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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
4.2 liters (254 cu. in.)
350 hp @ 6800 rpm
325 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
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
Emission Control System
Dual 3-way catalytic converters
w/individual oxygen sensors
Top speed is electronically limited
at 130 mph
Acceleration 0-100 km/h
Premium unleaded 91 RON / 95 RON
recommended for maximum performance
14 mpg l/100 km
19 mpg l/100 km
16 mpg l/100 km
6-speed Tiptronic® transmission
Front double wishbone independent
steel spring suspension Optional 4-Corner adjustable air
suspension with five suspension settings
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
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 with power assist