Starting Gun for the SUV Race


There are few car launches that have created the same level of frenzied anticipation as the new Audi Q7. First previewed back in March via a selection of unusually detailed press photos, Audi’s premium SUV has had the likes of the BMW X5 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE in its sights for some time now, and it’s finally time to pull the trigger.

It’s hard to believe that Audi have only been producing SUVs for 10 years, entering the market with the first generation Q7, a car that has gone on to achieve sales of 500,000 worldwide and broken new ground for the SUV market.

It’s clear that Audi is aiming for even greater success with this, the second generation Q7, and with a lighter and stiffer platform, impressive interior and a mighty 3.0 litre V6 engine, the German manufacturer is set to extend its fan base even further.

The Q7’s new design is certainly a head turner, with a slightly reduced outer shell doing little to lessen its impact on the road. Extra lines and an enlarged chrome grille also add an extra bit of class to proceedings and should help the Q7 gain greater traction among executives keen to make a memorable first impression.

As will its seven seats, which are just at home ferrying your colleagues around as they are taking a large family out for the day or, with the rear seats folded and adjusted, giving way to a jaw dropping 1,955 litres of load space.

However, the real magic lies in the Q7’s kerb weight, which is a startling 325kg lighter than its predecessor. This is made possible by the sheer amount of lightweight materials Audi has used, with 40% of the car’s bodywork made from aluminium.

I certainly felt the difference, with the lightweight feel of the drive creating the illusion that I was in control of a much smaller car. And I’m not talking the Q5 here.  Given how smooth the Q7’s handling was around the winding roads of the Northumberland countryside, you could be mistaken for thinking you were in the company of one of Audi’s compact models.

This illusion is maintained by the Q7’s frankly superb 3.0 litre diesel V6 TDI engine, which produces 268bhp and powered me from 0-60mph in 6.2 seconds, with a punch to the acceleration that left any preconceived ideas of what an SUV is capable of in the dust. Not that such heavy acceleration would be noticeable to your rear passengers, with Audi’s typical zero tolerance for cabin noise in full force as I zipped through the Q7’s 8-speed automatic gearbox.

The interior is also typical of Audi in that it is comfortably one of the best in its class. Audi’s intelligent ‘Virtual Cockpit’, which works so well in the TT, is here, as is a larger touch pad that allows you to easily handwrite instructions to your sat-nav.   

However, the Q7 shies away from taking too many stylistic cues from the TT, swapping its elaborate aviation-inspired air vents for a more streamlined dashboard, while adding extra touches such as a larger palm-filling gear stick, an adjustable dual arm rest and suede side panels.

It’s clear that Audi have designed the new Q7 with love in their hearts and a spring in their step. This is a considered, well-thought-out SUV, with its pitch perfect design matched by performance that packs a real punch. The Q7 fan club definitely won’t be left disappointed.

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