What is it?
The cynic might suggest that the Q7 was conceived to give Audi its own version of the wildly popular BMW X5 at the height of the premium SUV explosion. Can’t blame it for doing that though, right? Nobody had a pop at Bowie for doing a jungle album when that was popular. Anyway, the Q7 is a seven-seat and particularly vast 4x4, built with the road in mind rather than proper off-road ability. Few cars are as versatile, or as big.
For a whopping great SUV the Q7 handles in a reasonably sporty fashion, but not at the expense of ride comfort. It doesn’t waft like a Range Rover, but it’s not perturbed by the average potholed road and it corners with much more assuredness than the British machine. All Q7s get Audi’s eight-speed tiptronic gearbox with paddles, which sloshes through smoothly and kicks down quickly enough when the throttle’s planted. Like any SUV it’s hardly agile and feels like a lead weight, so it’ll descend into understeer if you hit that roundabout too fast.
Visibility is OK, but the size will definitely make parking an issue for some. Ultimately it’s better on the motorway than anywhere else. For that reason, the 3.0 TDI engine is the most suited. It’s far less aggressive than the tree-tearing 4.2 TDI but it’s quieter and quick enough. It comes with a choice of two power outputs, apparently quite minor, but the 62lb ft extra torque of the 245bhp unit is certainly felt on the road and seen against the clock: 0-62mph in 7.8 rather than 9.1 seconds.
On the inside
The 765-litre boot, with the rearmost seats folded, should suit every carrying whim of a family – even one that goes on spontaneous camping weekends. For such a big car it doesn’t seem to use its space as well as it could, however: there’s room for five, but the sixth and seventh seats are small. All fold flush with the floor, creating bus-like loading capacity but the boot floor is high. Audi’s familiar dashboard architecture means it’s clear and classy, though some of the trim surrounding the infotainment screen is a bit tacky.
A mid-life tweak made the engines a little more parsimonious, with the start-stop equipped 3.0 TDI returning 39.2mpg average (in 204bhp guise). For a car so chunky, that ain’t bad – but really it’s the only way to reasonable running costs in a Q7. Audi’s ditched the thirsty old petrol engines but the one non-V6 alternative, the 4.2 TDI V8, isn’t much better than they were, at 30.7mpg. At least all Q7 are now decently equipped, with must-have leather now standard.