Live from the launch: Feeling smooth in a Q7



So accomplished was the TT's new 2.0-litre petrol engine that it was hard not to feel a twinge of disappointment climbing into a gargantuan Q7 diesel, but here too Audi have succeeded – the revised 3.0-litre TDI is silky smooth and completely unfazed by the sheer bulk of the SUV.

Audi had redeveloped the engine from scratch, and a plethora of changes means it has shed around 25kg in weight over its predecessor. Ingolstadt's finest were keen to emphasise how much torque could be accessed at the bottom of the rev range now they've dredged an impressive 406lb ft from the powerplant.
Behind the wheel the extra pull is immediately noticeable – the 3.0 TDI Q7 will hit 62mph in under 8 seconds – but in gear it feels tremendously confident. Part of this effect must be attributed to the car's new gearbox.

The eight-speed tiptronic is about as seamless as it gets; almost making it necessary to watch the rev counter to see the changes.

Audi has also shoehorned a superb start/stop system onto the drivetrain. Absolutely no fuss about it – come to a complete stop, keep your foot on the brake and the engine stops. Take your foot off the brake again it instantly restarts before you make it to the accelerator.

Brilliant.

Unfortunately the new, much touted petrol engine is not quite as good.

We drove the more powerful version and while its grunt is beyond reproach, the comparative lack of torque (around 81 lb ft less than the diesel) means that the transmission is forced to drops cogs at a furious rate to access more pace.

Even allowing for the quality of the gearbox, this makes the petrol Q7 wearing to drive around town, which is a shame because at a constant velocity the engine disapears almost entirely into the background.

Nevertheless, for most UK buyers the diesel's superiority is good news - the oil-burning Q7 will far outsell the petrol on these shores.

Conventionally that is based on economy, but in this case it is the seemingly effortless performance that sets the engine apart.
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