New Two keeps the straight six you love, and adds... four-wheel drive
You are here
It’s a Q7 with a plug socket! It is. Though not, in fact, the first. Back in 2017, Audi released the Q7 e-tron, an oddity that combined a V6 diesel with electric power, apparently in a bid to answer the question, ‘so just HOW heavy can you make a family SUV before its sheer gravity causes it to collapse in itself like a dying star?’. This, though, is a less leftfield (though hardly lighter) take on the XXL-PHEV-SUV formula, combining V6 petrol power and electricity for ample power and (in the UK at least) ample tax breaks. How ample is this power? We tested the less potent ‘55’ Q7, which makes a combined 376bhp. You can have a ‘60’ Q7 with an extra 70-odd horsepower. Trust me, you really don’t need it. This one’s more than quick enough.
442lb ft of torque – as much twist as a McLaren 12C, fact-fans! – gives this alleged ‘entry level’ Q7 PHEV a lightly alarming turn of pace when you stuff the throttle. 0-62mph takes under six seconds, which is more than quick enough in a vehicle with similar dimensions and kerbweight to the Ever Given. How does it feel to drive? Very competent, yet also complicated. Not that the process of actually piloting the Q7 is tricky – there’s a merciful shortage of baffling powertrain modes – but between the two power sources and Audi’s various driver assistance systems, you’re always faintly aware of many complicated processes going on behind the scene. Though the Q7 steers and accelerates with Audi’s trademark slightly distant professionalism, I found it tricky to modulate the brake pedal smoothly around town. This may partly be blamed on the fact I possess the mechanical sympathy of a yak, but also partly on Audi’s ‘Efficiency Assist’ system, which varies the amount of regenerative effort you get from the brakes depending upon your mode and driving conditions. How does it handle the twisties at ten-tenths? I am proud to say I have no idea how a plug-in Q7 handles the twisties at ten-tenths. If you want to know how a plug-in Q7 handles the twisties at ten-tenths, I would humbly suggest you should not be in the market for a plug-in Q7. What I can tell you, far more pertinently, is that this is a seriously refined, whispery SUV. Even with the V6 running, it’s gloriously quiet on the move. In electric mode, it’s far more stealthily subtle than anything this large and chrome-covered has the right to be. Ah yes. Tell me about e-mode. There’s enough oomph from the e-motor alone to keep pace with traffic and most A-road stuff. But despite packing a substantial 17.3kWh battery pack – around 60 per cent bigger than the unit in the Volvo XC40 PHEV, by way of comparison – this isn’t a hybrid that’ll get you from London to Lanarkshire on electric power only, at least not without a lot of recharge stops on the way. Though the battery is officially good for 27 miles of all-electric motoring, unless your right foot is made of candyfloss, you are unlikely to achieve this figure. So what figures will I achieve? Combined economy officially stands at 113mpg. As ever with a plug-in hybrid, your personal mile-per-gallonage will vary – never do a journey longer than 15 miles and have the ability to plug it in wherever you park, you’ll potentially achieve infinity mpg: never go anywhere near a plug socket, you’ll probably be somewhere in the 20s. On a 90-odd mile test drive, I averaged mid-30s (plus a full charge of battery), which is, y’know, pretty good for a 376bhp hippo, but hardly VW XL1 territory. What’s it like inside? It’s an Audi, so interior quality is exemplary, but the virtual-haptic-doodah infotainment stuff does take quite some learning your way around. Oh, and because there’s a hefty battery hiding under the boot floor, you can’t have your Q7 TFSIe as a seven-seater. If you want a Q7 and you’ve got five kids, either be prepared to ditch the battery, or ditch a couple of the kids. So should I buy one? If you really want to demonstrate your eco-credentials, we can’t help feeling there are more philosophically coherent answers than a two-and-a-half tonne, five-metre long mansion-on-stilts. But of course that’s not really why anyone’s going to get a plug-in Q7, is it? They’re going to get it because it’s a big, fast, posh SUV that’s a steal on the Benefit In Kind company car metric. On that score, the Q7’s got it nailed. Score: 7/10