Test driving the Audi Q7 45 TDI
Transformed in its second generation from a bulky-looking premium seven-seater to a sharper, more modern all-roader, the new Audi Q7 elevates the experience of refined luxury mobility
Fundamentally, when the roots are the same, which includes signature elements retained along with the character and size, it's hard to believe that there's something all-new, only told apart by the exterior.
The Q7 is the car that single-handedly turned Audi’s fortunes in India. It’s the size, the feel and the presence that made many folks — urban and rural — reach for their chequebooks to give this new brand a chance. That was a long time ago.
So what of the all-new car? The new big Q gets a more pronounced chrome grille, with headlamp anchors. The headlamps themselves are all-LED. The chiselled lines make it look like a larger A7 allroader, but it's just as large as the old Q7, with a slight easing-off of the curves effectively hiding its mammoth proportions. The roof-rails and LED tail-lamps with twin rectangular exhaust ends add to the edgier look.
The chiselled lines of the Audi Q7 45 TDI, make it look like a larger A7 allroader, but it's just as large as the old Q7. PICS/SANJAY RAIKAR AND ADITYA DHIWAR
The big doors are the first giveaway to the proportions on the inside. To say they are generous would be an understatement. The large panoramic sunroof also adds to that experience. The windscreen is huge and heat-insulated. Cabin temperature is kept in check with the four-zone automatic climate control system.
The dash is an expanse of dark brown leather, aluminium and wood trim accents and a light beige interior — there are other options available. The front seats are plush and comfortable for long journeys, although dynamic driving will have you wishing for better side support. One of the main features is the large digital info-console that doubles up as the instrumentation. The tacho on the left, the speedo on the right and everything from vehicle information to navigation data appear in the centre. There’s also a large 8.3-inch monitor for the MMI Touch, not to mention the 360-degree camera with front and rear modes.
Our car was equipped with the 558-Watt Bose 3D Sound System with 19 speakers; enough for most, even the kids in the third row. Speaking of which, the Q7 is a fairly good seven-seater. The second row has three individually-sliding seats, although the middle seat and the two third-row seats are best suited for children. The one-touch individual buttons for the powered third row are a very useful touch. The 770-litre boot volume can be accessed by removing the full-size spare and folding down the third row.The Q7, in its essential guise, sheds as much as 325 kg. The 45 TDI here is the V6, albeit with 249 PS. Dimensionally, it’s shrunk too, but little has changed: it is 37mm shorter, 15mm narrower, with the height and ground clearance changing with the active \air suspension.
The dash is an expanse of dark brown leather, aluminium and wood trim accents and a light beige interior
The V6 is an updated 3.0-litre TDI unit which, in India, makes 249 PS and 600 Nm. The peak power band is now from 2,910 to 4,500 RPM, with torque peaking from 1,500 RPM.
Audi’s drive select gives five modes to choose from: ‘Comfort’ is plush and relaxed; ‘Dynamic’ is stiff and sharp, with the car sinking down to 165 mm, aiding handling; ‘Individual’ lets you mix and match; while the new ‘Allroad’ mode with additional ‘Off-road Lift’ mode raises the car up to 240mm. We did get to explore a hill thanks to this mode, and the Q7 performed admirably, even letting us try out its Hill Descent Control on the way down. But, the beauty of the Q7 is that its all-round capability comes from its all-road ability.
On the highway, it was Dynamic mode all the way. Stiffened up and set to munch miles, the Q7 dismissed 100 km/h in less than eight seconds. On the go, it feels planted, and there’s little or no body-roll. The 255/55 Rs 19 Pirellis grip well, and, together with the air suspension, offer good ride quality too. The sound-deadening is where it scores well; cabin noise levels are extremely low, comparable to many noted luxury saloons. The V6 gathers steam as the revs build and you go up the gears. It’s particularly quick at highway speeds and overtaking acceleration is excellent.
Pouring rain greeted us soon and its wet-weather ability became evident. Foot-deep puddles and standing water were splashed out of the way and the LED headlights pierce through. Given the space, they also increase lighting range post 110 km/h. Another bit which stands out is the dynamic parking brake that engages when you come to a standstill and releases when the accelerator is touched: very useful at red lights and in traffic jams.
Fuel efficiency figure are nine km/l in the city and 13 on the highway; that's 10 overall. Of course, the new Q7 gives potential SUV buyers reason for a massive rethink. It’s new, it’s fresh and has dollops of style, but, more importantly, it has something the competition doesn’t: reputation. That is something that doesn’t come easy. Will it be the new king of the hill? With a tag starting from R72 lakh, it could be.