Review of: 2017 Audi Q7 quattro 4dr 3.0T Progressiv
2017 Audi Q7: Nth degrees of automation
By G. R. Whale
Aug. 15, 2016
Nine years in, the second-generation Q7 is lighter, trimmer, and fancier—all emphasis on “er”— marrying a Bentley platform, German engineering and Silicon Valley code. Call it an A6 wagon, spoiled parent transport, trendsetting, or a 21st-century shoe phone for Agent 86.
Pros & Cons
- + Ride comfort
- + Endlessly adjustable
- + Much lighter than before
- - Shift lever
- - Lazy auto start/stop system
- - Touchy safety systems
If it didn’t have wheels this less-ovoid Q7 could have been styled by a layer-cake-maker. Almost every carving and crease is straight and starched, hewing to staunchly-horizontal Volkswagen more than curves-and-bulges Bentley. Any intended nod to quattro heritage was universally overlooked.
It is shorter, narrower, appearing wagon-proportioned. Large back doors are countered by moderate rear overhang, and the big wheels would look right at home on a 4WD pickup.
As you’d expect, lights feature prominently. Crisp, angular, almost angry—Audi’s answer to Thor’s Hammers on the XC90. And up this high the signals bounced off a reflective sign nearly a kilometre away. Remember that as you blind those behind at a stoplight.
If not striking, the cabin’s certainly elegant, stylish and well crafted. Every surface has a pleasing feel, and the glossy materials across the broad console (wider than 28 cm at the trackpad) are easy on glare.
The sedan-like driving position reinforces the tall wagon notion, while visibility and ergonomics are fine. Four speaker grilles in the windshield pillars alone help audio such that the optional Bang & Olufsen’s value was debated. And it’s so well sealed I often needed two attempts to shut the door even with the moonroof vent open.
Front seats are quite comfortable, the middle row likewise by 35/30/35 standards. Third-row is kids-only and getting to it a real nuisance: I had to slide the middle row forward to fit some child seats and grade schoolers, so consider the seven-seat appellation optimistic if no more than two are adults.
Best cargo room is 1,955 litres, with 770 behind the second row and 295 aft of the third row. There’s a bin in the floor, but it’s stuffed with tire pump and sound equipment.
With a name like Technik, you bet there’s tech. To wit: Audi connect, wi-fi, and CarPlay/Android Auto to keep in touch; virtual cockpit for multiple, sharp display choices; trackpad superior to most laptops; automatic trailer parking in reverse (the “Dutch button,” to Germans); four-wheel steering to accompany all-wheel drive; and air suspension to match handling with drive mode, or lower the trailer hitch.
However, after lane-keeping moved me around within lanes with steering correction set to “late” (the disable switch is hidden behind the steering wheel), frequent red blinks for impending collision (forward warnings dialed back) and being stopped ignominiously 1.5 metres from any obstacle backing into my parking spot—perhaps by an errant bee…I had witnesses—I was still disabling things after five days.
Q7 feels more lithe and limber yet still rock solid, helped by diet and a centre of gravity 50 mm lower (the battery’s under the right front floor). Roll and pitch are tightly controlled, ride approaches Range Rover suppleness, it’s very quiet, everything is fluid and all manner of systems can be adjusted. It gets down a winding byway with genuinely surprising speed and agility — dare I say nimbly — burping tailpipes at shifts. But it didn’t inspire me to drive it that way, feeling more luxury cruiser than sport brute, and the tires didn’t like it.
Optional air suspension helps ride, clearance, bumps tow rating to 3,500 kg and pairs with four-wheel steering. Rear wheels turn up to five degrees inward for high-speed stability lest you’re prone to swerving from inattention, and U-turn space drops to 11.4 metres. Unless you spend your life towing or in drive-thru lines, the $4,000-cheaper coil spring suspension works just fine.
The sole engine’s a supercharged V6: 333 horses for highway passing, 325 lb-ft of torque for everything else. It’s sufficiently quick and smooth with a hint of character when pushed, the eight-speed automatic generally seamless, and all-wheel drive defaults 40 percent output front but can run from 70/30 (f/r) to 15/85. The auto start/stop is very smooth and very lethargic; I disabled it approaching a stop at any arterial or highway.
The inverted golf putter shifter frustrates me even more than playing golf.
Consumption ratings are 12.6/9.4 l/100km; I managed 15.2 in town, upper-8.0s highway, and average of 12.2. Did I mention the huge tires and the 2,300-kg bulk?
At $81,650 Q7 is neither loaded nor cheap, unless you consider brother Bentley an alternative; save $3,400 if you can drive unassisted. Surprisingly, the Q7 is thousands less than a comparable X5 35i, GL 450, Range Rover Sport or Volvo XC90.
The Q7’s whiz-bang gadgets will awe your twelve-year-old, it bests any Lexus seven-seater for a quiet, soothing demeanour, and the engineering ensures your Cayenne-driving neighbour knows they overpaid for the wrong car…but they’ll never admit it.