The Q7 is one of the most popular full-size luxury SUVs in India and Audi updated the second-generation Q7 in late 2020. It is expected to arrive in the country sometime in the third quarter of 2021. The Q7 will be available only in the seven-seat version here.
The updated Q7 follows Audi’s newest design philosophy. It features new Matrix LED headlamps with integrated DRLs. Similarly, there is a huge redesigned hexagonal grille as well as new front and rear bumpers. The SUV also gets all-LED tail lamps at the rear. Besides, the updated Q7 is equipped with new 20-inch alloy wheels.
Audi has transformed the old-fashioned interior of the Q7 into an ultramodern cockpit, especially with the new fancy dashboard. Moreover, Audi offers a three-screen setup that includes a 12.3-inch digital cockpit, 10.1-inch infotainment system and below that there is an 8.6-inch MMI display. Besides, the front seats feature electric assist and massage function while both the front and second-row seats get heated and ventilation function.
There are a plethora of features in the updated Q7 which include a head-up display, park assist, driver assistance tour pack, advanced warning system, blind-spot assistance, four-zone temperature control, valcona leather trim, adaptive air suspension, soft door close, 19-speaker Bose sound system, multi-colour extended LED interior lighting pack, 360-camera and park assist with park aid plus.
India will only get a petrol powertrain unlike the three powertrain options available in the international market - A 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine paired with an eight-speed automatic and makes 335bhp.
|Power and Torque||335 bhp & 500 Nm|
Powered by a 3.0-litre V6 petrol unit producing 335bhp and 500Nm, it's more powerful than the pre-BS6 Q7 that came with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol mill producing 248bhp and 370Nm. Even for that matter, the 245bhp, 3.0-litre V6 diesel mill. It's unfortunate that the diesel powertrain is gone now with the paradigm shift towards petrol and electric cars. Nonetheless, this petrol version still has its various benefits.
The extra power doesn't throw you back in the seat and when moving from a standstill, the turbo shove comes in a beat. Audi claims the Q7 can sprint from 0-100kmph in just 5.9seconds, which is brilliant for a mammoth weighing over two tonnes. And it's quite believable, for the throttle response is good and the smooth-shifting eight-speed obeys to be in the right gear with power always on tap. Moreover, the abundant torque provides enough grunt to get going even at around 1,500rpm. Besides, it starts to gather quick speed past the 2,000rpm mark. All of this while the engine is super silent and the cabin feels quiet too, owing to the good NVH levels inside. It's only past 3,500rpm when the V6 gnarls, which is more of music than noise.
Lest we forget, driving modes like auto, comfort, efficiency, off-road, all-road, dynamic, and individual help alter engine characteristics, throttle response, gearbox, steering, and suspension settings. Still, the biggest advantage is the powerful engine that helps the huge Q7 progress swiftly unlike the outgoing petrol. Be it city or highway, the nicely stacked ratios of the eight-speed transmission enable a smooth gearshift transition. It's even quick to drop a cog or two while flooring the pedal to gain speed. And if you wish to gain control by yourself, there are paddle-shifters and an option to shift to S or the manual mode. Here, you can rev till its redline at 6,400rpm. That will rarely be the case though, as the SUV easily cruises at triple-digit speeds within 3,000rpm while keeping it fairly quiet. Something that’s expected from a vehicle like this.
Like the outgoing Q7, this one too gets an adaptive suspension, ensuring a comfortable ride. Given its premium positioning and luxury proposition, it will mostly dwell in the high-rises with barely any off-roading. Still, the unreliable road conditions in our country might expose an unknown territory and for that, you have 'Quattro'. That's Audi's famous AWD technology which, along with the torque distribution and electronic aids, will help you out of a tricky situation. The off-road mode further helps raise the suspension and limits the car’s speed. The Q7 anyway provides a plush ride absorbing bumps with ease at slow speeds. Even a high-speed ride feels a bit buoyant for passengers over road crests, and it settles pretty well.
Now for the handling bit, manoeuvring such a huge car is indeed a big task but the quick and light steering, with just a little over two-and-a-half turns, makes it fairly easy. It even weighs up adequately at high speeds with progressive turn-ins. Yes, there’s some body-roll for this high-riding heavyweight vehicle. However, it doesn't feel uncomfortable around long bends or when taking tight corners at a steady pace. Then, cutting down on speed is stress-free even under panic braking. One, there's a good bite and progression at the brake pedal, and two, the Bridgestone tyres grip well.
The return of this full-size SUV also brings back the same spacious cabin but with interesting changes. The pop-up rectangular infotainment screen is now replaced by a bigger dash-integrated screen along with another screen in the centre console, eliminating all the buttons from the dash and many from the centre console along with the touchpad. Now, it certainly will take a while for you to get used to the tactile feel of the screen than buttons, without taking your sight off the road. Still, ergonomics haven't changed much and things are within easy reach. Furthermore, the fingerprint-magnet piano black embellishments along with the brush aluminium inserts exude a nice luxurious look and feel. Even the leather-wrapped upholstery, seats, door pads, fit and finish, and quality of materials are great examples of precision engineering.
Talking about space, there's loads of it and with the electrically-adjustable seats with memory function, tall or short — anyone can find a perfect seating position. Then, the second row hasn't changed at all and has ample space. Besides, the large seats are accommodating, the reclining backrest adds to the comfort, and since the seat base isn't too close to the ground, there's good thigh support as well. Now, the third row, and getting in there is a big task. In fact, staying there isn't comfortable either for the lack of knee-room and under-thigh support. It still can be used to ferry kids around or for a short trip, but wouldn't be a fun place to be in.
Audi's virtual cockpit, which is a fully digital instrument cluster with customisable layouts, is carried over and still is a unique system. The novelty factor has now doubled up with Audi's MMI infotainment unit being paired to a B&O 3D sound system. It's updated with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, smart connectivity and also acts as a central system for various functions. These include ambient lighting, ioniser, drive modes, telephony, navigation, and more. There's wireless charging as well and the second MMI touch display takes care of the four-zone climate control.
However, there's no electrically-adjustable steering or massage seats. The latter should have been a feature for a car of this stature and would have added to the passenger's delight. Though the Q7 has always been known for top-notch safety, some noteworthy safety features include eight airbags, lane departure warning with steering assist, ABS, ESC, emergency brake assist, and park assist plus with 360 camera. Additionally, there's automatic parking and the driver needs to keep a button pressed for it, which works well, considering safety. But I still would have liked it to park completely by itself.
When the new-gen Audi Q7 was launched in 2015, all the bulky proportions were toned down for an athletic yet massive road presence. Then, significant updates to the interior aced up the game amongst its competitors. Yes, the numerous cosmetic updates like a single-frame grille, revised headlamps, tail lamps etc. add to the sophistication. Still, I feel I could have been pampered more for a chauffeur-driven experience. That said, the new screens and feature updates do make the Q7 a modern up-to-date Audi. Yet, it might be a little tough to convince Audi buyers for this full-size SUV comes as a petrol drivetrain only. Meanwhile, its competitors like the Mercedes-Benz GLS, BMW X7, and Land Rover Discovery have a diesel option to cater with. All of these are seven-seater premium SUVs ranging from Rs 1-1.5 crore. We expect Audi to launch the Q7 sometime this or coming month in the Rs 1-1.2 crore price bracket.
Pictures by Kaustubh Gandhi