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The Top Gear car review:Audi Q7
For:Smooth riding, very composed dynamics, interior design and quality
Against:Not as clever inside as a Volvo XC90
3.0 TDI Quattro SE 5dr Tip Auto
What we say:
The all-new Q7 is a bit more compact than before – and a lot better to drive
What is it?
The second generation of Audi’s full-size SUV. The last one was a bit of a behemoth, but this one looks, well, not svelte exactly, but it’s certainly done a better job of concealing its size. Looks more like an A8 Allroad than a Q7.
Underneath it sits on an all new platform (called MLB) which will also underpin Bentley’s new Bentayga SUV, but rather than various over-powered petrols, is pushed along by Audi’s familiar 3.0-litre V6 TDI linked to an eight speed auto. Three rows and seven seats come as standard.
This is possibly the area where the Q7 has come on most. Equipped with air suspension on almost all models, it rides very well indeed, and combines this with enough cornering aids to feel far smoother and more wieldy than it should (a massive 300kg weight saving over the old Q7 plays a big part in this). Put it this way, when we tested it in TopGear magazine against the Land Rover Discovery and Volvo XC90, it was the Audi that most impressed us to drive. The centre of gravity appears to have dropped, so the Q7 moves easily and reassuringly, the steering is light and it gets about smoothly and with reasonable grace.
A strong, hushed TDI engine (we naturally prefer the punchier 268bhp version) and smooth, unobtrusive gearbox mean it makes swift, easy progress on-road. It might roll a bit, but any movements are progressive and well controlled. While it can’t live with a Disco in the rough, it’ll make enough of a fist of it to satisfy all but the beardiest off-road types.
On the inside
This is the area that arguably matters just as much as what it’s like to drive. This, after all, is not a sports SUV, but a stylish, desirable people/pet/holiday carrier. It needs to haul stuff, in other words. It’s not as good at this as the new XC90 – the rear seats are quite cramped and dark in comparison and the middle row doesn’t have the same levels of functionality, but on the whole it does a good enough job.
Up front, the driving environment is tremendous: clearly and logically laid out, great materials, good interfaces. The new Virtual Cockpit, taken from the TT, is superb. It’s the kind of car you’ll be happy whiling away the hours in while cruising effortlessly along autoroutes to your holiday destination. Or, more likely, just doing the school run. Either way, the Q7 can cope.
The Q7 is not cheap these days. In S line spec (big wheels, good kit, around £2,500 more than the SE) it’s £52,970. Best hope to get it on a good lease deal and then relish the excellent claimed fuel economy and CO2 figures. These, however, are better in a lower spec car. Opt for smaller wheels (well, small by SUV standards: they’re 19-inch rather than 20s…) and the CO2 drops from 163g/km to 153. Claimed economy is 47.9mpg. You’ll get 35-40mpg. Which isn’t bad for a car of this size.