THE GRASS is always greener, or so the saying goes, and I was recently tempted to swap the keys of the Audi Q7 for a few days at the wheel of a bright-shiny new bauble from another renowned European brand.
It represented the car maker in question’s first foray into the automotive honeypot that is SUVs and, with the brand’s reputation forged in sports cars and performance saloons, my expectations were high.
However, after a week of enduring the leaden lump’s heavy steering, vast turning circle and lethargic diesel performance – all at a fully-optioned price tag that would have enabled me to park an S3 Sportback alongside the Q7 for similar money – I practically hugged the big Audi when the time came to reunite.
The incident reminded me that, a few months earlier, I’d run into a mate who’d purchased a Q7 and was eager to tell me how happy he was with his decision.
I was steering a Volvo XC90 diesel at the time, which said-friend had run the rule over during his due-diligence, but had chosen the Audi on the basis of its superior refinement.
I considered the XC90 a decently refined proposition, and thought him a bit harsh on what is arguably the Swedish marque’s most impressive product. But, having now spent decent wheel time in both seven-seaters, I have to concede he was spot-on.
It’s not so much that the XC90 is lacking in refinement; more that Audi has taken the whole noise-vibration-harshness business to another level, practically banishing unwanted diesel drone from the Q7’s cabin.
No doubt there’s plenty of noise-supressing cladding beneath the Q7’s handsome alloy skin, but at the heart of the matter is Audi’s remarkably responsive and free spinning turbo-diesel V6.
Hitched to a seamless eight-speed auto, this drivetrain combination ensures the Audi SUV is not just a refined and supremely relaxed tourer, but also an impressively engaging drive, with brisk off-the-mark acceleration and crisp throttle response.
Of course the Q7 isn’t exactly petite, so it’s understandable that it might seem an easy target for a spotty-faced P-plater in a rorty hatch seeking
to make his mark at the lights.
But drop the hammer and the usually relaxed V6 springs to life, pouring on its 200kW and 600Nm in a relentless wave that surprises and delights as it propels
the 2135kg wagon to a hot-hatch bettering 6.5 second 0-100km/h sprint.
Of course, all of this good drivetrain work might have been brought undone, had Audi’s chassis engineers bundied off and gone for an early bratwurst and pils.
Fortunately, they’ve also aimed up, with the result that the Q7 also tackles corners with a sure-footed fluidity that makes it a pleasure to drive.
All of which explains why the Q7 and I have renewed our vows, and I’ve promised never to stray again.