SOMETIMEs big isn't best. Audi recognised that when they designed their latest Q7, an imposing seven-seater SUV that tends to appeal more to city dwelling professionals and busy mums than farmers or off-road adventurers.
Narrower, slightly shorter and a full 325kg lighter than the first Q7, it's also less daunting in appearance with sharper lines and angles replacing those muscle-bound, macho curves.
Despite reduced dimensions the current model still has room for seven passengers as well as their luggage. Best of all, this low-fat model is much more wieldy and generally a better, more nimble drive.
The 3.0 TDI which I drove in high spec S Line form has a useful 268bhp six cylinder diesel at the helm. There is also less potent 3.0 diesel. Two trim levels are available - SE and the higher spec S Line.
The first Q7 appeared more than 10 years ago and was a huge hit. But since then the game has moved on with more and more manufacturers joining the SUV club.
Audi knew it was necessary to make the replacement more agile and with car-like handling, limousine luxury and a meagre thirst.
Designers turned to the then new MLB platform which also underpins the latest A4 range for its strength and lightness.
It uses more than 70 per cent aluminium combined with high strength steel. Not only have the changes benefited handling by making it feel more alert, but the steering has more feel, relaying greater amounts of road information back to the driver.
Directional changes are also better coped with and the car feels more stable during spirited cornering. Owners can adjust handling and ride individually through the onboard Drive Select Modes.
With masses of torque and 268bhp at hand, supported by quattro four wheel drive, the Q7 is a fast means of transport. 62mph comes up in 6.5 seconds and the top speed is 145mph. An eight speed Tiptronic automatic looks after gear changing smoothly and rapidly without any sense of drama.
You'd expect ample luggage room within the large body, and the Q7 doesn't disappoint. With five onboard and the final row of seats neatly folded away there's 770 litres of cargo space.
Even when all seven seats are occupied there remains 295 litres spare for bags. With the two rows of seats folded, almost 2,000 litres of boot is available. That final row is fine for youngsters but cramped for adults.
The cabin is appropriately upmarket with perfectly made and fitted mouldings, high grade leather and up-to-the-minute technology including a 12.3-inch virtual cockpit with a screen directly in front of the driver. Audi Connect system provides access to emails and you can specify a sound system with up to 23 speakers.
Standard equipment includes rear parking sensors. LED headlights, 20in alloy wheels, heated electric seats, cruise control and four zone climate control.
Official combined economy is put at 47.1mpg with emissions of just 158g/km. During real life driving 38-41mpg is a pleasing likelihood.