But someone has been spending time at the gym! The new Audi Q7 has trimmed off 325 kilos, and you can see the difference. The 3.0 TDI now drops below the two-tonne mark. The second generation of the luxury SUV has also lost a great deal of bulkiness, visually speaking, and in return has improved in terms of dynamics. At almost the same height, the new Audi Q7 is now almost four centimetres shorter and 1.5 centimetres narrower than its predecessor. In place of the chunky rounded corners of its predecessor, in the new Q7 Audi is now opting for clear edges.
The new Q7 comes as an e-tron
For the market launch, the new Audi Q7 will be available in two six-cylinder variants. The 3.0 TDI produces 268 HP and delivers 600 Newton metres of torque. The 3.0 TFSI petrol engine produces 440 Newton metres, mind you it produces 328 HP. As power increases, the driving values also fall accordingly: the diesel storms from 0 to 100 in 6.7 seconds, whereas the petrol engine ticks this one off in 6.1 seconds. Three other engines are still in the pipeline: for non-European markets a 249 HP 2.0 TFSI is in planning, while at a later stage we will be getting an "efficiency model", in which the 3.0 TDI can be throttled to 215 HP and 500 Nm, again with corresponding low consumption values. The transmission system used is the new eight-speed tiptronic. A classic automatic converter transmission, but with a "Sailing" (coasting) function and particularly low minimum rpm when idling.
The fifth Q7 version will be literally electrifying: next year the Audi Q7 will also be available as an e-tron with plug-in hybrid technology. Once again, the three-litre TFDI, which produces 254 HP in the e-tron version, is used. It is backed up by an electric motor with 94 kW/126 HP. Audi state the maximum achievable system power from both drive units as 368 HP, while the maximum torque of 700 Newton metres should provide impressive pull. This will also make the upcoming Audi Q7 e-tron the fastest accelerating model in the series – 0 to 100 in 6.0 seconds. Thanks to the lithium ion battery, it can travel up to 56 kilometres running solely on electricity, on the basis of which Audi calculates an average consumption of 1.7 litres of diesel for the Audi Q7 e-tron – not particularly relevant in practice.
With regard to handling, something not previously considered to be a core competence of the large Ingolstadt-born SUV, Audi hopes to position the new Q7 well in front of the competition. Alongside the completely re-designed chassis, with five-link axles, sporty drivers can if desired have all-wheel drive, which, as an added bonus, should reduce the turning circle by around a metre. In addition, the centre of gravity has been lowered by around 50 millimetres in comparison to its predecessor. Added to this is the so-called "wheel-selective torque control": the braking system works with light pulses in order to decelerate the unburdened wheels on the inside of the corner, which should further improve the handling.
In terms of infotainment and operation, the Q7 leaves no wish unfulfilled. We took a look at the features in detail:
- Smartphone integration
Via the Audi Phonebox in the central console, the Q7 wirelessly connects mobile telephones with the external antenna, which considerably benefits the reception quality while driving. Smartphones that meet the Qi standard for inductive charging are even supplied with power as they lie in the storage tray. The importance that smartphone integration enjoys is evident in the fact that the Q7 is one of the first cars worldwide to support both Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
Apps can be displayed on the on-board monitor via both interfaces, and the operating features can be controlled from within the car. However, in both cases a USB connection is required. Once you plug in, the Carplay or Android logo appears in the Audi menu and apps can be clicked on. For safety reasons, only apps that are not too distracting and that have text of an appropriate size are permitted. List entries or apps are selected via the rotary pushbutton or by voice input. Because the route planners on mobile phones are also supported, Q7 drivers can select between various navigation systems.
Using the large touchpad, letters and numbers can be entered or the scale of the navigation map altered. On the front edge of the touchpad there are eight freely programmable quick-select buttons for radio stations, navigation destinations or telephone contacts, whereby the applied settings are displayed on the on-board monitor. Otherwise the number of buttons on the central console has been considerably reduced. Voice operation also seems to have been considerably improved, which is no longer bound to fixed commands but instead also reacts to commands such as "Drive me to Nürnberg" or "Call Michael" – which functioned impressively well in the initial test. The temperature displays for the four-zone automatic climate control can be found inside the rotary button. The volume knob is located to the right of the newly designed automatic gear lever with integrated parking button.
- Audi tablet for co-passengers
The Audi Q7 keeps passengers in row two entertained with tablet PCs, which are integrated into the infotainment system via WLAN. The 10.1-inch flatscreens developed by Audi can be suspended in holders on the back of the front seats, via which they are also charged. Rounded edges, shatter-proof glass surfaces and heat-resistant batteries make the Audi tablet fit for in-car use. The quality of reception benefits from the integration into the WLAN hotspot, as users can surf the web via the Q7's external antenna. Thanks to the Android operating system, all apps can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and played back, as well as films, games and e-books. Furthermore, vehicle data such as the tyre pressure and oil level can be called up. If you prefer to plan your journey in advance, you can send destination addresses to the MMI Navigation Plus. If back-seat passengers are dissatisfied with the music selection, they can specify which songs or radio stations are played themselves, via the tablet.
- MMI Navigation Plus
The MMI Navigation Plus in the Q7 aligns itself to the user much better than was previously the case. For example, if you drive to work at the same time each morning, traffic disruptions are then also reported even if you have not activated the navigations, as it knows the way anyway. In addition to this, destination addresses can be entered intuitively and in various ways without having to stick to the typical "City, Street, house number" or "Special destination" menu structure. Maps with images from Google Earth help with orientation and can be updated online via LTE, while the live traffic services from TomTom now also take secondary routes such as county roads into consideration. The Audi MMI Connect app transfers navigations destinations from your mobile to the car with a swipe motion.
- B & O 3D Advanced Sound system
Conventional sound systems struggle with one general problem: by housing the speakers in the doors, floor panel or dashboard, they are positioned too low to provide a balanced stage image - as if on a balcony listening to a concert taking place on the street below. With the Bang & Olufsen sound system for the new Q7, the developers have therefore made use of additional high speakers, which are housed in the top area of the A-pillars and together with the speakers in the roof considerably increase the volume in the back of the car. However, this was not achieved merely with a few additional speakers, as after all the special high speakers are only meant to reproduce the sound information that is responsible for providing a sense of space.
The music signal is therefore analysed by a piece of software developed together with the Fraunhofer institute, broken down into 23 individual channels, separately amplified and distributed to the respective specialised acoustic transducers. Alongside the classic left/right and front/back spatial distribution, the sound is given another dimension, top/bottom – and it does so without requiring special music sources. The system calculates the spatial information from the normal stereo signal, allowing even radio or simple MP3 songs to be enjoyed in 3D sound. In spite of the additional speakers in the A-pillars, with the acoustic lens tweeters, one of the specialities of B & O is used. Thanks to their semi-open design, they radiate in a targeted manner into the interior and are thus among the best that the speaker market has to offer. However, it is not just in the upper frequency range that the 6,450-Euro sound system shows off: a 25-centimetre subwoofer that sits in a grand 20-litre housing takes care of the base range. In comparison: in the Audi A7 the B & O subwoofer has to make to with 8.7 litres of space. The subwoofer is backed up by 180-millimetre bass speakers, which are located in enclosed in-door housing.
The collection of speakers is powered by a 23-channel amplifier, which produces a maximum power of 1,920 Watts and should play without distortion, even at a very high volume. During the first sound check the system impressed with it high sound stage and precise and spacious playback without intrusive hall effects, which can get irritating after a short period of time. In spite of the many speakers, the music plays as if flowing from a single source – with undistorted vocals and clear treble. Depending on the track and your personal taste, the impression of space varies between studio recording and airy concert atmosphere. Regardless of this, the deep and seamless bass Bass, which does not soften or sound hollow even at high volumes, is fascinating.
The range of media has also been refined in many regards in the Audi Q7: as such, the list of broadcasters for all receivable radio stations is displayed, regardless of whether coming in via FM or DAB. Here the list view is enhanced with cover photos for the song you are listening to. The source is selected via the rotary pushbutton in the central console or the steering wheel buttons. Alongside Fm and DAB, there is a CD/DVD player in the glove compartment with slots for two SD cards. In addition, 10 GB of your own music can be played back via the integrated hard drive. With a coupled mobile phone, the most recent Bluetooth protocol, A2DP 1.4, grants access to the music lists. Webradio receiver, Aupeo, or the Napster streaming service are integrated into the Audi MMI mobile app and can be safely operated via the menus while driving. The image from the tuner on the other hand can only be viewed on the 8.4-inch main monitor when stationary. However, the DVB-T receiver sends the image and the audio via the Audi tablet PC if desired. This means that passengers can also watch TV during the journey.
A special Audi app, which we were able to test live on the Samsung Gear smartwatch, controls thenew Audi Q7: the auxiliary heating can be activated en route, to allow you to climb into a warm car, in addition to which vehicle data such as the mileage or fuel level can be called up. And if you have forgotten where you have parked your Q7, the location can be displayed. The model from LG with an integrated NFC chip (Near Field Communication) will even replace the ignition key in the future A8.
- Virtual cockpit
In place of the analogue instruments, the Audi Q7 can be fitted with a 12.3-inch TFT display, first presented by Audi in the TT. Here the driver can choose between an infotainment-oriented view with a large navigation map, and a classic dial display. Even the areas inside the dials can be individually assigned – with values from the on-board computer or arrows for the navigation. Unlike in Audi's compact sports car, the TT, which comes without a monitor in the central console, the virtual cockpit in the Q7 serves as a supplement to the main screen. This gives the passenger the ability to browse through the music archive or telephone book, without the driver having to make do without the navigation view. In another departure from the TT, the Q7 is also available with analogue instruments and a seven-inch on-board computer display. The virtual cockpit actually costs 500 Euros extra.
Regarding price: this is another area where changes are afoot in the new Audi Q7 – and in a clear upward direction. The base price (three-litre TDI) is expected to be around 61,000 Euros. Orders can be placed from early 2015, with delivery beginning in the summer.