SQ7 is Audi's super

SUV

Audi SQ7, front
Audi SQ7, front
Audi SQ7, front
Audi SQ7, front
Audi SQ7, front
Audi SQ7, rear
Audi SQ7, side
Audi SQ7, rear
Audi SQ7, interior
Audi SQ7, gear lever
Audi SQ7, engine
Audi SQ7, badge

HIGH-POWERED SUVs are not a new phenomenon. The ground-breaking Porsche Cayenne, for instance, is 16 years old.

Purists hated the idea but the world greeted it with open arms and the German sports car manufacturer has never looked back.

Rivals such as the Range Rover Sport, soon followed and now Bentley, Lamborghini and Maserati produce luxurious and powerful SUVs. Even Rolls-Royce is belatedly joining the club.

Two years ago, Audi was the first to decide the world needed an all-weather seven-seater supercar.

Now priced from £73,945 on-the-road, the SQ7 TDI was not only the first ‘S' version of Audi's Q7 luxury SUV, but also the first series production car to use an electrically powered compressor (EPC) powered by a 48V subsystem to boost lowdown performance and reducing so-called turbo lag to history.

Put very simply, the EPC is an electrically driven turbo which augments two conventional turbochargers to generate unparalleled pulling power for a car in this class.

More clever technology - electromechanical active roll stabilisation - helps keep the V8-powered 2.3-tonne behemoth on the straight and narrow. Boy does it do that well. Despite its size, you can drive this beast in almost the same way as an R8. Incredible.

The new super Q7 derives its pace from a mighty 4.0 bi-turbo V8 TDI engine boosted by the revolutionary EPC from the second the accelerator pedal is depressed.

Developing 429bhp between 3,750rpm and 5,000rpm and with a phenomenal 900Nm of torque available from just 1,000rpm, the SUV quattro rushes from 0-62mph in under five seconds.

Despite all that it's rated at 39.2mpg with emissions of 190g/km.

On major roads and with the standard adaptive air suspension set to Comfort mode, the SQ7 is a refined, sumptuous and accomplished cruiser on its 20-inch alloys, with barely a whisper from the V8.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox shifts smoothly and quickly when you want it to but, like Audi's R8 supercar, is equally relaxed in everyday traffic.

Making such a huge SUV lightning quick in a straight line is relatively easy - well, for Audi it is - but to be an all-round supercar, it needs to corner well too. Which is where the optional £5,700 Driving Dynamics Sports Pack comes in handy. It encompasses the aforementioned active anti-roll system which virtually eliminates the body roll so often encountered with such high vehicles. Because it makes the Audi supremely stable in fast bends, it gives you the confidence to tackle twisty country roads quickly.

For once, paddleshifts on a car of this size make absolute sense. It is a surprising joy to drive on twisty roads at speed.

Of course, the SQ7 is an all-wheel drive SUV so should you feel the need for a little soft-roading there's also an off-road mode for the air suspension, which raises the car up by 60mm to help deal with the rutted tracks you may come across.

Housing all this technological accomplishment is a roomy yet aerodynamic body which, through clever use of lightweight materials.

To stand out from the crowd, the SQ7 comes with a unique radiator grille design, an aluminium finish for the side air inlets, mirror housings and door inlays, and LED headlights with a striking double-arrow light signature.

Under the skin, seven comfortable seats across three rows are upholstered in high quality Valcona leather, and the 235 litres of luggage space can be expanded to up to 1,890 litres helped by the electrically folding third seat row.

For the first time in the Q7 series, a sport differential actively controlling torque distribution between the rear wheels can also be specced. If there is grip, says Audi, it will help find it. All-wheel-steering is also available to promote even greater stability at higher speeds by turning the front and rear wheels in the same direction, and to aid low speed manoeuvrability in urban situations by turning them in opposing directions.

Vorsprung durch Technik indeedâ¦

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