Why I would buy one?
- Smooth and powerful drivetrain
- Comfortable five-seater SUV
Why I wouldn’t buy one?
- Cabin not quite pampering
- Only one petrol-only engine option
Audi has played its game well in India with the Q7 being one of its highest-ranking cars, even outranking some rivals. This SUV has been lauded not only for its size and space but also for its on- and off-road performance. This time the carmaker has taken its latest version a notch higher with updated styling, design, and features. However, it comes only with a petrol drivetrain, unlike its predecessor's diesel counterpart. Despite lacking the frugal bit now, it sure is at par in terms of performance and capability. Rather superior, for what it brings to the table.
Engine and Performance
8 / 10
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.
Ride and Handling
8.5 / 10
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.
Interior Space and Quality
8.5 / 10
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.
Features and Equipment
8 / 10
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.
8 / 10
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