I arrived to pick up the Audi Q7 ‘S’ Line on one of our rare sunny summer days and the car looked fabulous in its gleaming ‘Sepang’ blue pearl-effect paint (£675 extra) and sitting on optional 21” sport alloys (£1,350). Coupled with the ‘S’ Line styling, this made for an impressive looking vehicle.
Audi seems to have managed to make this new model look much smaller and less imposing and cumbersome than the old model, not a bad thing in my opinion, with the car being smaller in all dimensions than the previous model. The new body-shape is much less rounded and has beautiful creased lines resembling the old Audi Quattro of yesteryears, which I remember well from my old rallying days.
To put you in the picture, I have been an Audi fan for many years, although I have to admit I do not own one in our current family pool of cars. I have previously owned four different models from an Audi 100 Avant, S4, RS4 and then, once the kids started to arrive, an old model Q7. This made for an interesting review to see what improvements Audi had made, especially to my old Q7, which we always considered to be a very good car.
So, after a quick demo on the workings of the car at the impressive Glasgow Audi dealership, I set off on a test drive for the day. The first thing to strike me was how sumptuous the cabin was; the quality and feel is absolutely top class and very modern looking as you would expect from the Audi marque.
The seats in the ‘S’ Line model are of the sports variety and this car had the optional ‘Valcona’ leather (£1,100 – I’m not sure I would bother) and were electric, heated and with a programmable memory, and proved very comfortable and supportive. The resulting driving position is excellent with good visibility and a well laid-out dashboard. I had the benefit of the optional reverse camera (£500 – a must in this car), ‘dynamic pack’ (£2,655 – ouch, but well worth it, more on that later) and the impressive ‘technology pack’ (£1,950 – again, ouch, but adds some great functions). You will be getting the drift now that upgrading your Audi Q7 is not for the faint hearted and, at £63,320, this is not a cheap car, although this compares well with the competition in the form of the Volvo XC90 and the Range Rover Sport.
The technology pack adds ‘virtual cockpit’ and heads-up display, navigation and telephony upgrades, amongst other things. I loved the virtual cockpit – it shows all information on the instrument cluster directly in front of you on a 12” high-resolution screen, making for easier and safer motoring. The heads-up display then takes some of that information and projects it onto the windscreen – such as speed, speed limits, navigation and assist functions – all making for a thoroughly fighter jet-like experience, but with safety in its underpinnings.
The dynamic pack adds adaptive air suspension, lane assist and pre-sense front collision avoidance. The suspension element is worth the cost on its own; it helps off-road and with towing but, most importantly, the range of suspensions setting is fabulous – you can select ‘comfort’, which it certainly is, through to ‘dynamic’, which turns this Q7 into an impressive handling car despite its obvious size and tightens up the steering. I have to say these two settings allow this car to turn from comfortable family load-lugger to sports estate at the press of a button – very clever. If you feel yourself coming over all ‘Lewis Hamilton’ then there is even an individual option allowing you to tinker with damper settings – I’m not sure why you would feel the need though.
As far as the rest of the standard interior functions is concerned, they are all well laid out and Audi’s multi-media interface (MMI) infotainment system is easy to use and has a fabulous array of options and functions, although I think my children would probably find more features than I could manage – my goodness cars are getting complicated.
As far as practicality goes, you won’t be wanting for anything. Front and rear leg and head room are ample and you get the added advantage of that third row of seats – a frequently-used feature of our old car – and they’re not even electronically-operated on the new model. With the third row seats flat, the boot is gargantuan and will swallow everything you can throw at it.
Out on the open road, the car really impresses; the ride is adaptive from super comfortable to sporty and the engine and gearbox provide for swift and effortless motoring. It really is a good engine, with 270bhp and loads of torque taking you from nought to 60mph in 6.5 seconds. It responds very quickly and is exceptionally smooth through the eight-speed auto box – again the improvement from my old model is marked.
All too soon it was time to return the car and I have to admit being a little sad to have to hand it back, having been impressed by the overall package and I truly can’t find anything to complain about, except the cost can really climb once you start to spec up from the options list. Audi really has improved the Q7 from my old model – in fact, I’d say it’s ‘nailed it’ and I would own one in a heartbeat.
Ian McEwan is joint managing director at building contractor AKP Scotland and
director of construction documentation firm Multivista Scotland.
Audi Q7 3.0 TDI 218 Quattro S-Line TIP Auto. £409.99 + VAT per month . £3,689 + VAT initial rental. Two year contract hire. 10,000 miles per annum. For more information please call 0800 298 20 30 or www.firstvehicleleasing.co.uk