Audi's new Q7 - the thinking man's SUV

Audi’s second generation Q7 is a touch smarter than a standard rough ‘n tough off-roader.

Damien Reid July 6, 2015

In this line of work, you get to play with some nice cars but you’re also placed in some pretty scary situations from either finding the car’s limits or trying out its new features. However, I never thought deliberately driving in to a potential head-on collision would be one of them.

Here we were, in a sectioned off area of car park in the stunning alpine setting of Verbier, Switzerland with the new Audi Q7. Fritz, our instructor was behind the wheel and ahead was another Audi waiting for the flash of headlights to signal the start of a real-world demonstration.

Heading off at a moderate 35kmh, the two cars, in opposing lanes drove toward each other until Fritz began to slowly veer into the oncoming lane just as the other Audi approached.

At this point it was time to shut the eyes and pray when in an instant, the brakes jammed on and the car gave a sudden jolt, saving us from an imminent crash. The heart rate was up but Audi’s pre-sense driver assist system kicked in and took over the driving as well as rolled up the windows and closed the sunroof.

It’s the thin end of the wedge for what will become more automated driving when the car takes over from the person behind the wheel and this new Q7 carries a swag of new automated safety goodies that will trickle down into other new Audi models.

How about parking by itself? Yep it does that whether it’s parallel parking or nose in. It will literally drive itself into and out of the spot and if it is parallel parking and you open your door onto the street it will also look out for you.

Warning lights on the door mirrors as well as the full length of the interior door trim light up if you attempt to open the door as a car passes by. It can also reverse park a trailer for you, brake, accelerate and steer itself up to 60kmh in traffic and cook you breakfast. One of those is a lie. 

The Q7 is an important model for Audi given motorists continuing love for SUVs, but this second generation version is especially important as it also debuts the VW Group’s new platform which will not only underpin the next generation of Porsche Cayenne, VW Touareg and the all-new Bentley Bentayga SUV, but it will be the basis for every front-engined Audi from the A4 up.

As it’s required to be pulled in so many directions within the Audi/VW empire, it needs to be at the cutting edge of technology and as light as possible so it’s reassuring to see that the new Q7 is a whopping 325kgs lighter than its predecessor. 

The designers have done a great job in giving this new model the impression of being bigger in every way than the outgoing version, helped by the wide-set rear exhausts and wrap-around tail lights but the reality is that it’s a tad narrower and shorter than the old model.

The interior features a wide minimalist dash design and materials that look and feel expensive to the touch. There's a high definition 8-inch pop up screen in the centre of the dash which displays the navigation system while an optional 12.3-inch ‘virtual cockpit’ digital display replaces a set of analogue dials, also debuted on the TT earlier this year. Both are controlled via a touchpad and control wheel which slims down the number of buttons required on the console.

The specs

  • Engine: 3.0-litre supercharged V6

  • Power: 333bhp @ 5,500rpm

  • Torque: 440Nm @ 2900rpm

  • 0-100kmh: 6.1 seconds

  • Top Speed: 250kmh

  • Price: AED 275,000

On paper, it might seem that dropping the V8 engine option is a bit short sighted for the Middle East, but the reality is that the new supercharged, 3-litre V6 which will be the engine for this region, more than covers the gap and when combined with the eight-speed automatic transmission was stonkingly good on the steep and windy mountain passes that criss-crossed the Swiss countryside.

For a vehicle that can carry up to seven passengers, 0-100kmh was passed in 6.3 seconds (6.1 for the five-seater) and it has a governed top speed of 250kmh.

The new Q7 isn’t about traversing the rough and tough wilderness as Audi knows its buyers. So as an all-round, versatile family car that’s loaded to the rafters with intelligent safety oriented technology, uses a fuel efficient, yet powerful engine and has the best in-car audio system I’ve heard in years, it’s perhaps the ultimate thinking man’s SUV.