THINK seven-seater family cars and you conjure up all sorts of images of people carriers that are practical but lack real charisma or style. The Audi Q7 dispels that myth completely.
Yes, it offers seating for seven and it can tow a family caravan across boggy surfaces, but this Q7, in top specification Vorsprung format, can also sprint from 0-62mph in 5.9 seconds and maxes out at 155mph - no normal people mover then!
The five-door SUV has been designed to cover all the practical bases, but has not compromised on performance along the way. With a 3.0-litre V6 mild hybrid petrol engine delivering 340PS and 500Nm of torque, it meets all the handling demands.
It does carry a premium price-tag of £84,625 (£85,550 with options) and the day-to-day running costs are quite steep too. According to official figures under WLTP testing, the car can deliver a combined 25.7mpg with carbon emissions of 250g/km.
The Q7 is quite an imposing looking car with plenty of road presence. It features a black grille with black Audi logo, black roof rails, running boards, black door mirrors, tinted windows, Audi HD Matrix LED headlights with laser light and dynamic front and rear indicators, along with 22-inch alloy wheels.
Moving inside, the interior is spacious, bright and packed with technology. A panoramic sunroof allows light to flood into the cabin and the quilted leather seats are powered, heated, ventilated and even offer a massage function.
There is a heated steering wheel, chunky gear lever, rear window blinds, lots of soft-touch surfaces, polished oak trimmings and lots of kit to explore. Creature comforts include a Bang & Olufsen sound system, full navigation, smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a 36-month subscription to Amazon Alexa, four-zone climate control and the Audi Virtual Cockpit plus with its neat digital drivers display that can be personalised.
There are two touchscreens stacked vertically - one is for the infotainment system and the second offers access to all the climate control settings.
When it comes to performance, the Q7 is a dream to drive. Despite its large dimensions - it stretches more than five metres in length - it is deceptively agile and the excellent all-round driver visibility is another plus point.
But it's the handling on the country lanes that really impressed. It was beautifully balanced with sharp acceleration through the eight-speed automatic gearbox. The grip was exceptional and body movement was barely noticeable, which again is unusual on this high-sided type of vehicle.
Air suspension smooths out the rougher road surfaces and there are drive modes called Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Individual, Off Road and All Road to alter the reactions of the car. The last two settings are a hint to the Q7's off-road ability. With quattro all-wheel drive, it can tow a trailer or caravan weighing up to 3.5 tonnes and any adverse driving conditions won't pose any problems either.
Motorway cruising is a breeze in the Q7 as it effortlessly eats up the miles on long journeys and, with sublime levels of comfort, all occupants will arrive feeling refreshed.
And that even means the two passengers in row three. These two seats are power-operated and can be raised or lowered flat to the boot floor in a matter of seconds.
Three adults can sit comfortably in row two and a couple more can fit in the back on shorter trips. But ideally these two rear seats are perfect for youngsters.
The boot, accessed via a powered tailgate, can swallow 740 litres of luggage, increasing to 1,925 litres with the split-folding seats in row two dropped flat. And there are lots of handy storage options scattered throughout the car, including a lockable glovebox, door bins with a bottle holder, front and rear cup holders, a shallow cubby box with wireless phone charging pad, and a compartment next to the driver's door.