Audi’s busy 2020 calendar year of car releases kicked off with a mid-life refresh of its Q7 large SUV, bringing one of its most-loved models back into the limelight.
The facelift and specification changes certainly looked impressive but we decided to investigate just how well the changes translate to the real world.
What is the Audi Q7?
The seven-seat Audi Q7 is the largest car the German automaker sells – both in terms of body size and seating capacity.
It competes in the premium large SUV segment along with the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Lexus RX and Volvo XC90 and pricing begins at $101,900 (before on-road costs) for the car we have on test, the Q7 45 TDI.
That is an increase over the pre-facelift car, though Audi has included some extra equipment as standard and turned the wick up on the engine too.
The Q7 45 TDI has a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel engine that delivers 170kW/500Nm to all four wheels using Audi’s all-wheel-drive system. Costlier cars in the range use the same engine in a higher state of tune.
In terms of kit, each and every Q7 including this one is equipped with 19-inch wheels, adaptive air suspension, seven seats with powered folding rear row, power tailgate, adaptive cruise control, Audi Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster, keyless entry and start, wireless phone charging and smartphone mirroring, 360-degree parking cameras and three-zone climate control as standard.
In addition to that, they all get a huge number of driving aids and safety features for added peace of mind, which help it score a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Read next: 2019 Audi Q8: five things you should know
What is the Audi Q7 like to drive?
The Audi Q7 has always been a pleasure to drive, and that hasn’t suddenly changed with this mid-life refresh car. There’s new driving tech to help guide you along and a tuned-up engine is always welcome.
Buyers faced with purchasing an Audi Q7 might be curious whether they should go for the 45 TDI or 50 TDI. You needn’t worry about ‘underdoing it’ by going for the base 45 TDI variant – the performance on tap is immense and certainly never left us wanting for more oomph.
Especially impressive considering its 2240kg heft is the ease with which you can navigate around streets. Steering feel hits the nice mid-point between light and feelsome, and the driving position is high, cosy and comfortable.
Read the launch review: Audi Q7 2020 review
Visibility around town is generally good for a seven-seater, but it is handy having the 360-degree parking camera, especially in tighter streets and while reverse parking.
While the Q7 didn’t venture off the blacktop this time around, we did get out for a tour towards Victoria’s Yarra Valley which it handled superbly.
It’s supremely comfortable on the motorway, and even when turning off onto rougher roads the Q7 deals with imperfections and larger bumps smoothly.
Tighter, twistier bends can cause it to feel slightly cumbersome, but even then the experience never becomes worrying or uncomfortable – just as though it’s out of its comfort zone.
Over our test period, the Q7 45 TDI returned a 9.0L/100km fuel economy reading, against its claim of 7.0L/100km on the combined cycle. That's pretty good going for a 2.2-tonne seven-seater!
What is the Audi Q7 like to live with?
Let’s get real: there are not many more types of cars out there that are easier to live with than large premium SUVs. It’s super easy to slide into, simple to pack, spacious enough for an entire family and features all the niceties that make you feel a bit special.
Commands are easily dispatched on the new 10.1- and 8.6-inch dual-screen infotainment system and pair well with the huge 12.3-inch Virtual cockpit digital instrument cluster.
The at-a-glance map view was a handy favourite. Wireless phone charging and wireless Apple CarPlay made connectivity delightfully simple too.
The second row contains acres of head, leg and foot room, and you can recline the seats back for additional lazing too. Space in the third row isn’t so generous, and should only be used for the smallest of children.
Additionally, it isn’t the easiest space to get into. You have to use two separate levers to fold the second row forward, then press the button and watch the seats slowly rise up. Surely a one-touch system exists in 2020 – we have the technology.
Cargo space is a massive 770 litres with the third row stowed away.
While the Q7 45 TDI interior is perfectly functional and comfortable, it could use a spruce up in terms of ambience. Everything is nicely designed and built well, but it can feel a little austere in comparison to its rivals.
The car we had on test featured almost no other options than metallic $2300 Florett Silver paint, and it’s in this regard that we’d pay particular attention to what kind of options you could tick.
Adding a panoramic sunroof, the Premium Plus pack with ambient lighting and upgraded sound system, and some nice inlays would help the cabin feel that much nicer.
The Q7 range begins more expensive than some of its competition but at the same time, few rivals can match its standard spec level and powerful engine at the entry level.
It’s worth noting too that the Q7 is one of the few options in its segment that offers a seven-seat layout as standard.
Read next: Battle of the German behemoth SUVs
Even from that base 45 TDI spec, the Q7 is entirely comfortable and super well-equipped for its $101,900 price.
Its three-year unlimited-kilometre warranty is slightly disappointing, though most other manufacturers in the segment offer the same (apart from Mercedes-Benz’s five-year deal).
During the week on test we had the chance to step into the Q7 50 TDI which didn’t feel appreciably better in any one area. It’s worth grabbing the entry-level 45 TDI car in this scenario and speccing it up how you see fit.
Pros: Strong base engine, technologically advanced interior, high level of standard equipment
Cons: Drab looking interior, tight third row