Living with an Audi Q7: Sixth report
Most SUVs spend their life hammering up and down the motorway, the closest they ever get to off-roading being when they bump up the kerb outside a school.
So before 'my' Audi Q7 finally went back to the manufacturer to be de-fleeted and sold on to a new owner, who'd more than likely be doing exactly that, I thought I'd give KU16 MOF a fitting send-off with a challenging trek up the Alps.
It is, of course, ski season and as an avid snowboarder, the winter doesn't mean duvet days and hibernating for me. Instead I'd rather embrace the chill and throw myself down the side of a large mountain on what can only be described as a tea tray with straps.
This strange sport requires copious amounts of kit too, and, if you've ever been, you'll know that flying there makes little sense. The weight limits for luggage coupled with the sheer unpleasantness of budget airline flights makes driving to European resorts a far more agreeable option. And what better car to do it in than a Q7?
I chatted to the friendly people at Audi and they offered to fit some winter tyres and a ski rack to MOF. Sadly, the latter made the Audi just a little too tall for the 185cm height limit stipulated by the Chunnel for my Flexiplus tickets, so I ditched them. The fact the centre seat folds flat meant my 'tea tray', plus one of my holiday companions', easily slotted in. The Q7's boot is huge and swallowed three men's kit plus supplies for the horrendous one-star apartment we'd booked (another long story) with ease.
The 1,500-mile round trip flew by without drama – the comfortable seats, brilliant multimedia system and cruise control all helping the miles fade away. In fact, the car was so faultless we had more time to muse about why the French can't do service stations, how they have the cheek to call the warm brown liquid that's coughed into a cup from a dreadful machine 'coffee', and why, in 2017, they refuse to fit toilet seats to toilets? Answers on a postcard please.
As the flat, boring middle-ground of France made way for the glorious snow-capped mountains, the Q7 really came into its own. The Quattro four-wheel drive and winter tyres combination made it simply unstoppable, and with a metre of the cold, wet stuff falling from the sky we were incredibly thankful for that.
Back in Blighty, the Q7 has resumed normal duties, including lugging a bale of straw from a farm to keep the family chickens warm, and countless airport runs. I've even cleaned it a few more times, having decided it looks far more stately and premium when you can actually see the colour of the paint.
I have a few grumbles, though. One strange one is an intermittent issue with the Bluetooth when it randomly cuts out mid-song. It's nothing to do with how close my phone is to the system – because believe me I've tried putting it everywhere in the cabin – and is only solved by turning the car off and resetting my phone. Strange.
It's also just devoured another 10 litres of AdBlue. Its appetite for the mysterious, emissions-improving liquid still resides at around two litres every thousand miles. I ordered it again with one click on Amazon and it arrived the next day, a slow leak causing a litre of it to drip all over the box. Then, as I attempted to drain the container into the tank, the cheap nozzle popped off and dumped a further two litres on my feet. I can confirm that you don't want to get it on your hands, or your Converse.
As much as I'll miss the Q7, I'm now looking forward to the arrival of its replacement, an Audi A6 Avant. A colleague specified it with smart green metallic paint and some serious wheels, but whether it can live up to the SUV it's replacing remains to be seen. I honestly think, having lived with the Q7 for six months, that it's the class leader in the large SUV category, beating the once overlord of the sector, the mighty Range Rover. That's impressive and a real testament to just how accomplished this gigantic Audi is.
Model: Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro S Line
Engine: 3.0-litre, TDI
Max speed: 145mph
0-60mph: 6.5 seconds
MPG: 48mpg (combined)
Mileage this month: 982
This month's highlight: Finally realising this is the best large SUV you can buy