Engine and gearbox
Why I would buy it?
Why I would avoid it?
The third row is inadequate
No diesel option
The engine on offer is Audi’s 3.0-litre V6 petrol in the 55TFSI guise. This engine produces 340bhp and 500Nm of torque. An eight-speed automatic has been the mainstay of the Q7 range and now Audi’s Quattro AWD system is standard for both trim levels. s extremely smooth and very refined with hardly any sound coming out of the engine bay. The only time it gets vocal is when you floor it and it gives off that signature V6 snarl and even that sounds quite a bit distant.
On the go, it's a little slow off the line with some lag between you dabbing the throttle and the car moving but you once get going, the 500Nm of torque is quite well placed to mask the bulk of the Q7. The eight-speed gearbox when left to do it thing in the background works well to keep you in the meat of the torque band and ensures that you need to make quick overtakes, you are not short of motivation.
Such a large engine also afford you cruising ability with almost no effort to get up to three-digit speeds, stay there and go back if you suddenly have to drop speed. This eight-speed gearbox also gets paddle shifters which are instant to respond to and add a fun element to the driving when you want a more involved driving experience. Altering the drive modes also alters the way the throttle responds with it being the dullest in the eco mode. Finally, enabling the all-road mode automatically raises the air suspension. It's not particularly efficient and during our test drive averaged between 5-7kmpl. However, that being said, the target buyers for this car will have fuel efficiency lower down their priority list.
Ride and handling
The Audi Q7 is underpinned by an air suspension which when activated lends suppleness to the ride quality masking out most bumps and imperfections but does induce some noticeable vertical movement if the imperfection is too deep or rutted. It will perform its best in normal road conditions at both high speeds and low speeds. The insulation is also fantastic with most of the outside world being filtered out including the snarl of the V6 motor upfront.
There's no doubt that the Q7 is a large car with a high centre of gravity that affects its handling abilities. There's a noticeable roll in the corners and do feel the weight of the car if you get carried away behind the wheel. It's best then to plan your moves and keep your momentum constant, something the V6 engine should no trouble in helping you doing whatever be the scenario.
The steering is light, easy and quite accurate at low speeds masking the bulk of the car when you need to do things U-Turns and parallel parking. However, up the speed and the steering weighs up nicely allowing you to cruise effortlessly for long distances. This combined with the large torque figure from the V6 motor makes this car a potent highway kilometre-muncher.
Interior and features
Inside is where Audi’s spent a big part of its budget to update the Q7 and that’s quite visible the instant you step in the cabin is a beige and black affair with lots of silver inserts and a lot of glossy black plastics that lend a premium appearance to the look and feel of the cabin but in the long run, will become a finger-print magnet if you don’t wipe it down regularly. In terms of ergonomics, everything falls easily to hand and is quite intuitive to operate.
What’s completely new is the three-screen layout that dominates this shiny dashboard. This one on the right runs the latest version of Audi’s virtual cockpit and has been a mainstay since the car was launched here in 2017 the Q7 is the car that debuted the virtual cockpit system in India back then. It’s got everything you want from an instrument cluster and now even has a head-up display system.
The top-screen on the left is a new 10.1-inch touchscreen unit with their latest MMI infotainment system that’s got all the usual like Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, in-built maps, vehicle information and of course doubles up as the display for the auto park and reverse camera system. Since it’s become a touchscreen system Audi’s done away with its control dial on the dashboard.
This third screen is to control the four-zone climate control system and incorporates all the functions into a touchscreen system. It’s comprehensive, looks very high quality and helps in adding a large dollop of minimalism to the overall appearance of the dashboard. However, it is still a screen and that means spending more time looking away from the road while working the functions.
The Q7 features high on the list for those looking to be chauffeured driven and ticks off quite a few boxes to match up those requirements. There’s more than enough headroom and legroom for both occupants and even if you decide to bring in a third person, the transmission tunnel, AC vents are not an issue due to the size of the car. The seats are nice pattern and there’s a large armrest with two cup holders.
The third row as you can see is more of an option than a USP and quite short on space. The only advantage of the third row is that it’s the difference between carrying seven people and having to take an additional vehicle. The features in the third row are quite sparse and in fact, you only get cup holders as a part of the deal.
This fully-loaded model that we are driving for the review today gets quite a few bells and whistles. This list includes the three-screen system, four-zone climate control, park plus, electric steering adjustment, ambient lighting, air suspension, wireless charging, memory function for the driver’s seat, B&O sound system and Matrix LED headlamps. On the safety front, both variants get eight airbags, lane departure warning with steering assist, a 360-degree camera with a 3D view and hill ascent and descent control.
The most significant change to the face of this updated Q7 is the addition of Audi’s single-frame grille that has large vertical chrome elements onto which the logo has been adorned. Also updated are these full LED matrix headlamps that have a new design for the indicators.
In profile with its 5.06-meter length, the Q7 is long, muscular, imposing and will stand out in a crowd. The design for the alloy wheels have been updated and are these 19-inch units with a star design.
At the back, the updated Q7 gets this large chrome strip under the full LED tail lamps and while the layout and elements remain unchanged, the chrome strip does well to update the appearance here. The tail lamps, like the headlamps, get a new design within and look like an arrow pointing inwards.
The Audi Q7 had been out of the limelight in the big SUV fight since the advent of BS6 emission norms in India. In that time, its major rivals all entered a new generation or got major updates. Well, the Q7 is back now and as you can see Audi has ticked off most of the right boxes in terms of putting it back in the game.
It's fast, has effortless cruising ability and had been fitted with enough tech to induce buyers looking for the full Audi experience. On the flip side, it lacks some feel-good features for the rear occupants and is only available with petrol power. While the third row exists, it's short on space for adult occupants making it more of an extra feature than an outright useable element of the vehicle.
We expect Audi to price both versions of the Q7 in the range of Rs 1.00 crore to Rs 1.20 crore (All-India ex-showroom). It is a rival for the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLS, BMW X7, Volvo XC90 and the Range Rover Sport.
Photography: Kaustubh Gandhi