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    Audi SQ7 Drive Review

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    Vikrant Singh

    26,249 Views

    What is it?

    This is a bright blue, technologically superior and bigger wheeled twin of what is already a delectable full-sized luxury SUV, the new Audi Q7. Okay, you can order the Audi SQ7 – yes, that's what it is called for it is faster as well – in more colours than just blue, but the SQ7 just looks brilliant in this colour.

    And there's more. Audi has introduced a 48 volt electrical system on the SQ7 – first for a production car – which works along with the regular 12 volt system we have been getting in cars for the longest time. The 48 volt system – powered up by a 13kw lithium ion battery is essentially there to work two things. First is the electric powered compressor or EPC and second is the new electromechanical active anti-roll bars.

    The Audi SQ7 also gets a new engine. In fact, it only comes with one, a 4.0-litre V8 diesel that produces a peak torque output of a mammoth 900Nm. And all of it is available from a shockingly low 1000rpm!

    How is it on the inside?

    The interiors of the SQ7 are almost identical to the Q7. So, it is beautifully built, opulent and packed with features. This European spec model gets everything. The lovely virtual cockpit that throws up info from speed to rpm to turbo boost utilisation. Additionally, satnav directions, range, trip and outside temperature indication is also thrown up. It can be quite busy but it can also be programmed to be more basic and uncluttered. There's four zone climate control, front seats with adjustable side bolstering and heating and cooling, and an easy to use and intuitive MMI system too. Plus, there’s keyless entry and start. But, there’s no sunroof.

    And because it is an SUV, there's enough space for five and a little less for two in the third row. The SQ7 feels airy too and has comfy rear seats. Fold the third row and there's lots of space for luggage to be had as well!

    How does it drive?

    Now this is where things get interesting. We told you about the new engine. What we didn't tell you was that apart from the EPC, the new 4.0-litre diesel unit is force-fed by two turbochargers. The EPC comes into play at the very start of the RPM range cutting turbo lag to zilch. Then, the smaller turbo comes online run by the exhaust gases escaping from one of the two exhaust valves. The second valve remains closed till around 2500rpm. It's post this mark that the SQ7 comes alive with both the turbos on song. And the icing is the way this new engine sounds, both at idle and when on boost. It has this enticing drumming sound at idle which turns into a lovely baritone as the revs rise. But, don't expect that manic, visceral note typical of high revving petrol V8s.

    This setup, meanwhile, helps the 432bhp V8 deliver a linear, potent and instantaneous response. Stamp on the throttle and the SQ7's nose rises up, its fat 285 section tyres hook up and the SUV simply takes off. And there's no let off in the push all the way to its 5,000rpm redline. A quick upshift later, it's back to being pinned to the seat and watching that speedo climb unabated to its limited top speed of 250kmph.

    What makes the SQ7's performance even more likeable is that the engine remains refined throughout. And if you choose to feather the throttle instead of killing it, the Audi will still go about covering miles with the sort of urgency and effortlessness that one doesn't generally associate with SUVs, especially those that weigh almost 2.5 tonnes.

    One also doesn't associate crisp turn in, flat body control, and tremendous amounts of grip with such a heavy SUV. But, with the SQ7 set to Dynamic this Audi does exactly that. The steering doesn't serve up much feel, but it is quick. Then, the SQ7 masks its weight both when one points its nose into a corner and then actually goes around one with such deftness, you will be hard pressed to actually call it an SUV. It feels light and eager, and then at corner exits with its quattro's torque vectoring working overtime, it exits bends as if it were a light and lithe gymnast, and not the Rock.

    All this is made possible thanks to the trick electromechanical anti-roll bars, the sport differential, and the four-wheel steer system. The latter makes this hulking SUV behave like a smaller car around bends, while the sport differential balances the torque going to different wheels to maximise traction. The electromechanical anti-roll bars meanwhile use an electric motor to run off the 48-volt electric system which constantly adjusts the stiffness of the sway bar to lend a comfortable ride in a straight line and tighter body control around bends. Its response is based on the steering input and the lateral forces at play. And it works beautifully.

    Should I buy one?

    If you are young, affluent, and love driving, not to mention like to stand out and draw appreciative nods courtesy your car choice, the Audi SQ7 is for you. It won't come cheap though. Over a crore would be our estimate. It will be launched in India in a few months time as a CBU, but Audi says, it still isn’t sure what all from this test drive car will actually make it to the Indian model. If I were Audi and I wanted buyers to see value in the SQ7, I would definitely bring in the electromechanical sway bars, the sport differential and the four-wheel steer.

    Where does it fit in?

    'RS' models for Audi generally take on AMGs and M cars from Mercedes and BMW, respectively. But in the SQ7's case, it is this S model that Audi intends pitching against the likes of the X5M and GLE AMG. And just so it makes sense, it should undercut both in terms of pricing.

    Click here to read our first drive review of the regular Audi Q7

    Click here to read our comparison test between the Audi Q7 and the Volvo XC90

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