The Q7 has more headline grabbing numbers. At 1,995kg for this 3.0 TDI version, the new Q7 is well over 300kg lighter than the previous model, thanks to Audi using Volkswagen’s lightweight and flexible MLB platform. Even Volvo has paid special attention towards weight saving measures by using a lot of aluminium bits underneath the XC90’s shell.
The Audi Q7, then, is not only impressive but also surprisingly good on the move. The familiar 3-litre V6 diesel motor develops 245bhp and 600Nm of torque in this new model and since it has relatively less bulk to lug around, performance is more than adequate for all occasions. Add the quick-shifting 8-speed tiptronic gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive into the mix and the Q7 can hit 100kmph from standstill in just 6.74 seconds. In comparison, the XC90’s 2-litre, four-cylinder engine with 225bhp and ‘just’ 470Nm of torque seems anaemic and with a 0-100kmph time of 8.66 seconds, this Volvo is nowhere as sprightly; however, the Swedish brand is hardly bothered. Volvo, in fact, is betting big on small, turbocharged engines that will soon flood their entire car range.
Coming back to the XC90, it’s down on both displacement and power which should ideally result in it being left in the shadow of the considerably more powerful Q7, and that’s indeed the case here. Be it outright acceleration or in-gear responsiveness, the four-banger powering the Volvo is no match for the more powerful and noticeably more refined V6 lurking under the Audi’s hood.
On its own though, the XC90 is quick to react both in the city and out on the highway, thanks to the flat torque spread and an efficient 8-speed automatic gearbox. If anything, this engine behaves its best on part throttle wherein it can ride the wave of torque and allow the gearbox to upshift early. However, do note that at low to medium speeds, the XC90’s gearbox likes to hunt around a bit more than the Q7’s unit when it comes to finding the right gear. Despite this, the XC90 just about manages to beat the Q7 when it comes to fuel efficiency. During our efficiency runs, the XC90 returned 8.7kmpl in the city and 12.6kmpl on the highway whereas the Audi managed 8kmpl and 11.9kmpl in similar conditions.
As for ride and handling, the Q7 feels slightly more planted over bad roads while the XC90tends to ride a bit clunky across similar surfaces. But, the XC90 has better steering response. It reacts more predictably in individual drive modes and ultimately lends more feedback too. Lastly, it’s worth noting that the Q7 is more manageable and easier to navigate through traffic in. The low-set dashboard and slim A-pillars play their part here.