Audi SQ7 Review
The Audi SQ7 is a seriously fast version of the seven-seat Q7 SUV but, while it has the pace to match some hot-hatches, it doesn’t feel all that dramatic to drive and it is very expensive.
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What's not so good
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The Audi SQ7 is like an uber-sensible friend who goes out and buys a particularly garish hat because someone told him he was a bit boring. Only in the case of the SQ7, you’ll find it sporting a twin-turbo 4.0-litre V8 diesel engine with 435hp, not a zebra-print fedora.
Audi must have thought all that power was exciting enough on its own because the SQ7 doesn’t come with many visual tweaks to help you tell it apart from the standard Q7.
Sure, a few of the fake air intakes in the front bumper have been drilled out to let air actually reach the engine, but two of the SQ7’s four massive chrome exhausts pipes are just cheap fakes bolted to the rear bumper and its standard 21-inch alloy wheels are no larger than those on a mid-range Q7.
It’s a similar story inside, where the Audi SQ7 gets the same cabin as a Q7 with the addition of little more than some fancier sports seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel.
Sure, you can add a bit of variety by picking a Vorsprung model with some grey oak wood trims and customisable interior mood lighting. But, the latter feels more like it belongs in a posh hotel lobby than a nineties neon rave, so don’t get too excited.
This rather staid and sensible theme runs throughout the SQ7’s interior – there’s ample space for lofty adults to get comfortable in the front and middle rows and, with the second row of seats slid all the way forward, there’s space for kids or small adults to sit in the very back.
With these rearmost seats flipped down, there’s room for much more luggage than you can squeeze in a BMW X5 M50d or Range Rover Sport SDV8, too, and it’s all dead easy to load thanks to the Audi SQ7’s wide boot opening and flat floor.
So, that’s all the boring day-to-day stuff dealt with, but what’s the SQ7 like to drive? Well, things start to liven up pretty quickly when you point the Audi SQ7 in the direction of a motorway slip road and hit the accelerator.
Its 4.0-litre diesel V8 produces the same amount of torque as a Bentley Continental W12 which helps hurls this huge SUV from 0-60mph in 4.8 seconds. That’s serious hot-hatch territory in a massive seven-seater that’s practical enough to put removal vans to shame.
The Audi SQ7 might look and feel like a practical seven-seater SUV on the inside, but lurking under its bonnet is an engine with enough power torque to out-perform some sports cars.
Sadly, while your eyes are treated to some pretty clear signs that you’re approaching warp-factor 10, your ears will be none the wiser. Sure, when it’s in Dynamic mode, the SQ7 produces all sorts of convincing sports-car-rivalling rumbles but hit the button for Comfort and it becomes clear that these baritone burbles are just synthesised sounds being pumped through the car’s speakers. Shame.
However, this subdued nature is exactly what makes the SQ7 such a good motorway cruiser – albeit one that’s probably more at home on the autobahn than the A46. It’ll blast past slow-moving traffic with just a prod of the accelerator, yet its standard adaptive sports air suspension means it’ll soak up bumps and potholes just as well as a standard Q7.
The standard automatic gearbox does its thing without any jerky shifts or undue hesitation, too, and the Audi SQ7’s standard quattro four-wheel-drive system means it won’t be flummoxed by a light dusting of snow come winter.
The Audi SQ7 is quiet when you’re just cruising along, and you can get it with all sorts of driver-assistance systems to take the sting out of long drives. The light controls and optional surround-view camera system mean it’s pretty easy to drive in town but – and it’s quite a big but – this is all true of the most powerful version of the standard Q7. Sure, that car doesn’t deliver the same incongruous acceleration when you hit the throttle, but it could be yours for almost £15,000 less and it feels just as posh inside.
The choice is yours, then. If you want a big, practical seven-seater that’s pretty quick and packed with tech, get a standard Q7. If you fancy all of that but want to arrive a few minutes earlier (and you have some serious cash burning a hole in your pocket) then the SQ7 is worth a look.