Since first gen Audi Q7 made its world premiere in 2005, the German luxury car maker has undergone a massive transformation. The success of its first SUV led to seemingly never-ending births of Q models. What started as a bold experiment has now grown into a primary pillar of the four-ringed marque.
The flagship Q’s second iteration is here and it aims to kick-start yet another wave of transformation. Like its predecessor, the new big daddy Q7 sets the direction for smaller Q models to follow. Here is what we learnt about the product over a weekend.
So what is new?
Almost everything. The new generation model is based on VW Group’s MLB 2.0 multi-material platform which has achieved a staggering level of weight loss (nearly 300 kg) which manifests in the vehicle’s appearance. The dimensions haven’t changed a great deal but the new SUV wears an athletic and sophisticated look as against the outgoing model which relied on its bulky physique to make an impact.
The SingleFrame radiator grille now gets accentuated edges to form a chrome finished hexagon and the vertical slats gave way to horizontal ones. The sleek LED matrix headlamps, chrome embellished bumper air intakes and a silver chin complete the slimmed down front fascia.
The profile too is significantly different from the previous iteration. The edges are sharper, the crease lines are more pronounced and the sheet metal skin is tauter. The proportions are spot on, making the mammoth of an SUV look smaller than it actually is.
The gently tapering rear fascia is full of rectangular-ish elements – windshield, LED combination lamps, bumper reflectors and dual exhaust tips that are nestled in a silver diffuser.
New Audi Q7 is no longer that SUV whose mere appearance in the rear view mirror causes intimidation. That said, it emerges as a much sharper and sportier luxury SUV which would appeal to a younger audience base.
How does the new cabin fare?
The old car’s interior aged faster than other aspects and was simply no match for its modern rivals. Well, that’s in the past now. 2016 Q7’s cabin feels refreshingly new, airy and spacious.
The design and layout of the dashboard draw a few leaves from VW Passat B8’s book, especially the narrow rectangular AC vents which are seamlessly camouflaged by the dashboard trim to offer a smooth and continuously flow.
The stylish 4-spoke steering wheel, fully digital Virtual Cockpit instrument console, dual-tone dash color theme, brushed metal inserts and wooden trim add to the SUV’s premium feel. Fit, finish, and material qualities are high but one wouldn’t expect anything less from the flagship. We may be nitpicking here but we do wish that the upper half of the dashboard was a little less plasticky.
Coming to the seats, both driver and passenger gets electrical adjustments. Plush leather seats offer abundant thigh and back supports (with adjustable lumbar support) but they don’t hold the occupants as snuggly as we would have liked as the side bolstering is a bit on the shorter side.
The middle row seats are very comfortable on all parameters. The bench can be slid forward and backward to optimize the space for rear seat occupants. The two-seat third row shares its real estate with the space saver spare wheel (Audi didn’t design a dedicated storage area for the spare wheel because most international versions employ run-flat tyres) and luggage bay. You have to compromise on the luggage space if want to ferry 7 passengers.
New Audi Q7’s cabin can be described as sporty, elegant, airy, flexible, well built, well equipped and sophisticated.
India-spec Q7 is powered by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that outputs 268 PS and 598 Nm of torque which are roughly 10% better than the previous iteration of this engine. However, if you factor in the massive weight saving to the tune of 300 kg, you get a car that is so much better do drive than its predecessor.
The motor scores top marks in NVH department. The tyre noise is well within limits and the wind noise is almost nil even at very high speeds. The engine is quite audible under spirited acceleration but it sounds properly sporty. Vibrations? Zilch. The performance, as expected, is mighty impressive. The abundant torque makes a light work of everything. There is more than enough performance in reserve whenever you want it and the brilliantly adaptive 8-speed DSG transmission masks the engine’s weak point if at all there is any. The new SUV consumes fuel at a much slower rate than its hefty antecedent. During our test drive, it delivered a cool 12 kmpl, which is impressive considering the size and performance level of this beast.
The Audi Drive Select system offers four modes – Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, and Individual. The car’s suspension, steering, transmission and engine responses are altered in accordance with the mode selected, making it an extremely versatile machine with multiple personalities. It would surprise most drivers with its handling capability (a shout out to the amazing grip offered by the Quattro all-wheel-drive system) in dynamic mode while soaking up the road imperfections efficiently in the comfort mode. Suffice it to say that new Q7 is an automotive equivalent of the Swiss Army Knife – one piece of equipment does it all.
Let’s now talk about the cool stuff
New Q7 takes onboard gadgetry to a new level. In addition to the Audi Drive Select system which greatly influences on-road behavior, the car packs other interesting items like the decidedly premium Virtual Cockpit (configurable TFT digital instrument console). The comprehensive MMI system is one stop shop for all entertainment needs and vehicle settings. And we love the touch sensitive cabin lights.
That’s not all. Audi has crammed in an elaborate collection of safety equipment that the target audience have come to expect in a car of Q7’s calibre.
|Model||Audi Q7 45 TDI|
|Power||245 hp @ 2910 – 4500 rpm|
|Torque||600 Nm @ 1500 – 3000 rpm|
|Transmission||8 Speed tiptronic|
|Kerb Wt||2330 kgs|
|Fuel Tank||75 ltrs|
|Top speed||234 kmph|
|0-100 kmph||7.1 s|
Audi Virtual Cockpit
Voice Control System
Multifunction leather steering wheel
Audi phone box
Audi Matrix LED lights
Audi Pre-sense Basic
Tilt Angle display
Adaptive Air Suspension
Audi Drive Select
7 Exterior Colours
19 inch Alloys
Black / Beige Interiors
Electrically adjustable front seats with memory function
Centre arm rest
Aluminium / Wood inlays
4 zone Auto AC
Luggage compartment lid
Auto dimming lights
Rain sensing wipers
BOSE 3D sound system
Should you buy one?
New Audi Q7 is priced at INR 72 lakhs, exclusive of taxes and insurance in New Delhi…err wait, it’s banned in the capital city! In Mumbai, the on-road price works out to be a bit higher than INR 90 lakhs. At first, it seems like a steep price to pay for the car but allow me to help you understand it better. The boffins at Audi has succeeded in amalgamating a reasonably sporty luxury sedan, a capable off-roader, and a highly practical crossover into a single clever package.
So, one could consider owning a new Q7 as equivalent to owning three characteristically different premium cars. I think the good old Tata Indica’s tagline of “more car per car” fits the latest Q7 perfectly.