The dream package
Big SUV’s attract quite a bit of criticism for their size and price, usually flavoured with a faint undercurrent of jealousy. No other car represents wasteful extravagance better than a giant and powerful 4×4, especially if the rolling palace only has one occupant.
We could argue over the political (and environmental) correctness of such cars for ages but I’d like you to consider this. If you had the money and if you had the need for a big luxury SUV, wouldn’t you buy one? I would – without thinking about it – the difficult part would be choosing which one.
Your choice may come down to brand loyalty, looks, performance and/or versatility. Some offer seven seats, others lure punters with beefy power and all of them are packed with a bevy of entertaining toys. The Audi Q7, much like its other European rivals, attempts to deliver all of those in one neat package.
The Ingolstadt car carries clean and relatively simple lines, its elegant proportions doing their best to disguise its sizable bulk. Parking the Q7 at your local supermarket will fully drive home how big this SUV is but parking sensors will remove most of the manoeuvre’s stress.
Interior space is more than generous and even allows for a huge boot or two extra, collapsible seats. During our test period we noted a very solid build, high quality materials, easy controls, comfortable and supportive seats, plus exceptional ride and noise levels.
Teamed with the Q7’s smooth steering and gearbox, the Audi does a sterling job of giving you that high 4×4 driving position but without the shudders and shakes that used to accompany big off-roaders. All my passengers commended the suspension and reasonably little body roll, on or off tarmac.
Audi’s Quattro four-wheel-drive system calls on 60/40 asymmetric torque distribution and a self-locking centre differential to allow mild off-roading; the ESP stability management with off-road mode cutting power when wheel spin is detected. A bit of sand and mud didn’t stop our Q7 but we eventually did, because of the car’s price.
If you want to carve your own road through African jungle, this isn’t the ideal car. But if you (and passengers) want to explore the countryside in style in comfort, the Q7 will do very nicely. The ABS brakes are outstanding and also feature brake assist, electronic force distribution and anti-skid regulation.
Further safety equipment includes eight airbags, light and rain sensors, luggage cover, double sun visors, alarm/immobiliser, remote central locking and ISOFIX anchors. Other luxuries are adjustable multi-function steering wheel, climate and cruise control, 6-disc CD shuttle, power windows and power (heated & retractable) exterior mirrors.
But wait – yes, you guessed it – there’s more. Way more. Highlights include a DSP sound system, ambient and exit lighting, leather trim (with beautiful suede leather, wood and metal inserts in the door pockets), as well as the intuitive MMI infotainment system with a crisp 7-inch screen.
The instruments are just as delicate and split by a superb on-board computer which displays up to five levels of information. Part of these were the efforts of our test car’s engine, Audi’s 3-litre turbo-Diesel V6 which provides up to 176kW (239hp) or 550Nm while claiming averages of 7.4L/100km or 195g CO2/km.
Power delivery through the 8-speed automatic gearbox is silky smooth with a pleasing V6 growl and while our consumption hovered around 12L/100km in town, it will instantly plummet when the Q7 sniffs the open road. 0-100km/h takes 7.9 seconds (we recorded 8.4) and top speed is 215km/h.
As mentioned, the Q7 belies its size and is quite nimble on its big feet. Sporting intentions are supported by shift paddles and the gearbox Sport mode. A selectable start/stop system attempts to bring down fuel consumption, as does the combination of eight gears and that mountain of low-rev torque.
The Q7 range starts with this 3.0TDi at N$692,000, the 4.2 V8 TDi costs N$854,500 while the petrol 3.0 V6 TFSi retails for N$728,000. All Audis are sold with a one year warranty and five-year/100,000km Freeway Plan. Also, like all Audis, the Q7 options list is as long as it is expensive.
Tempting your extra cash are, among others, premium speakers, bigger wheels, S Line goodies, upgraded lights, better seating, adaptive cruise control, rear A/C, sunroof, lane assist, rear camera, keyless motoring, electric towbar and tailgate, adaptive air suspension, navigation, TV, rear entertainment or Bluetooth.
You could spend an insane amount of money on the abovementioned toys but the advantage is that the Q7’s competitive pricing means you can purchase one of the best luxury SUV’s and, if you like, accessorise it to become your dream SUV.
0-100m: 6.3s / 85.8km/h
0-200m: 9.8s / 110.6km/h
0-300m: 12.8s / 124.3km/h
0-400m: 15.5s / 135.5km/h
1/4mile: 15.6s @ 84.3mph (135.7km/h)
Climate Cold, rainy
Road Wet tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, two passengers
Fuel level 1/4