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2007Audi Q7
A New, Sophisticated SUV

By Keith Burton

While it seems that almost every vehicle manufacturer has an SUV to show off on the showroom, that has not been the case for the German manufacturer Audi, but not anymore. A bit late to the table, Audi has produced a sleek and dramatically styled SUV packed with technology and it is now in Audi showrooms, though in limited numbers

Audi calls its SUV the Q7, and whether or not they will acknowledge this, the Q7 would feel right at home in the garage of James Bond's "Q," the guy that supplies Bond with all of his gee-whiz gadgets. We took delivery of a sleek silver Q7 4.2-liter "premium" model that came supplied with almost an unbelievable number of high-tech gadgets, including a neat voice-operated navigation and radio control system that would ask "pardon" if it failed to understand your commands.

Audi's designers chose wisely to look for styling that does not mimic the designs of other SUVs. A bold "new Audi" grill defines the front of the Q7 in a way that some observers described as locomotive-like, or intimidating. The grill is similar to what Audi has on their smaller vehicles, but on the Q7 it is massive and imposing. The rest of the vehicle follows more a station-wagon styling but with much more flair. It is also a very wide vehicle and has a real presence on the road that draws stares from onlookers.

The Q7 draws many of its underpinnings from the excellent Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne, but it looks like neither of its siblings. Frankly, to this editorial eye, the Audi Q7 has the best body of the three.

Inside the Q7 is all luxury and open space. The roof is practically all glass. A huge sunroof, which is optional, extends from the front to the rear. The front section above the driver's seat is very large and it moves up and over the section above the rear passenger seats, which does not open. However, at the rear of the cabin, above the third row seats, the glass roof there opens with a tilt. A huge electrically-motored sun screen keeps the interior from baking when the sun is too much for the air conditioner.

Also unlike the Touareg and Cayenne, the Audi Q7 does without a regular four wheel drive system, but uses Audi's excellent Quattro all-wheel-drive. But as a result, you don't get a low range for serious offroading. Still, this is not a vehicle for the trails of the Rubicon. Instead, the Q7 is all about road performance, regardless of conditions, such as heavy rain and deep snow.

You do get the electronically controlled air spring suspension found on the Touareg. This system can raise and lower the ride height, either by command, or automatically, depending on the setting on the center console control.

Speaking of controls, the Q7 is packed with dials and buttons that do take a little time to figure out. But it is now where near as complicated as the system used on BMWs.

The 2007 Audi Q7 line features two engines and two trim levels. Both the 3.6 and 4.2 models are available in regular and Premium trim. All Q7s come with six-speed Tiptronic automatic transmissions and quattro all-wheel drive and all versions are pretty well equipped. But the premium versions of both engine sizes packs the Q7 with features. The smooth 4.2-liter V8  produces 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The 3.6 liter V6 delivers 280 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque.

With the powerful V8, the Q7 performs on the road much like Audi cars. It has effortless acceleration and can easily outpower lesser SUVs on the highway. Passing is a no brainer, even at high speeds. In fact, the Q7's ride is much better that either the Toureg or Cayenne. But while it has excellent steering and braking feel, you are aware that the Audi is a heavy vehicle, but one that is well controlled. I would not call it light on its feet. Top speed is electronically limited at 130 mph. Zero to 60 comes up in a respectable 7.1 seconds

For those of you that are concerned about fuel mileage with an expensive vehicle like this, the EPA rates the Q7 4.3 at 14 city, 19 highway. This is actually very good for a vehicle of this weight and power. We routinely saw around 17 mph in a combination hwy and city driving, and an admittedly heavy foot. The Q7 is fun to drive and it encourages a somewhat aggressive driving style.

As in the Touareg and Cayenne, the Audi Q7 is a technically advanced and sophisticated vehicle. It is definitely one that requires expert maintenance, which could be a problem for purchasers who need service and don't have a dealership nearby.

But fit and finish are excellent throughout the vehicle. Materials used in the interior look well-crafted and durable. The front seats are excellent, and back seats okay. But the third row seats are just for kids. One nice feature is that the air suspension has a special loading setting that lowers the rear of the Q7.

Another great feature is the high style of the interior and dash, especially at night. A sea of lights surround the driver and passenger in front. The center console is especially attractive at night. Red, blue and white lights make you feel like you are driving an advanced fighter. The instrument cluster is very clear and you a lot of information from a multicolor display set between the tachometer and speedometer.

We also like the nifty way the center console display screen changes between radio, A/C and navigation screens. The system menu is somewhat intuitive. It is controlled by a rotating knob on the center console surround by push buttons. You passenger in front will like the additional radio volume control on the center console nearest to the passenger seat. You can, of course, over rule him/her with the steering wheel controls.

Overall, the Audi Q7 stacks up as a very attractive and sporty SUV with styling and features at the top of its class. It isn't cheap though. The base (but very well equipped 3.6 liter starts around $49,000. Our tester was loaded and was just under $65,000. So, you have some choices in this premium SUV. It obviously competes against Mercedes, Lexus and Range Rover, as well as the top versions from Cadillac and Lincoln. But for folks that want SUV size and road capability, and want to stand out, the Audi Q7 really makes a good choice.

Engine
  Engine-type Aluminum, 90 degree V8 with variable intake manifold, continuous camshaft adjustment, DOHC, and FSI® Direct Injection technology
Arrangement: Front mounted, longitudinal
  • Bore: 3.33 in.
     
  • Stroke: 3.65 in.
     
  • Compression ratio: 12.5:1
  Displacement 4.2 liters (254 cu. in.)
  Max Output 350 hp @ 6800 rpm
  Torque 325 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
  Engine Management Fully electronic engine management utilizing Bosch Motronic® 9.1.1., sequential, direct injection with adaptive idle-charge control, acceleration enrichment, overrun fuel cut-off, adaptive lambda control, mapped ignition with solid-state high-voltage distribution via single spark coils, cylinder selective adaptive knock control with four sensors
  Emission Control System Dual 3-way catalytic converters w/individual oxygen sensors
  Driving Performance
  Topspeed Top speed is electronically limited at 130 mph
  Acceleration 0-100 km/h 7.1 Seconds
  Fueltype Premium unleaded 91 RON / 95 RON recommended for maximum performance
  Consumption (Urban) 14 mpg l/100 km
  Consumption (Extra-urban) 19 mpg l/100 km
  Consumption (Combined) 16 mpg l/100 km
  Power Transmission
  Gearbox 6-speed Tiptronic® transmission
  Steering
  Frontaxle Front double wishbone independent steel spring suspension Optional 4-Corner adjustable air suspension with five suspension settings
  Rearaxle Rear four link independent steel spring suspension. Optional 4-Corner adjustable air suspension with five suspension settings, additional mode to lower rear axle for loading the trunk
  Brakes Dual circuit brake system with diagonal split, Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake pressure Distribution (EBD) and Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP); tandem brake booster
  Steering Maintenance-free rack-and-pinion steering with power assist

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