Audi Q7 3.0 TDI

quattro S line

Audi Q7, front
Audi Q7, side
Audi Q7, rear
Audi Q7, seats
Audi Q7, interior
Audi Q7, instrument panel

AUDI'S entry into the SUV sector, spearheaded by the original Q7 in 2006, has been a resounding success.

Today the German marque has several contenders, with even more on the way, though the Q7 continues to be its flagship SUV.

Now in its second incarnation it's an impressive all-rounder that combines quality and sophistication with comfort and practicality.

The second generation model follows firmly in the footsteps of the original but has a number of key improvements and enhancements which really do make a difference.

Looks-wise it's been tweaked and tucked - a familiar Audi trademark - rather than radically overhauled.

Audi are passed masters at evolution and the Q7 is a great example of that.

Some of the changes have been a little more transformational though.

I recall my first Q7 experience in the mid noughties as being generally good, though I found it somewhat big and bulky.

It meant some everyday suburban motoring tasks, such as parking in supermarket spaces and entering multi-story car parks, had to be enacted with a degree of care.

Its successor has been scaled-down - subtly so but enough to make a difference.

Narrower and shorter than the original it makes the Q7 much easier to drive around town and live with on a day to day basis.

It's also been slimmed-down considerably - being a whopping 325kg lighter than the original.

That has done much to enhance its driving dynamics and ultimately the whole feel of the vehicle.

The Q7 still comes with four-wheel drive though its clearly been engineered more towards on-road refinement than being able to cut it in the mud.

On the inside the Q7 is both practical and palatial. While the overall size of the car might have been reduced the cabin is still huge and has the ability to seat seven.

Fit and finish are exemplary and combined with high quality instrumentation and switchgear, it demonstrates that yet again Audi continues to set the pace.

In terms of engines there's a straight choice of one of two versions of a 3.0-litre diesel, offering either 215bhp or 268bhp.

This was the lower-powered model which felt extremely smooth, potent and capable.

However, if you do want a little more power at your disposal upgrading to the 268bhp version won't break the bank.

A manual gearbox isn't available, with all Q7's coming with a smooth and slick-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox.

My test car was S line trim which meant it featured plenty of comforts and extras, though the XE is also generously equipped and represents excellent value for money.

Standard equipment includes steering wheel-mounted controls Bluetooth and Audi's intuitive and easy to use MMI infotainment system. The sat-nav has to be one of the most user-friendly I've yet programmed.

Air suspension is an option and the highly rated system really does up comfort levels up a notch, though in fairness even without it the Q7 is an exceptionally comfortable car which soaks up the lumps and bumps with aplomb.

Even though it's a large SUV, the Q7 handles impressively. Sure, it sits higher but it feels nowhere near as high as something like a Range Rover Sport.

During my time at the wheel I felt it had more of the character of a sports-focused family estate than a full-size SUV.

You can select from a variety of driving modes but I found it at its best in dynamic mode. You can enhance its ‘sportiness' even further by utilising the automatic gearbox's sport mode rather than the standard one.

Its huge cabin is a great strength of the Q7. Driver and front seat passenger are spaciously and comfortably accommodated, as are rear seat passenger who are afforded plenty of knee, leg and head room.

Seats in the middle row can be slid forward and back individually and also reclined.

The two third row seats can be flipped up or down easily and don't do a bad job in terms of space and comfort levels - they even have their own cupholders too.

If you're using it as a five-seater the boot is generously proportioned and more than capable of serving the needs of a family either every day or when travelling.

Even when using the third row the boot maintains a degree of load-lugging capability.

With all seats folded fully flat the loadspace is cavernous - you could probably get a double wardrobe in there without too much bother, made even easier by the fact the boot has no lip to impinge access.

A powered tailgate used to be a bit of a novelty but is something that is becoming increasingly commonplace and comes as standard on the Q7.

FAST FACTS

Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro S line

Price:£51,950

Mechanical: 218bhp, 2,967cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 134mph

0-62mph: 7.3 seconds

Combined MPG: 48.7

Insurance Group: 36

C02 emissions: 150g/km

Bik rating: 27%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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