AUDI Q7, PREMIUM LUXURY SUV LIKE NO OTHER
The Audi Q7 is a big car in many respects. As well as its physical size, it also has a big heart, which is about to get even bigger, but more of that later. This was evident at the Stallion Motors' Autoline Valentine Motor Show in Lagos, where the premium luxury SUV was recently exhibited alongside its siblings, and got many mouths gaping in awe..
For now, the largest engine available is the 4.2 V8, which comes in both petrol (FSI) and diesel (TDI) versions. The TDI is a recent addition to the existing 3.0 TDI, 3.6 FSI V6 units and the 4.2 FSI. The 4.2 TDI boasts twin turbochargers – one for each bank of cylinders- and two intercooler's, all helping to achieve a power output of 326PS at 3,750rpm and a massive amount of torque – 760Nm between 1,800- and 2,500rpm. It is this amazing pulling power that makes the Q7 such an exhilarating drive and gives the car the status of being the most powerful, diesel-engined SUV, that money can buy, according to Audi.
That will remain the case until the mighty but mad, 6.0-litre, V12 unit comes aboard. Developed from the V12 unit used in the Audi R10 TDI, which was the first diesel-powered car to win Le Mans. With these credentials, you would expect it to be something special and the crazy figures are testament to this – 500PS at 4,000rpm and an incomprehensible, 1,000Nm from 1,750- to 3,000rpm! The 0-62mph time for the V12 is just 5.5seconds and the top speed is limited to 155mph.
But that's in the near future. For now the 4.2 TDI is top of the Q7 tree, with a sprint time of 6.4 seconds, which is faster than the Honda Civic Type R and the Ford Focus ST-500 and ridiculously quick for a car of this size, and the top speed is 146mph. All Q7s have adaptive air suspension as standard. This works in conjunction with an electronically-controlled, damping system. Under normal driving conditions, there are three different settings, selected via the Multi Media Interface (MMI). The 'comfort' setting is great for motorway driving but is far too soft for minor roads.
The 'Automatic setting provides the best possible performance and stability in changeable situations. With both of these settings, the ride-height remains at the normal 180mm ground clearance up to 75mph. After more than 30 seconds at that speed, the body lowers to 165mm and, if 100mph is maintained for more than 20 seconds, the air suspension system lowers the car a further 15mm for improved stability and aerodynamics.
The dynamic setting lowers the body by 15mm from the outset and stiffens everything up for playtime on country lanes and twisting roads. There is also a built-in dynamic roll stabilisation system, included within the air suspension, which is designed to counteract body roll on fast bends. Off-roading requires a certain amount of slipping and sliding, especially on gravel, mud or sand. So, the ESP system (incorporating ABS, EBD and Brake Assist, ASR traction control and Electronic Differential Lock), which is designed to prevent this happening on the road, has been reworked to tolerate a certain amount of 'slip' for extra traction. There is also an assist function for steep, downhill trekking, a roll-over stabilisation program and even a safe-towing feature.
Back on dry land, so to speak, the fuel consumption figures for the 4.2TDI, Q7 are 18.9mpg, 31.7mpg and 25.4mpg for the urban, extra-urban and combined cycles, while CO2 emissions are a hefty 294g/km.
The Q7 is certainly distinctive. The enormous front grille is flanked by large air intakes, each topped by a thin strip of running lights. Strong design lines flow from the front across the bonnet to the A-pillars and along the side of the car at shoulder-height. Because the glazed area is narrower than the heavy metal sides, it has the effect of making the car look sleek from the side but rom the front, it just looks menacing.
All Q7s have seven seats, as standard, anything else (from four to six seats) is an option. Optionally, the second row of three seats can be replaced by two 'comfort' seats, offering extra leg and shoulder room – not that it is needed. The rearmost seats can be removed at no extra cost but it is easier to simply fold them flat into the load floor, at the same time increasing the luggage capacity from 330-litres to 775-litres.