As a result, though there are still sportier choices in this segment, the whole car feels more agile and responsive than its predecessor, with permanent quattro all-wheel drive splitting power 60:40 front-to-rear and incorporating a torque control management system that helps you maximise traction through the curves. Further handling stability is possible if you opt for the extra cost all-wheel steering system.
Performance comes courtesy of a 3. 0-litre V6 TDI diesel engine that’s offered with 218PS or, as here, with 272PS. This unit’s also used mated to a 94KW electric motor in the plug-in hybrid ‘Q7 e-tron’ model. All variants get the ‘drive select’ driving dynamics system, a set-up also used to control the functionality of the optional Adaptive air suspension. This smoothes your tarmac progress and can allow greater ground clearance off road, an environment in which this Q7 can be reasonably capable. It’s also a refined cruiser and, with the optional ‘Towing pack’ fitted, an accomplished tower too.
The original version of this car was one of the most imposing shapes on our roads. This second generation version though, is a little more subtle in its sizing, with sharp shoulder lines and chromed lower side sill blades helping to disguise dimensions that, though still considerable, see this MK2 model being slightly shorter and narrower than before.
Most of the time though of course, you’ll probably be running the car with these third row chairs folded down, the retracting process operated electrically via these buttons which make the process so much easier than the back-breakingly fumbly manual machinations you have to go through in a rival Land Rover Discovery to achieve the same end result. Once that’s completed, there’s a lot of room to play with, 770-litres to be exact in standard models.
Otherwise, getting more room means folding the middle row. The backrest falls in a 35:30:35-split, so if you’ve a long item to push through - say a set of skis - you may merely need to flatten the centre section. Lower everything and as much as 1,955-litres of fresh air can be created in a standard variant.
Let’s take a seat at the wheel where, as expected, there’s one of the best interiors that Audi can offer, which makes this one amongst the very nicest it’s possible to find. You’re ensconced in a world of measured elegance, with beautiful ambient lighting, a luxurious blend of craftsmanship fused with technology and a wrap-around dash fashioned in a wide arc that spans the cabin, encircling the slim, sleek instrument panel. Its front, characterised in the passenger area by this distinctive air vent strip, isn’t joined to the centre console, a design approach offering a greater feeling of space.
The console itself is angled like a control stand, its right half being what Audi calls the ‘technical area’ dominated by a gorgeous aeronautical gear lever that makes you feel like you’re bringing a 747 in to land. Just ahead of it is the chromed switchgear for the further improved MMI infotainment system, a rotary controller and beyond that, a large touchpad with a scratch-resistant glass surface upon which commands can be traced with your fingertips.
The main display interface for the system is an 8. 3-inch high resolution screen that glides out of the top of the fascia every time the ignition is started, beautifully integrated into an overall dashboard design that no other premium brand can match.
Your middle row passengers will enjoy this kind of quality too of course and are well catered for in other ways.
Shoulder width has somehow actually been increased by 10mm in this MK2 model, plus there’s a 26mm increase in legroom too.
And buyers have the option of this huge panoramic glass roof that gives this part of the cabin a light, airy feel – something we think you’d really want in a seven-seat car.
Ah yes: the proper seven-seat functionality we mentioned earlier.
The seats now glide electrically out of the floor, while access to them is eased by outer second row seats that fold into a compact package and can be set upright, freeing up room for you to pass….
and get yourself into reasonably comfortable chairs that Audi says are suitable for children of up to 36kg or 5. 7-stone in weight. To be honest, a pew here as an adult wouldn’t be too objectionable on a short journey, provided those in the middle row were prepared to push their seats right forward.
This car can be up to 325kg lighter than its predecessor.
It’s all been made possible due to the introduction of the Volkswagen group’s sophisticated new generation MLB evo chassis.
Its use has been a key factor in a programme of weight reduction so astonishingly rigorous that it enables the two-tonne kerb weight of this six cylinder Audi to match that of a rival four cylinder Volvo XC90.
As a result, much to the Swedish brand’s annoyance, the fuel returns of this Q7 now actually slightly shade those of the rival XC90 D5 model that would otherwise be the efficiency leader when it comes to this kind of car. This Q7, in 3. 0 TDI 218PS guise, manages 52. 3mpg on the combined cycle and 144g/km of CO2: in other words, about the same running costs as you’d get from a little 1. 6-litre automatic petrol Ford Focus. Yet this Audi still gives you 4WD. And the kind of seven-seat capability that means when we’re going out as a family and my kids want to take their friends, we can take one car rather than two. So much for big, luxury SUVs polluting the planet.
In summary, we’re left with a car that’s slimmed down and shaped up. Audi are certainly aware that a model of this kind can never be completely eco-centric, but as they’ve proved in this case, there’s certainly plenty that can be done to reduce its environmental impact. In short, what we have here is simply this: a lesson in vorsprung durch technic.