The Audi Q7’s an incredibly comfortable cruiser that feels more agile in corners than you would expect given its size, but alternatives have more advanced self-driving technology
The Q7 is available with a choice of two 3.0-litre, six-cylinder diesel engines, with either 218 or 272hp.
The 272hp model offers noticeably more performance with a negligible cost to fuel economy. It gets from 0-62mph in a mere 6.5 seconds, yet fuel economy of 48mpg (or around 34mpg in the real world) should be possible. In other words, the huge Q7 will keep pace with a Golf GTI off the lights but, perplexingly, will also be cheaper to run.
Being a passenger in the Q7 is so comfortable it’s a bit like being carried on the back of a giant wearing Nike Air Max trainers
The Q7’s forte is being super comfortable on long drives. Its light controls, smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic gearbox and decent all-round visibility mean it’s easy to drive for such a large car. Plus the interior seems to be quiet no matter what speed you’re doing, helped by the silky smooth power delivery of the Audi’s six-cylinder diesel engines, which don’t clatter like the four-cylinder diesels in the Land Rover Discovery and the Volvo XC90.
Stick with the standard suspension and you’ll find it shrugs off big bumps with ease, but if you want to make the Q7’s interior even more comfortable then the £2,000 air suspension is worth the price. With it fitted the Q7 glides over the bumpiest of roads and the coarsest of surfaces with ease (avoid the optional 21 and 22-inch alloy wheels for best results) making it more comfortable than the Land Rover Discovery.
The air suspension’s adaptive dampers also equip the Audi better for hustling down country roads, where it reins in the Q7’s big body surprisingly well. Around bends the Q7 feels easier to drive than the Volvo XC90.
And although it doesn’t have the clever autonomous driving kit that means the XC90 can pretty much drive itself, the Q7 still achieved five stars for safety when it was crash-tested by Euro NCAP in 2015. Automatic emergency braking, which will stop you having low-speed shunts in town at speeds of up to 19mph, is fitted to all models.
Not that that should really be an issue because the Q7 is pretty easy to drive in town thanks to the brilliant view you get out the front. Front and rear parking sensors are standard (unlike in the Land Rover Discovery), so reverse parking isn’t too much of a pain and the automatic gearbox doesn’t lurch at low speeds.
Venture from the city to the great outdoors and the Audi’s standard four-wheel drive system means it can tackle light off-roading without any problems. But, if you’re looking for a proper off-roader you’ll be better off with the near-unstoppable Land Rover Discovery. The Land Rover also makes a better tow car – it can pull a 3,500kg trailer compared to the Audi’s 2,800kg limit.