Audi India has finally introduced us all to an all-new generation of the Q7 and while this 2015 model is leagues better than what it replaces, it’s got to face some old and newfound competition. With ex-showroom prices between Rs 72 lakh and Rs 77.5 lakh, the new Q7 is lined up against other heavyweights like the BMW X5 and the Volvo XC90. While the Beemer has been around for quite some time and is still fighting fit, the XC90 is all-new and like the Q7, heralds a major departure in both design and technology.
Unlike the norm nowadays, the new Q7 is smaller than the old model. In fact, it’s 37mm shorter and 15mm narrower with virtually the same height. Inside, however, there is an additional 21mm between the first and second rows of seats and there’s more headroom as well. Design wise, the 2015 model adopts Audi’s new design language which now sees their cars moving away from rounded edges to sharper features. As a result, the single frame grille is deeply sculpted and its thicker frame extends to the Matrix LED headlights. At the back, the horizontally biased design theme is evident through the sharply designed taillights and the rear hatch which wraps around the steeply raked D-pillars, a typical feature of the Q models.
The new XC90 is the first Volvo to carry the Swedish automaker’s distinctive new front-end design that will eventually make its way to all of their future models. The T-shaped "Thor's Hammer" daytime running lights easily are the most striking looking among all the XXL-size SUVs. On the sides, the XC90's prominent beltline and the sharpened shoulders connecting the rear lights are other design bits that will be mirrored across the range.
The X5 is the oldest SUV here, a fact that it belies with its fairly modern design. It may look quite ordinary in profile with its upright A-pillars and lack of bulging wheel arches but BMW’s trademark design cues like the kidney grille and the twin circular headlights still leave a good impression up front. The rear, meanwhile, houses a fairly large split folding tailgate, twin exhausts and the familiar LED taillight design.
Despite its smaller proportions than before, the Q7’s cabin is more spacious. All the lines on the dashboard are taut and with a strict horizontal orientation. Although the dashboard itself looks less busy this time around, there are still plenty of buttons and knobs to fiddle with. For this new model, Audi has introduced its Virtual Cockpit technology for the fully digital instrument cluster. The customisable screen displays navigation, speed information and all the multimedia functions.
Other highlighting features in the new Q7 include a large touchpad next to the gearstick, Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus, premium Bose audio system, four-zone climate control and assistance systems like auto park assist and 360 degree surround camera with bird’s eye-view. With the third and second row of seats folded down, total luggage space stands at 1,955 litres.
The new XC90 boasts of what is probably the cleanest looking interior design in a long time. With minimal amount of buttons and knobs and simple yet elegant layout, the Volvo’s cabin is fuss free and properly luxurious. All of this is possible because of the tablet-like touch screen console on the dashboard which forms the heart of the XC90’s new in-car control system.
Like the old model, the new XC90 is also a genuine seven seater with good amount of comfort levels even in the third row. Meanwhile, the second row features three individual seats with recline adjustment and sliding function to create more legroom in the third row.
The interior of the X5 is familiar territory for BMW enthusiasts. Nearly the entire cabin right from the dashboard design to the iDrive screen can also be seen in smaller BMW models. However, it’s no bad thing since the quality of materials used in here generally is first-rate. Standard features in the X5 include multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel, semi digital instrument cluster, electric seats, BMW’s iDrive infotainment system with a 10.2-inch screen and lots more. BMW India is offering the X5 in both five and seven-seater form with the latter costing an additional 3 lakh over the five-seater model.
Globally, Audi is offering the Q7 in both petrol and diesel form but for the Indian market, the brand has gone ahead with the 3-litre TDI engine – their global bestseller. Churning out 249bhp of power and 600Nm of torque, it can propel the Q7 from 0-100kmph in 7.1 seconds. The improved performance is all thanks to significantly lighter underpinnings. Compared to the previous gen model, the new Q7 comes with a weight saving equivalent to a grand piano, at 325kg.
The new 3-litre unit is paired with a quick-shifting 8-speed tiptronic gearbox and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system.
Interestingly, Volvo has already made it clear that their forthcoming range of cars won’t have anything with more than four cylinder engines and spearheading this downsized movement is the new XC90. Even with all its bulk, this full-size luxury SUV is being offered with a relatively small 2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine. Volvo, however, has managed to extract 225bhp and an impressive 470Nm of torque out of this motor. This all-new unit is paired to an economy-minded 8-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive.
The BMW X5 is a lot more traditional in this sense and continues to be powered by a free revving 3-litre, straight six diesel engine that makes 258bhp of max power and 560Nm of torque. Complementing the smooth nature of the six-cylinder engine is the proven ZF 8-speed automatic gearbox that sends power to all four wheels via BMW’s road-oriented xDrive all-wheel drive system.
With ex-showroom prices between Rs 72 and Rs 77.5 lakh, the new Audi Q7 comes across as the least pocket-friendly buy in the full-size luxury SUV space. However, it’s also the newest vehicle here and one that’s loaded to the brim with feel-good tech like the fully-digital instrument cluster (Virtual Cockpit, in Audi speak) and the touch sensitive control pad, to name a few. The BMW X5, on the other hand, is the oldest of this lot but still manages to hide its massive bulk when it comes to on-road dynamics. At Rs 65.90 lakh to Rs 72.90 lakh, it’s also the most affordable choice.
The Volvo XC90’s price range is fairly wide spread with the Momentum variant coming in at Rs 64.9 lakh and the top-spec Inscription variant that costs Rs 77.9 lakh. The XC90 is also the least powerful and arguably carries the least valued badge among luxury carmakers; however, there is no denying the fact that it’s just as luxurious and good looking as its German counterparts.