The state of Britain's roads never ceases to infuriate me. If it's not the
potholes, it's the road works, if it's not the inconsiderate lorries overtaking
each other at 57mph, it's the traffic jams. Let's face it, our roads are full to
capacity – they're clogged like a KFC-addicted slob's arteries and they're
unlikely to be fixed any time soon.
This month, as you can probably guess, I've spent an extraordinary amount of
time behind the wheel of my long term Audi Q7. I've covered nearly 2,000 miles
since my last report and the stark differences in my journeys have been
My most recent schlep was from our base in Gosport, on the south coast, to
Liverpool for a wedding. The 250-mile journey on the Friday was horrendous – it
took six hours after dicing with selfish truckers causing miles of unnecessary
tailbacks on the A34, to ghost jams caused by nothing more than the sheer volume
of traffic on the M6. Just two days later on the exact same journey, the roads
were empty and it took me just three-and-a-half hours to get home. Bonkers.
Fortunately, the Q7 is a wonderful time to spend long journeys in. It's super
comfortable and even after the six-hour marathon I got out at the end relatively
fresh, if not a little stressed. However, spending such a long time in a car
does give you quality time to really dig into the detail. For example why does
the car have keyless start, but not keyless entry? As there were a couple of
other things bugging me I gave the experts at Audi a call. The keyless start was
an easy one to solve – keyless entry is a £950 option that hadn't been ticked on
our test car, apparently. Ouch.
notice a green foot – sometimes solid in colour, sometimes not. It's been
annoying me for a while, so some Audi PR enlightenment was welcome.
Apparently some clever "predictive efficiency" technology tells you when you can
take your foot off the accelerator so the car can decouple the transmission and
coast, improving your consumption. The solid green foot tells you when you're
doing it properly, an empty green foot indicates you should be. Clever stuff.
I've also noticed Audi's Pre-Sense technology recently too. A few times a
warning beep and the word's "Audi Pre-Sense" have been illuminated on the dash
while driving. Both times there was a cyclist on a cycle track heading towards
the car – but in a perfectly safe situation. The Audi team told me the Q7 uses
cameras to spot potential accidents occurring, and on both these occasions the
car would have thought a collision was imminent. Ok, so the system might have
been a little over zealous on those occasions, but it has saved me from a prang
in a car park when it automatically applied the brakes when a car reversed
It's clear the Q7 is packed with technology, but it's the little things that
make me really love it. Things like the buttons in the boot that can raise and
lower the third row of seats automatically, the fact the boot closes at the
touch of a button too is handy when your arms are laden with shopping and I'm
still marveling at the excellent multimedia system. The sat nav is an especial
joy, thanks to the repetition of the map on the digital display, and its ease of
use. I've experienced none of the screen issues my colleagues had either, so
hopefully that gremlin has gone for good.
One thing that amazes passengers – and still amuses me every time I get in it –
are the soft close doors. Gently pull the doors towards the car and when they
touch the bodywork, a motor pulls them that last few millimetres closed. It's a
luxury touch, pretty pointless, but wonderful nonetheless. See, it's the little
things you notice when you spend so much "quality" time with a car – perhaps all
that traffic isn't a bad thing after all.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Model: Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro S Line
Engine: 3.0-litre, TDI
Max speed: 145mph
0-60mph: 6.5 seconds
Emissions: 153 g/km
MPG: 48mpg (combined)
Mileage this month: 2,568