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Audi Q7 3.6 V6 FSI S-Line Car Review | 1 June 2007

Driven June 2007

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It's an uncomfortable feeling, akin, I'm guessing, to acute paranoid schizophrenia, when you're nudging a Q7 through rush-hour traffic on the Friday night scramble homewards and it looks like every single oncoming driver is spewing forth expletives aimed squarely in your direction.

So monstrously large is Audi's first (and please God last) SUV that its driver becomes an instant magnet for indignant vitriol, and nowhere more deservedly so than on a choking west London rat run.

The only way to survive a drive like this is to embrace the vastness, even wallow in it, and disregard the fact that everybody else thinks you're Satan's stool sample.

This you simply cannot do on a narrow Victorian residential street (the Q7's natural habitat), and it gets even harder with a new 3.6 FSI V6 petrol engine under the hood. For when you finally point your 2.25 tonnes of soft-road status down an empty stretch of tarmac, and lean greedily on the throttle, you are reminded further of the drawbacks of owning such a leviathan. Foot mashed to the floor, sod all seems to happen.

FSI technology, in a nutshell, is a highly sophisticated direct injection system that makes an engine smoother and more efficient. Put a big V6 like this in a small saloon and it's a safe bet we'd all be hailing FSI's triumphant descent from Audi R8 Le Mans cars, demonstrating its responsiveness and soap-boxing about its stunning refinement.

But in a car that's heavy enough to disrupt the moon's gravitational pull, 276bhp and 265lb ft of torque don't quite cut it. And if you load this car as Audi intended - i.e. with seven passengers and all their assorted paraphernalia - you'll need to pencil in overtaking manoeuvres for the following week.

The Q7 is a superb bit of kit in isolation, hugely comfortable, hugely refined, hugely huge. It's bloody well put together and, if this is what floats your unfortunate little boat, it also gives you the air of a Russian billionaire as you peer down at the hoi polloi.

But if you really are one of our money-laundering new aristocracy, or just want to be taken for one, then you'll need the 4.2-litre V8 at the very least and probably ought to hang on for the R10-derived V12 diesel that'll turn up in the Q7 in the middle of next year. Enough torque there to pull the moon right off its axis.

Matt Master

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