2017 Audi Q7 Review

2017 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro

Priced From $91,500Information

Overall Rating

0

4.5 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

4 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

5 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

4 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

5 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProLuxuriously trimmed seven-seat cabin; fine ride; excellent engines.

  2. ConNo petrol engine; needs a big parking space.

  3. The Pick: 2016 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro 4D Wagon

What stands out?

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The Audi Q7 is a powerful large SUV that seats seven in a luxuriously equipped, roomy cabin. It rides and steers very nicely, and is thrifty with fuel. Auto braking is standard, and a broad and innovative suite of driver aids is available.

What might bug me?

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Getting dirty when refuelling. Spilt diesel fuel is oily enough to stick to the soles of your shoes, or stain your clothes. Some people like to wear gloves when handling diesel pump nozzles. There is no petrol-fuelled A7. How bulky it feels in the city. The Q7 is a heavy vehicle and it needs a big parking space. The prospect of calling for help just because you have punctured a tyre. The Q7 does not carry a spare – it has only a latex-based repair and inflation kit. Even if you have learned how to use the kit, it will work only if the puncture is small. Concerns over Audi’s connection with Volkswagen Group’s Dieselgate scandal of September 2015, when the group admitted that millions of its diesel engines – including those fitted to some Audis – had been able to cheat in emissions tests. Audi says diesels in all current models comply with emissions rules.

What body styles are there?

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Just the one, a five-door SUV-style wagon. This is the second-generation Q7. It is slightly shorter than the Q7 it replaces, and lighter. The Q7 drives all four wheels, and is classed as a large SUV, higher priced.

What features do all versions have?

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Satellite navigation, displayed on an 8.3-inch retractable monitor. A 10GB hard drive for storing music and other media. Digital radio (which sounds better than AM and FM), and Bluetooth connectivity for phone calls and audio streaming. A reversing camera, and front and rear parking sensors. Convenience key entry, which allows you to unlock the car and drive away without removing the key from your pocket or bag. A power-opening tailgate, which can be foot-operated from a sensor below it (or operated from the driver’s seat). A seven-seat interior, trimmed in leather. Power adjustment for the front seats and exterior mirrors (with a memory for the driver’s seat, so that you can touch a single button to restore your preferred set-up). Cruise control, headlamps that switch on automatically in low light, and windscreen wipers that operate automatically when it rains. Dual-zone climate control (which allows different temperatures on either side of the cabin). Aluminium alloy wheels of 19 inches diameter, and a puncture repair kit. A tyre pressure monitor, which warns you if a tyre is going flat. City-speed automatic emergency braking, which Audi calls Pre-sense city. Other standard active safety equipment includes a blind-spot warning and a rear cross-traffic alert. Electronic stability control, which can help the driver control a skidding car. All new cars must have this feature. Eight Airbags. (For details of where they are placed, and for more on Q7 safety systems, please open the Safety section below). All Q7s are covered by a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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Two engines are offered in a Q7, both 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesels. The more fuel-efficient of the two comes with the Q7 3.0 TDI quattro 160kW, which is also the less costly Q7. It consumes 5.8 litres/100km on the official test (city and country combined) – an impressively low figure for a car this big that goes this hard. The main reason you might not choose this powerful diesel is that you want a bit more grunt for towing or overtaking and you are happy to pay for it. The other engine, which comes in the Q7 3.0 TDI quattro 200kW, has been retuned to supply about 20 per cent more thrust in most driving conditions. And it uses only marginally more fuel. In the real world, both Q7s use more fuel than they do on the test – but they are still quite thrifty. Expect to average about 8 litres/100km with either – your fuel use will vary with how and where you use the car.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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The less costly Q7 – the 3.0 TDI quattro 160kW – comes with the features common to both Q7s and the less powerful of the two engines. Pay more for the Q7 3.0 TDI quattro 200kW, and apart from the added performance the most immediately obvious difference is in the leather used to trim the cabin. Audi calls it Cricket leather, and it is perforated and feels nicer than the leather in the 160kW. The other major change is in the instrument panel. In the 200kW, the less costly car’s traditional and beautiful twin dials are replaced with a high-resolution, 12.3-inch LCD colour screen, which you can customise to display just the information you want. The display can be switched between a Classic view, with prominent speedometer and rev counter, and an Infotainment view, which brings functions such as navigation or media to the fore. You can change the view by pressing a button on the steering wheel. The reversing camera is enhanced with a 360-degree view, which for example can help you avoid striking the wheels against kerbs when parking. Finally, the Q7 200kW has all its lower extremities finished in the body colour, while the 160kW leaves these as unpainted back plastic. As usual with Audi there is a big range of options available at extra cost. Among them are bigger wheels (up to 21-inch diameter), air suspension with adaptive dampers (which adjust the ride automatically for the conditions), better sound systems, a head-up instrument display, and front seats with heating, ventilation or a sports contour with extra side-bolstering. Also optional at extra cost is an Assistance package that brings you several active driving aids. It includes Active cruise control (which can maintain a safe distance from the car in front on the highway, and can also hold your position automatically in stop-start traffic) and Traffic jam assist (which can steer the car automatically in stop-start traffic). The camera-and-radar based package also adds highway-speed auto emergency braking.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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Optioning either 20-inch or 21-inch wheels makes the ride more reactive to rough surfaces, for the lower profile tyres that go with them do not absorb bumps as well as the standard 19-inch wheel and tyre combination. The bigger wheels and tyres are also more susceptible to damage from rocks when driving off sealed surfaces, and the tyres will cost more to replace.

How comfortable is it?

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The commanding driving position, excellent adjustability of seat and steering wheel, abundant space, and premium cabin finishes, immediately make any Q7 feel welcoming and very comfortable. On the move, the Q7’s ride comfort – its ability to isolate you from poor road surfaces – is very good on the standard steel-sprung suspension and outstanding if the optional air suspension is fitted. The steering is light but direct, making the Q7 easy to manoeuvre in tight conditions for a car of its size. The standard seats provide a good level of comfort and support. However the optional sports seats provide even greater support and location for occupants in the front, especially in more dynamic driving. The highest level of comfort comes with what Audi calls Individual contour seats, which have heating, ventilation, and a massage function. In all other respects, the Q7 is extremely comfortable. Wind noise is very well suppressed, and tyre noise at highway speeds is not intrusive. The diesel engines are exceptionally smooth and quiet.

What about safety?

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The Audi Q7 delivers a very strong standard safety story, and there’s an array of optional safety equipment. Both models are equipped with eight airbags: frontal and chest-protecting side airbags for the driver and front passenger; chest-protecting side airbags for outer passengers in the second row of seats; and head-protecting side-curtain airbags for those in all three rows of seats. A standard city-speed automatic emergency braking system (Pre-sense city) monitors the road ahead and will initiate a full emergency stop automatically if it concludes a collision is imminent (typically with another car that has slowed suddenly, but also with a pedestrian). The camera-based system is effective at speeds up to 85km/h. Also standard is a blind-spot alert (which warns of cars approaching from behind when you seek to change lanes), a rear cross-traffic alert (which warns of vehicles crossing behind when you are reversing), and an exit alert (which warns of a cyclist or other vehicle approaching from behind when you open a door). An Assistance package available at extra cost brings active cruise control and a twin-radar based highway-speed auto braking system that is available at all speeds (up to 250km/h). The Assistance package also includes a camera-based lane-keeping assistant, which jogs you if you have begun to drift dangerously into an adjacent lane on the highway. It vibrates the steering wheel, and also adjusts the steering slightly to help bring you back. Among other features of the Assistance package is Turn assist, which acts to prevent your turning right dangerously across oncoming traffic at an intersection. The Australasian New Car Assessment Program rated the Audi Q7 at five stars for safety, its maximum, in September 2015.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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You will. All Q7s turn into corners with authority and deliver generous grip, giving you plenty of confidence on country roads. The commanding driving position and light, direct steering help you position the Q7 accurately on the road and create the sense that the big car is shrinking around you. Either powertrain has ample urge for most drivers and conditions. As you would expect, the Q7 160kW does not feel quite as authoritative in overtaking moves at highway speed, or as effortless when fully loaded in hilly terrain, as the more powerful Q7 200kW. The Q7 is always going to be hamstrung by its weight and high centre of gravity when you need agility and responsiveness. It won’t reward you in the same way that a Audi sports sedan does. But there’s still driving enjoyment to be had. All-wheel drive helps the Q7 maintain traction on muddy, snowy or otherwise slippery sealed roads, on gravel roads, and on well-maintained tracks. The Q7 does not have the ground clearance, underbody protection or low-range gearing needed for properly rough off-roading, however. And if you get a flat tyre while off the beaten track, you have only the inflation kit to fall back on.

How is life in the rear seats?

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Very comfortable. Middle-row passengers enjoy generous leg room, useful grab handles and ample storage. Very effective ventilation outlets for second-row passengers provide ample airflow. However, temperature controls for these passengers (called four-zone climate control) are an extra-cost option, and one that does not bring dedicated ventilation outlets for passengers in the third row. Two 12V power outlets in the rear console let the kids keep phones and other devices charged over long trips. At extra cost, Audi also offers rear passengers two 9.2-inch high-resolution screens that are linked to a DVD drive, and that will connect with a games console, a USB drive, and headphones. Extra space can be made for those in the rearmost seats by sliding the middle row forward.

How is it for carrying stuff?

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Excellent. Luggage capacity is 770 litres with all seats in place. Fold the middle seats (they split 35/30/35 and lie almost flat) and the cargo space is enlarged to a vast 1955 litres. The height of the rear loading lip is 788mm, higher than that of a comparable car-based wagon. Many people prefer the greater height when loading bags and groceries. A foot-triggered, hands-free opener for the powered tailgate is standard on both Q7s. Legal towing capacity is massive at 3500kg if the trailer has its own brakes. Either Q7 will have no problem towing a jet-ski, a single-horse float or a camper trailer, and the rating permits much bigger loads such as a three-horse float or a large boat or caravan.

Where is it made?

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Both Q7s are built in Bratislava, Slovakia.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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Not much, unless you are unhappy to be refuelling with diesel. Alternative premium large SUVs such the Volvo XC90, Mercedes Benz GLE and BMW X5 offer petrol engines.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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If you regularly tour in hilly terrain with a full complement of passengers, or tow a trailer, then you’ll appreciate the more effortless performance of the Q7 200kW. For everyone else, the 160kW would be more than ample, and the saving may leave room to add desirable options such as the air suspension.

Are there plans to update this model soon?

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This second-generation Q7 was introduced late in 2015 as an all-new model, and it won’t be replaced with a new-generation car until at least 2022. Expect a facelift about 2019. A Q7 e-tron is expected about the middle of 2017. It will be a diesel-electric hybrid that you can charge from home powerpoints, and that will offer near-silent short trips on battery power with zero tailpipe emissions.