IT HAS TO BE Q - Audi Q7

Independent Car Review - overall score 78/100

Performance 8
Handling 7
Comfort 9
Space 9
Styling 8
Build 8
Value 7
Equipment 8
Economy 8
Depreciation 7
Insurance 7
Total 78

June Neary tries the Audi Q7

Will It Suit Me?

I have to be frank and say that I'm not in the market for a large, 7-seat luxury SUV. If I was however, this one would be well up on my list, Audi's Q7.

The weather was foul - very wet and windy - during the time of my test, but that's just what you need with a car like this. The solid feel, the high driving position and the reassurance of four wheel drive all contribute to a welcome feeling on invulnerability. All of this allied to Audi build quality is a recipe that I could see myself finding it hard to resist.

Practicalities

Being head, shoulders and torso above the rest of the traffic made me feel confident behind the wheel of such a heavy vehicle. Though lighter than before in second generation form, the Q7 still weighs about the same as a baby elephant, so you feel confident that whatever you hit, it will come off worse. Well bolstered high-set seats ensure comfort on a longer journey and a great view of the road.

Seven seats is the standard interior configuration for the Q7. Set-up in this way, the seating provides copious amounts of space for the front and middle row occupants but the rear seating is suitable only for small children or adults on short journeys. With all seven seats occupied, you get 295-litres of boot space. In five-seat mode there's even more space than in the old model; fully 890-litres to the tonneau cover.

That enormous size means that the Q7 isn't the most nimble rock hopper, but it does feature reasonable ground clearance, hill descent assist and an off-road mode whereby the ESP stability control system backs off to allow for loose surfaces. There's also a trailer stabilisation system which reduces the risk of fishtailing via targeted brake intervention.

Behind the Wheel

Driving through the ford we ventured into during my test was, of course, a piece of cake. While saloon cars hesitated at the 2-foot 'river' looking for a dinghy, we ploughed through, leaving a wake any Riva sports boat would be proud of.

Engine-wise, most customers choose one of the efficient turbocharged 3.0-litre TDI units, these developing either 218 or 272PS. The alternative is an etron plug-in hybrid version that mates an electric motor with a petrol TFSI V6. Or a flagship SQ7 model that uses a 4.0-litre V8 TDI diesel. The Q7 handles very well on the tarmac with the weighty steering doing much to inspire confidence and no small amount of composure in corners considering the vehicle's formidable bulk. In fact, it's easy to forget you're piloting something quite so large until you glance in the rear view mirror and see the expanse of seating stretching out behind you.

This car is of course equipped as standard with quattro permanent four-wheel drive. Its Torsen centre differential directs power to all four wheels, on-road and off-road, which means fast-reacting power to whichever wheel can best deploy it and excellent lateral stability - the prerequisites for optimum driving dynamics and safety. The driver benefits - also thanks to virtually balanced axle load distribution - from even better agility and steering precision that remains practically free of torque steer. That's that horrible feeling you get in some cars when the steering wheel writhes in your hands under heavy acceleration.

Value For Money

You'll want a decent specification from a luxury SUV requiring a £50,000 budget - and this Q7 doesn't disappoint. Included as standard is a fully revised two-zone air conditioning system. The operating concept uses fewer buttons and controls. Animated symbols in the display, the TFT display and the capacitive toggle switches allow intuitive operation of the air conditioning.

Could I Live With One?

So could I live with one? One thing's for sure, everyone gets out of your way when you're in a Q7. To have exclusive use of the roads is certainly a prospect I could live with. To have a vehicle fit for the jungle isn't especially necessary for a city dweller like me though. That said, this Audi in its own way offers an exciting driving experience that I became quite attached to as my test drew to a close.

We currently have 2 used Audi Q7 Cars