Audi’s new Q7 is something of a watershed moment in the SUV invasion – the second generation is not only better-looking, it’s smaller looking. Out has gone the big, bluff get-out-of-my-way bling of the old car and in has come a chiselled, more restrained machine. It’s also a handy 325kg lighter.

There hasn’t been any let-up on the technology front, though. A powerful diesel engine, seven seats and a festival of gadgets and safety gear means the Q7 is an option-picker’s delight.

The Q7 range is a single car deal at the moment, the 3.0 TDI with eight-speed automatic starting at $103,900, around $12,000 more expensive than the car it replaces (although it’s probably not a direct replacement).

This not-insignificant outlay buys you a ten speaker stereo with Bluetooth and proper USB, 19-inch alloys wheels, dual-zone climate control, funky daytime running lights and LED interior lighting, DVD player, DAB+ radio, electric seats up front, sat-nav, bi-xenon adjustable headlights, auto wipers and headlights, partial leather seats, leather steering wheel, park assist and auto-parking, powered tailgate, power mirrors.


Our car came with a long list of options – Audi Connect ($750), metallic paint ($2400!), Assistance Package with active cruise and lane assist ($4075), four-zone climate control ($1950), Matrix LED headlights ($5500), interior lighting package ($1380), adaptive air suspension ($4950), aluminium interior trim with oak ($2170) and 3D Bose surround sound ($2775), bringing a total of $129,850.

Terrifyingly, there’s plenty more options to be had, such as all-wheel steering ($2775), S-Line ($7460-$10085), panoramic sunroof ($4250), and incredible 23-speaker B&O system ($14850) – you get the picture. You could easily drop $200,000 on this car.

The new Q7 could easily be mistaken for an A6 Allroad, and more than once it was. The front treatment is quite similar but look closely and you’ll see that the Q7 is taller, longer and bit, well, slabbier.

As always, this Audi has very cool lighting to pick it out on the road, with the matrix LED headlights putting on quite a show. It rolls on big 19-inch wheels and they look just right in far less yawning wheel arches.

The new Q7 is shorter than the old car by about 30mm, 15mm narrower, has a slightly shorter wheel base and is 31mm lower. And yes, we think that’s all to make room for a bigger Q8.


Having said that, it’s still very spacious inside, with a usable third row (featuring electric lift and stow, if you please) and an adjustable middle row to help get the balance right.

The cockpit is by far the coolest on the planet, with Audi’s completely digital dashboard from the TT taking pride of place in front of the driver, although Q7 passengers get a more traditional central screen.

There’s lots of storage throughout, including an appropriate number of cupholders and the second and third rows get proper air-conditioning vents.

The interior LED lighting is deadly cool, the fine strips along the trim switching to red when the driver flicks to Dynamic mode.

Six airbags, blind spot monitoring, active safety bonnet, around-vision cameras, forward collision warning and mitigation, stability and traction controls, lane departure warning, hill descent control, brake force distribution, reverse cross-traffic warning. The Q7 scored five ANCAP stars.

An up-spec MMI handles the way-finding and music duties in the Q7, with not only a rotary dial but the touchpad previously seen in the A8 limo. The retractable central screen is 8-inches, with excellent contrast and clear graphics.

Our car’s 19-speaker Bose was predictably powerful and, of course, easy to use while the sat-nav was bristling with useful information and reacts to voice commands like, “I’m hungry,” by finding nearby places to eat, even asking what you feel like.

Only the 3.0 TDI is available and that’s in “high power” form – which means a rough ten percent increase on the older car, with power up by 20kW to 200kW and torque up 50Nm to 600Nm.

Audi says you’ll see off 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds (presumably when you’re not carrying heavy options like air suspension) and get 5.6L/100km, which is highly unlikely.

The eight-speed ZF is along for the ride, as is stop-start and we saw 9.2L/100km in a good mix of city and freeway running.

For such a big car, the Q7 is superb. With its drop in weight, extra grunt and the nip and tuck in all directions, this is a more friendly car to live with, feeling almost a size smaller.

From behind the wheel you still get a good view out, with plenty of gadgets to help you stay in your lane and not drive into other people. The active cruise works in traffic, giving you near-autonomous driving, you just need to steer it.

The steering itself is a little over-assisted but given the target market, nobody us going to mind not having a fistful of feel as you power along a mountain road. Not really that kind of car.

The 3.0 TDI engine is more than up to the task, that massive 600Nm of torque coming in nice and strong low in the rev range, the 8-speed transmission shifting smoothly and quickly without getting lost in all those ratios. Critically for petrol fans, it doesn’t sound like a diesel. Actually it doesn’t sound like anything – it’s extremely quiet in the cabin, better to enjoy the space and comfort.

The new Q7 is a huge leap forward from the old car, dropping size and weight without adverse impact on the seven occupants. While it might cost a lot more than the previous car, there’s a lot more in it and if you’re switching up from an executive sedan, it will look like exceptional value, even if you load it up with options.

There’s something for everyone in the Q7 – power, space, brilliant technology, all wrapped in a restrained, handsome package.

LIKES: New, better looks; bristling with tech; great engine/transmission
DISLIKES: high price of entry, only one model (for now at least), tight space for third row passengers.

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