Audi Q7 3.0 TDI 2015 33 Photos Zoom

Audi Q7 3.0 TDI gets road tested: First drive in the new full-size SUV

The new Audi Q7 hit dealerships in June. With efficient engines, modern assistance systems and top-class equipment options, it should set the benchmark within the segment. Our test report shows whether it manages the task.

Let's simply forego the "torture" and get straight to the core of the road test: the Audi Q7 was a positive surprise. In general, but in particular with regard to its handling. It managed to demonstrate this to us in the Swiss Canton of Wallis, which Audi also likes to call the "Land of Quattro". It must be to do with the winding mountain roads and the snowy weather conditions - in Winter at least. However, the major aha effect is not necessarily down to the all-wheel drive, but rather the agility compared to its now 10-year-old predecessor. In any case, the five-metre giant twists and turns its way up the winding roads in such light-footed fashion that the size and weight feels like it shrinks to the level of a compact.

This deserves recognition, for in spite of the effective slimming down that the new model has managed to achieve, dropping up to 325 kg depending on the model and equipment, it still weighs in at just under two tonnes. In the diesel versions you can add another 100 kg to this. The Audi Q7 also has a fresh chassis to thank for its new sporty character, which can be supplemented with all-wheel steering and pneumatic suspension subject to extra charge. LThe latter automatically raises and lowers the bodywork depending on requirement, or at the touch of a button, thus giving the Q7 more stability at high speeds and also more ground clearance in off-road situations.

Audi Q7 3.0 TDI with a maximum torque of 600 Nm

The progress made with regard to the selectable drive modes in Audi's drive dynamics system is also a great success. In regular use, the benefits should be particularly evident when switching between the comfortable and the dynamic tuning. In Comfort mode the Audi feels like a laid-back glider, and excels with a low noise level inside the vehicle. The eight-speed converter transmission shifts gear briskly and barely noticeably. If the Sport mode is activated, the accelerate receives commands more impulsively, die Lenkung wird direkter, die Automatik lässt höhere Drehzahlen zu. The engine sounds more robust, but never becomes intrusive. Although with noticeably snappier tuning, the chassis doesn't cause any problems with regard to comfort and skilfully dampens bumps away at all times.

With the 268 HP three-litre TDI, which delivers a torque of 600 Nm from as low as 1,500 - 3,000 rpm, the Q7 is equipped with sufficient reserves to get the two-tonne weight moving in almost playful fashion. The six-cylinder engine is said to accelerate the SUV from stationary to a speed of 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds and reach a top speed of 233 km/h. Later in the year, Audi will also offer a more efficient version of the TDI as an alternative, with 215 HP and 500 Nm of torque. Objectively speaking, the efficiency model will drive just as well, but should consume less. Audi quotes below 5.5 l/100 km. In the "Land of Quattro" with a mixture of the already described winding roads, country roads and motorways in the valley the on-board computer coughs up an average consumption of exactly 10 l/100 km. An acceptable value. Less would have been feasible, but at the expense of the driving fun.

The assistance system helps save fuel

Those who wish to save fuel will adhere to the instructions of Audi's predictive efficiency assistants. Based on the navigation data, a notification flickers on the digital instrument cluster in the form of a green illuminated foot and notifies the driver when he should ease off the accelerator so that the engine can switch to Sailing  mode. This happens, for example, if entrances or roundabouts can only be seen too late by the driver and he has to reduce speed very quickly.

A note regarding speed. In Switzerland, the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI didn't actually manage to provide proof of the top speed claimed by Audi. With a permitted motorway top speed of 120 km/h, the "Land of Quattro" is simply the "Land of Cruise Control". And it does its job well. Alongside the distance function, which features various settings, Audi's ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) now also uses navigation data to decelerate the Q7 before and on exit roads. Not strictly necessary, but it does make driving a little more relaxed.

The Audi Q7 with a new parking assistant

Audi does provide numerous comfort assistants for the new Q7 that we were also able to try out on the testing grounds. As we well know, the trend is moving towards piloted driving. Thus, the new Audi Q7 can be fitted with an optional parking assistant, which automatically detects parking spaces and takes over control of the steering from the driver when parking. He is still required to select the appropriate gear, accelerate and brake. The system then reliably parks the Q7, either in a bay or parallel, and only ends the procedure when the car is positioned perfectly, which means that five to six gear changes are sometimes required.

In order to then safely exit the vehicle, the exit warning notifies you of approaching vehicles when opening the door, by means of a illuminating LED bar in the door panel, and the warning light of the lane change warning system on the wing mirror. The driver is also warned accordingly when reverse parking. IF he doesn't respond to the visual and audible warnings, the computer brakes the car independently.

The Q7 also slams on the brakes if the Pre Sense City safety system detects a pending collision via the mono-camera in the front windscreen. Following an acoustic warning and the subsequent brake impulse, the system fully applies the brakes in the event of an emergency, decelerating to 40 km/h. With the pre-tensioning of the seat belt, the inflations of the side bolsters on the seats and the closing of the windows, the passengers are then best prepared for an accident. When turning left the technology also protects the vehicle and passengers from a collision and automatically brakes to 10 km/h if oncoming traffic gets too close. The technology behind the systems is familiar: cameras, ultrasound and radar sensors all around the vehicle monitor the environment and thus provide the assistance systems with the necessary information.

A top-class interior

The major step in the direction of piloted driving is found in the new traffic assistant, which independently navigates the Audi Q7 through a traffic jam at speeds between 0 and 65 km/h. The new trailer manoeuvring assistant, which comes as standard, is no less useful, provided a trailer bar has been ordered. Via the rotary pushbutton in the central console and the central display, you can accurately determine the direction and how far the trailer should be moved. The electronic system then assumes control of the steering. Accelerating and braking is left to the driver.

When it comes to interior equipment, the Audi Q7 has climbed into the luxury class, and can be spruced up with quality materials such as leather, wood and aluminium subject to extra charge, and impresses with its flawless level of finish. Added to this are new technological innovations, such as the freely programmable digital instrument cluster familiar from the Audi TT, or the new Audi tablets, which can be mounted to the back of the front seats. They thus replace the classic rear-seat entertainment, but are also fully networked with the vehicle via the Internet, allowing, for example, the vehicle status to be called up (location, fuel level, remaining range) or navigation data to be conveniently fed from any location.

Seven-seater functionality with room for up to six child seats

On request, the new Q7 can be fitted with seven seats and thus provides space for up to six child seats. A clever Easy-Entry function facilitates access to the back row. The back rests of the two back seats can be electrically folded or raised from the back seat or the boot, at the touch of a button. If required, the storage area can accommodate up to 1,955 litres (seven-seater) and offers a level loading surface.

The new Audi Q7 hit dealerships in 2015. Prices begin at 60,900 Euros for the 3.0 TDI with 268 HP (the price for the souped up model has not yet been released). For those who don't want to do without the technological highlights the cost does, however, escalate quickly. Audi charges 2,800 Euros for navigation system with the retractable and extendible 8.3-inch display alone. The assistance systems are bundled in several packages at prices between 1,150 and 2,010 Euros. The pneumatic suspension is available from 2,050 Euros, and the all-wheel steering from 1,150 Euros. A full-leather package costs at least 6,300 Euros and if you want a more sporty appearance, Audi asks 1,850 Euros for the S Line Exterior package. And there is still a long way to go even after all of this. The all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmission are of course always on-board as standard.

As the only petrol engine upon market launch, the 3.0 TFSI with 328 HP is available from 62,900 Euros. In due course, Audi will offer the particularly fuel-efficient e-tron in the Q7, which can travel up to 50 km/h running purely on electricity and is said to consume an average of 1.7 l/100 km. In addition to this a particularly sporty SQ7 variant would be feasible, as found in the car's little brother, the Q5.

Conclusion:

Audi has thoroughly renovated the Q7 and has much improved it in almost every area. The reduced weight and the new chassis benefit the agility and hugely increase both the driving fun and the handling. With the new assistance systems and infotainment functions, the SUV is equipped to become the forerunner within its segment. This of course comes at a price.

Thomas Gerhardt

Photo

Audi

Date

15 October 2015
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