Luxurious comfort, the largest cabin in its segment and as much as 325km lighter – that’s what Audi claims for the new edition of the Audi Q7 all-wheel drive SUV just launched in South Africa.
The car has been around since 2006, but the latest model, now available at dealers, is slimmer at 1.97m, though marginally longer than the ‘parking bay’ length of five metres. Make sure you garage door is higher than 1.74m. This data means the Q7 is 37mm shorter and 15mm slimmer narrower but the same height.
Audi says the large SUV has “a new dimension” in design, performance and technology along with “innovative assistance and infotainment systems and revised engine performance”.
That, the automaker adds, makes an impressive package while its new engines consume significantly less fuel than the previous model.
Xenon headlights are standard, units with light-emitting diodes are an option, with the Matrix variation that uses reflectors and a camera to analyse approaching vehicles and adjust the light direction/intensity through 64 stages to suit the situation.
Audi speaks proudly of the Q7’s passenger accommodation: “The interior is extremely variable, user-friendly, comfortable and above all generously dimensioned. It’s the most spacious cabin in the premium SUV segment and knee, shoulder and headroom are each greater than the previous model despite the more compact shell.”
A third row of seats, with power operation, is an option.
Cargo/luggage capacity is impressive – 295 litres with all seven seats occupied, 890 with five seats in place or 2075 with only the front two seats in use.
For now, only one engine, a three-litre turbo-diesel rated by Audi at 183kW/ 600Nm, the latter from 1500-3000 rpm. Acceleration to 100km/h 6.3 seconds, top speed 234km/h. Average fuel consumption is listed by Audi as 5.7 litres/100km – no loading or terrain condition supplied so take that with a large pinch of salt.
A two-litre turbo-petrol engine capable of 185/370Nm is expected in SA in January 2016.
The drivetrain, Audi says, is 20kg lighter than its predecessor and includes a fresh ‘quattro’ AWD system to replace the previous transfer case – it lives in the eight-speed auto gearbox – which can transfer up to 70% of torque the front wheels or up to 85% to the rear, instantly.
Strangely, given South African road conditions and the many gravel and rougher roads the car will be expected to traverse, Audi SA has accepted a reduction of five cm in ground clearance – exacerbated, perhaps, by the longer wheelbase (see more below).
Adaptive air suspension is standard, as are “following” cruise control and – something new – all-wheel steering. The air suspension can adjust ride height: at “off-road” level (speed limited to 80km/h) by a maximum of 3.5cm; it will drop by 5.5cm for easier loading or drop by 1.5cm from 120km/h.
When it comes to lightweight construction, the new Audi Q7 is a benchmark in the large SUV segment. The unladen (without driver) 3.0 TDI registers 1995kg and is rated to tow up to 2.7 tons or 3.5 with adaptive air suspension and the tow ball unit comes with a swivel and “trailer manoeuvre assist”. Hmm, get the dealer to demo…
The standard “multimedia interface” includes satnav, DVD, two card readers, flash memory, Audi sound system, Audi music interface with two USB ports, Bluetooth and a 21cm high-resolution monitor.
The MMI navigation+ accommodates a smart phone to display or read out emails.
Alternatively, there’s an Audi virtual cockpit – a 31cm TFT screen with a resolution of 1440 x 540 pixels displaying “fascinatingly detailed” images. The needle of the rev counter, for example, is recalculated 60 times/second – to which the Corner can only ask: “Why?”
There’s also a choice of Bose or Bang & Olufsen audio, each providing three-dimensional sound with extra speakers in the A pillars. Each has new 3D sound. Two (Bose) or four (Bang & Olufsen) additional speakers in the A-pillars provide the spatial dimension of height, lending the music an airy quality, as if played in an open space from a large virtual stage.
A 25cm Audi tablet (1920×1200 pixels) is a newly tailored and flexible infotainment system. Connected to MMI navigation plus via wifi, it can access the radio, media, navigation and car functions menus. The data transfer runs in both directions – for example, the rear passengers can send a planned route to the driver, and conversely the driver can start a radio or media program for them from MMI navigation plus. The sound output occurs through the on-board sound system or headphones.
The Audi tablet also provides access to the Internet and about a million apps and games, movies and music, audiobooks, eBooks and office applications. The integrated full HD camera can be used to make a video call via Skype. After the trip, the user can take along the Audi tablet from the car for operation off-line or in an external wifi network.
Driver assistance systems
No other model in the segment currently offers as many driver assistance systems as the new Audi Q7. Standard systems include the attention assist system, hold assist, cruise control, adjustable speed limiter, rear parking system and auto braking.
Optional assistance systems include adaptive cruise control, night vision assist, head up display, traffic jam assist, Audi active lane assist, collision avoidance assist, rear cross traffic assist and trailer manoeuvre assist.
Another optional system for the new Audi Q7 is all-wheel steering – a technology fund nowhere else in the SUV segment and which turns each rear wheel a few degrees in the same or opposite direction relative to the front wheels, depending on the situation.
Standard on the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI 183kW quattro tiptronic are:
The new Audi Q7 will be priced at R924 000 with a five-year or 100 000km Audi Freeway Plan, extendable to six years or 200 000km.