Audi Q7 SUV (2015 -) Driving & Performance

Review by Graeme Lambert on
Last Updated: 08 Oct 2015
4
Since it was introduced in 2006 the Audi Q7 has found over 500,000 homes, and finally, nine years later, an all-new model has arrived on UK shores. To most – beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all – this Q7 is anything but a ‘looker’ yet this new car promises to be the best to drive and most technically advanced SUV from the firm yet.

4 out of 5

Performance

Here in the UK Audi Q7 performance is taken care of by a pair of diesel engines only, both 3-litres in capacity but with differing outputs of 215bhp and 268bhp.

Standard-power 3-litre diesel

Truth be told, despite this engine’s considerable power figure – and peak torque of 500Nm developed at just 1,250rpm – it feels rather underwhelming in this application. To call it slow would be to do it a disservice, as evidenced by its on-paper performance figures suggesting it can complete the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in a reasonable 7.4 seconds and top-out at 134mph. But it never feel’s particularly happy lugging the Q7 around if you make any form of performance-based demand of it.

Of course this feeling of slight lethargy is likely down to the Q7’s considerable 2,060g kerb weight, which admittedly is slightly lighter than its main competitors. Take things a little slower though, and it makes sense, with a linear and hushed delivery of its power that makes it easy to drive and bolsters refinement. And around town, say on the school-run or a trip to the local supermarket, you’re unlikely to notice any form of performance deficit.

High-power 3-litre diesel

But if you do want your Q7 to pick up its skirts and shift with some pace, it’s the 53bhp (and 100Nm) more powerful 3-litre diesel you need to choose. It still doesn’t feel quite as fast as its 6.5-second official 0-62mph time suggests it should, but it demonstrates a far more flexible performance than its slightly lesser-endowed brother. The good news is the economy and efficiency figures barely falter either, so as long as you can afford the extra initial outlay it’s the engine choice to have.

There is no choice of gearbox with the Q7 though, offered solely with the firm’s eight-speed automatic. As you’d expect its shifts smoothly, decisively and when required with a decent pace too. Just don’t bother utilising the paddles behind the steering wheel, as while they work effectively, leaving the ‘box to its own devices suits the Q7’s relaxed character far better anyway.

3.5 out of 5

Handling

If you want your Audi to handle like a sports car, hold out for an R8 or even a TT – the Q7 is less about sporty handling and more about comfort, refinement, practicality and ease of use. And it’s this latter discipline that it nails, with light but relatively linear steering and matching control weights in the pedals.

It turns into corners with ease at the moderate speeds it will likely be driven at, and while there is some detectable body roll it’s far from excessive. Up the pace, and like the best near two-tonne off-roaders the Q7 will roll harder and its resistance to understeer will wain – the squeal of tyres and flicker of the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) light there to remind you to drive more like a dad than hooligan. After all, kids in the rearmost seats won’t likely appreciate your racing lines through the country lanes.

It’s a large vehicle this Q7, so hustling at speed along narrow B-roads isn’t particularly advised anyway, despite a surprising amount of grip on offer from the four-wheel drive system. That weight will come into play on any particularly fierce downhill section too, as you give the brakes a solid work out.

There’s another choice to be made with the Audi Q7’s suspension systems, ranging from the conventionally sprung model to the adaptive air suspension. The latter also adjusts the ride height for a level load, regardless of what you ask the Audi to carry, while the Drive Select System allows the driver to tailor its responses (alongside the throttle and steering) to the driver’s requirements.

And whether you’re travelling at high or low speed the optional All Wheel Steering system will improve stability or increase agility, turning the rear wheels fractionally in the same direction as the fronts above 9.3mph and in the opposite direction below.