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30 Jul, 2019 11:00pm James Howe
The Audi Q7 has been updated for 2019, but is the large SUV now better than ever? We find out…
Audi’s continued revision of its model line-up has extended to its largest SUV, the Q7. It has a full range of 48-volt mild-hybrid drivetrains, uprated tech and a new look inside and out helping to freshen it up.
The facelifted car is still based on the same larger iteration of the VW Group’s MLB EVO platform as the Bentley Bentayga, Lamborghini Urus and Volkswagen Touareg. Unlike its cousins, the Q7 boasts a standard seven-seat layout and so stands as Audi’s answer to the Land Rover Discovery, Mercedes GLE and Volvo XC90.
Externally, Audi has tweaked the Q7’s styling to fall in line with that of the latest Q3 and Q8, with a wider, octagonal grille and redesigned LED lights front and rear. The result is a Q7 that looks a little less ungainly than before, with stronger horizontal lines that help it appear lower and better proportioned. There’s a sharper look inside, too, with much of the Q8’s dramatic dashboard architecture carried over. As usual, S line models get a more aggressive style and bigger wheels.
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At over five metres long and just under two metres wide, the Q7 is still a large car. It’s a heavy one too, weighing in at over two tonnes. On our test route in County Kerry, Ireland, the Q7 feels its size on narrow roads but optional four-wheel steering helps to make low-speed manoeuvring and tighter corners more manageable. The optional 360-degree parking camera system is one of the best around and means that tighter spots are much less daunting.
There are three mild-hybrid engines on offer – two diesels and one petrol. Both diesels are a 3.0-litre V6, but it’s available with two power outputs – 228bhp in the 45 TDI or 282bhp in the 50 TDI – while the most powerful option (until the next SQ7 arrives) is the 335bhp 3.0-litre petrol V6 in the 55 TFSI. All use an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic gearbox and come with quattro four-wheel drive as standard.
Then there’s the usual range of Sport, S line, Black Edition and Vorsprung trims, each with incremental increases in standard equipment. However, our German car doesn’t quite fit into the UK-market trim structure, because it has the looks and equipment of a Sport model, but features the 50 TDI engine, which is reserved for S line models and above in the UK.
And that engine is our pick of the Q7’s revised range. With 600Nm of torque available low down, acceleration is brisk (5.9 seconds from 0-62mph) and overtaking is easy; things start to tail off past 4,000rpm, but getting up to motorway speed is an effortless affair. Larger throttle inputs are accompanied by an appealing six-cylinder woofle that doesn’t unduly interrupt the otherwise serene ambience in the plush cabin.
The eight-speed gearbox isn’t easily confused and is particularly steadfast in its sportiest Dynamic setting, holding onto gears in auto mode or delivering snappy manual shifts via the paddles.
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Straight-line performance is matched by handling and body control that are well resolved for what is one of the largest SUVs on the market. The standard adaptive air suspension continually adjusts to the surface and – even on our car’s 20-inch wheels – soaks up the worst of rough roads without compromising body control, even in laid-back Comfort mode. Larger, more abrupt imperfections can upset the car’s composure, but the Q7 never feels as at sea as a Range Rover can in similar conditions.
Excessive pitch and roll are notable by their absence, even without Audi’s new active roll stabilisation system – an option that won’t make it to the UK. The Q7 feels a little more composed than the Volvo XC90, with a better compromise between ride and handling: as plush in its comfiest setting and more pliant when set to its stiffest.
Otherwise, the new Q7 offers everything that a large premium SUV should: great build quality, high-class materials, acres of space and a sizeable boot. The latter is among the biggest in its class but its lip feels particularly high off the ground.
4 There wasn’t that much wrong with the last Q7, so Audi has focused its attention on aesthetics, technology and mild-hybrid efficiency to bring its largest SUV up to date. The Q7 may not offer the last word in driving fun, but this is a two-tonne SUV that doesn’t fall to pieces on a twisty road; its balance of ride quality and body control is impressive.
- Model: Audi Q7 50 TDI quattro
- Price: £62,500 (est)
- Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl turbodiesel
- Power/torque: 282bhp/600Nm
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
- 0-62mph: 5.9 seconds
- Top speed: 155mph
- Economy/CO2: 33mpg (est)/ 221g/km (est)
- On sale: September