manners of the Q7 brings a wonderful advantage. While there is a negligible real-world difference in pulling power between the 160kW and 200kW, the latter does have some useful niceties like the virtual cockpit and head-up display (an option only in the 160kW).
But it remains rather practical, with a second row that moves forward and back. The outer pews fold double to access the third row.
The last row is large enough to seat adults in comfort and flips flat at the touch of a button. The doors are large and open wide on their hinges to facilitate entry and exit, and the powered tailgate can be opened with gesture control - a kicking motion with the foot.
The Q7 is big, really big - 5 metres long, 1.97m wide and 1.74m tall - but is prevented from looking cumbersome by sleek proportions and clean lines.
The trademark grille is lower and wider than the outgoing model, and together with the sculptured headlights and large wheel arches, give the Q7 a purposeful, confident appeal.
Base models rarely feel the love, but the 160kW Q7 is no ordinary budget option. It is a refined package with the technological smarts, build quality and luxury touches that we expect from an SUV of this ilk.
If you need a seven-seater (and even if you don't) with style and poise, one that offers an effortless drive, then the Q7 is an option worth exploring.
Model: Audi Q7 160kW.
Details: Five-door all-wheel-drive large luxury SUV.
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel generating maximum power of 160kW @ 3250-4700rpm and peak torque of 500Nm @ 1250-3000rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed tiptronic auto.
Consumption: 5.8 litres/100km combined.
Bottom line plus on-roads: From $94,630.
What matters most
What we liked: Refined drive, luxurious touches, smart seating.
What we'd like to see: Head up display and top-end safety features as standard.
Warranty and servicing: 3-year unlimited-kilometre warranty with servicing at 12 months or 15,000km.
Driving experience 18/20
Features and equipment 17/20
Functionality and comfort 18/20
Value for money 17/20
Style and design 18/20