There’s more to Art Basel than a banana taped to a wall
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£61,165 when new
Aww, that baby elephant is wearing an Audi hat, how cute! Jest at your peril. This is an enormous, and quite enormously intimidating, ‘car’. Inverted commas, because it’s actually a tank masquerading as a friendly family-mobile, albeit an incredibly upmarket one. This, folks, is the new Audi Q7. We’ve driven the range already, but this is our first chance to test it out on UK roads. Our engine/spec here is the 50 TDI in S line spec. Yup, us neither. We understand it means a 3.0-litre V6 diesel, an eight-speed tiptronic auto (your only option in this refreshed-for-2019 Q7), all-wheel-drive, 284bhp and the ability to go from 0-62mph in 6.5secs. So it’s a quick baby elephant, then? Very much so. Torque is impressive (443lb ft), as one would expect of such a thing, and the diesel sixer is able to haul the Q7’s considerable bulk quite indecently both off the line, and mid-range when overtaking.
There’s a slight hesitation no matter the chosen drive mode (there are many, including – weirdly – a ‘dynamic’ one) between accelerator depression, gear selection and then an almighty ‘oh-god-that’s quick’ forward propulsion. But on the whole: it fast. Brakes are a little grabby (but hugely effective) so it’s sometimes tricky to modulate smooth deceleration. Again though: fast. Why’s it weird to have a ‘dynamic’ mode? All SUVs have that. Yes, but it alludes to the bigger philosophical point of why you need to be sporty in something that is very evidently not designed to compete in… sports. Oh sure, in such a mode, the Q7 feels remarkably well put together… for an SUV: the standard-fit air suspension drops its ride height a few millimetres, and everything is harder, sharper and more assertive. There’s practically no body roll, the steering is numb but heavy and accurate, it hoons in and out of corners with relative abandon and holds itself together very well indeed. It’s just… why? Do that with a family onboard and you’ll be requiring the services of a very effective interior cleaning company. Fair enough. What’s it like on UK roads? Respectable. Dial it all back, and it’s a fascinating environment to spend time in. The ride’s good, only becoming unstuck on the very worst of surfaces, which you’d kind of expect something like this to iron out, especially as it feels expensively heavy (it weighs 2.1 tonnes unladen, FYI). The diesel up front sounds brawny, a distant, comforting boom rather than anything intrusive, and it’s all quite polished indeed. The seats are bang on, the visibility really quite good (though our original note about the C-pillar blind spot still holds). Space for the middle row is immense and the boot’s a big ‘un, too, assuming you haven’t popped up the two rearmost seats. That interior looks fantastic. It is. Two large touchscreen displays with proper haptic switch-like feedback. It all falls to hand easily, is easily decipherable on the move, and looks the business. The driver’s instrumentation is the now-proven and excellent Virtual Cockpit display. Nothing wrong with any of the tech. There’s a lot of it, but it works. Materials are top-drawer stuff, too, and there’s a plethora of storage spaces and charging points. Should I get one? A regular 50 TDI S line starts at £62k, which is £10k cheaper than an M Sport BMW X7 with a 3.0-litre diesel, even if the X7 is fractionally larger. We’ll not mention the grille. Our test car actually came in at £71k, including such luminaries as a Bose sound system (worth it), 21s, a larger fuel tank, adaptive sport suspension, Virtual Cockpit ‘Plus’ and puddle lights. But really the question is are you regularly hauling a large family around? Because the Q7 – and, in honesty, others of this ilk – feels a little like overkill on UK roads. OK, so it’s not really any bigger than before and hardly the worst offender when the X7 and Mercedes-Maybach GLS exist, but as we’re becoming more aware of the size of our carbon footprint, maybe we ought to bear in mind our physical one as well. Score: 7/10