Audi SQ7 is torque

of the town

Audi SQ7, side
Audi SQ7, front
Audi SQ7, rear
Audi SQ7, interior
Audi SQ7, grille
Audi SQ7, drive mode display
Audi SQ7, engine
Audi SQ7, V8 badge
Audi SQ7, vehicle settings display

THINK SUVs and it conjures up images of practical, versatile cars - some very stylish, some not quite so high on quality - but rarely do you enter a 0-62 sprint time of 4.9 seconds into the equation.

Admittedly there are high-end versions out there such as the Range Rover Sport and Porsche Cayenne, but now Audi has introduced a flagship model to its Q7 line-up and it has pretty impressive performance stats along with some very interesting new and innovative technology.

Beneath the bonnet is an all-new 4.0-litre V8 twin-turbodiesel engine delivering 435ps and 900Nm of grunt, giving the SQ7 the highest power to weight ratio in class and the highest torque to weight ratio in class.

It is also the first car to feature an electrically-powered compressor which is designed to speed up response times, so giving instant power at low revs and eradicating any signs of turbo lag. And that, in layman's terms, translates into instant power.

The SQ7 looks stunning from any angle and its athletic stance is guaranteed to deliver quite a presence on the roads.

Styling cues include 21-inch alloys, Audi Matrix LED headlights, a single frame grille, red painted brake callipers with the S logo, LED tail lights with dynamic sweeping indicators, S styling on the bumper, side ventilation grilles, side skirt and roof spoiler, a panoramic sunroof, privacy glass and lots of chrome trim.

Step inside and the level of on-board technology simply cannot fail to impress.

The luxury that surrounds you is premium in every sense of the word and there are creature comforts and techno treats galore to be explored.

The car features Audi's superb virtual cockpit set-up that was first seen on the TT a couple of years back - this allows the driver to personalise the information that is displayed.

In addition there is a head-up display, BOSE 3D sound system, a 8.3-inch high resolution touchscreen, multi-media interface with sat nav, DAB digital radio and smartphone connectivity, ambient lighting and a list that seemingly never ends.

The SQ7 is an exceptionally spacious seven seater with a third row of seats that fold down flush to the boot floor.

When full to capacity the boot still caters for 235 litres. With the rear seats dropped that capacity increases to 705 litres and with the 35:30:35 split-folding rear seats flat a whopping 1,890 litres of storage is available.

The car is priced at £70,970, but in true Audi tradition a raft of optional extras bumped up the car I sampled to £95,160. That said; many of the options were upgrades to systems that would be fine as standard, so the increase can be monitored to suit demand and budgets accordingly.

The first thing that has to be mentioned when you take your seat (heated and leather of course) behind the three-spoke flat-bottomed leather multi-function sport steering wheel is just how comfortable the car is.

The all-round visibility from the high seating position is superb as is the attention to details with all controls, dials and instrumentation perfectly positioned for ease of use.

Push the start button and the car rumbles into life, add slight pressure to the throttle and that rumble becomes more of a roar and is a not-so-subtle insight into what's in store.

The eight-speed automatic transmission is beautifully responsive and you can take a little more control via the paddle shifts if the mood takes you.

The acceleration is blisteringly fast for such a colossus of a vehicle and yet it handles with outstanding agility - even when pushed hard into bends. Another notable factor is how well insulated and silent the cabin remains with very little wind, road or engine noise.

Motorway cruising is effortless as the car seems to glide along eating up the miles, and then busy towns with lots of congestion pose few problems thanks to that great visibility and a whole range of parking aids.

We even took the car on an off-road course and it weaved its way through slippery fields and climbed muddy banks with absolute ease. Well it does boast quattro all-wheel drive after all, and the off-road setting adds further to its capabilities.

Other settings such as Dynamic can be activated when you really want to crank up the responses and sharpen the handling.

The top speed on this powerhouse has been electronically limited to 155mph and according to official figures the SQ7 can deliver combined fuel economy of 37.2mpg with carbon emissions of 199g/km (on 21-inch tyres).

And, being an Audi, the car is packed to bursting with comprehensive safety specifications to protect occupants and pedestrians alike.

All in all, the Audi SQ7 is a masterclass in technology and premium styling. Okay, it's not cheap, but the entry price is very competitive and the longer you spend driving the car the more its appeal grows as does its value.

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