First Drive: Audi Q7

Audi Q7

The Audi Q7 has always been one of the biggest SUVs around, but the new model has lost a huge amount of weight and looks much less bulky than its predecessor. Does it still offer the same high-quality interior and commanding driving experience though? We head to the New Forest to find out.

What is it?

This is the biggest member of the Audi family yet the lightest in its class. The second-generation Q7 has been built from the ground up, creating a completely new car. It is built for those who have Gucci phone cases and a Butler yet remains affordable enough for your average car buyer to be able to afford a piece of that lifestyle, starting at £50,340. It is slightly narrower and shorter than its predecessor, however is taller and therefore offers class-leading head and shoulder room.

What's under the bonnet?

A new 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine debuts underneath the bonnet and offers strong performance. With 268bhp being distributed to all four wheels, the Q7 will get you from 0-62mph in just 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 145 mph. To keep the weight of the car down much of the engine is lighter than before, allowing the kerb weight of this Q7 to stand at just 2,060 kg – not bad for a hefty seven-seater off-roader. The engine also has also been tweaked for improved economy and offers impressive claimed economy for its size, at 47.9mpg.

What's the spec like?

There is enough kit in the standard SE Q7 to keep finding something new every day for a very long time. Turn the car on and the sat nav-equipped media system will pop up from the dashboard, featuring a high-resolution 8.3-inch screen. There are also seven-seats on offer, with the second row folding in three parts and two seats in the third row that electrically emerge from the floor. We found the S line interior even more appealing though, with leather and alcantara seats – chunky sports seats for those in the front – and the three-spoke leather-trimmed multi-function steering wheel feeling much more upmarket. The optional add on of Audi's digital 'virtual cockpit' is quite striking too, with its the street view-esque map even showing cars going by.

First Drive: Audi Q7

First Drive: Audi Q7

What's it like to drive?

Exactly how a premium SUV should be, only faster. We knew the Q7 was going to be a quick car from the figures, but going from a standstill to 62mph in just 6.5 seconds really is quite something for a car of this size. The Q7 is a big SUV and comfort is superb with it gliding over potholes and making rough roads feel like a newly tarmacked road. On the motorway refinement is flawless, however due to its height, there is a fair amount of roll when cornering at speed. One of the most impressive qualities of the Q7, however, is its impressively small turning circle thanks to the optional all-wheel steering that means that it can turn round in less space than any of its rivals and even the much smaller Audi A4.

Any rivals?

Many. The premium SUV market is really hotting up so it takes a lot to stand out in it. Volvo has surpassed expectations with its striking new XC90 and Mercedes and BMW are still winning many fans over with their GLE/M-Class and X5 respectively. Audi also has to keep an eye on the Porsche Cayenne and the Range Rover Sport to name but two more appealing rivals.

The AOL Cars verdict

We really like the Audi Q7 and think it looks a lot better than its predecessor and many older rivals. It also offers breathtaking performance stats along with strong economy in 3.0-litre diesel form. Things only get better on the inside and then better again when you press the start button and start driving it. The Range Rover Sport is still a tough rival, however, the Q7 is an appealing option and symbolises a huge step in the right direction for the German brand.

The knowledge

Audi Q7 S line 3.0 TDI
Price: £53,835
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder diesel
Power: 268bhp / 600Nm
Max speed: 145mph
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
MPG: 47.9
Emissions: 153g/km CO2

Author: Harry Boucher