Audi SQ7 Review
The Audi SQ7 is the German company’s latest niche-filler – a seven-seater SUV with the ability to out-run some of the quickest hot hatchbacks in a straight line. It’s the most powerful Q7 yet, and its closest rivals are the Mercedes GLS 63 AMG, which is also a seven-seater, the BMW X5M and Range Rover Sport SVR although those two cars can only seat five.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Practical interior
- Build quality
What's not so good
- High running costs
- Surprisingly unexciting
Audi SQ7: what would you like to read next?
As with any S model from Audi, the biggest upgrade over the standard model lies under the bonnet. The twin-turbocharged V8 diesel engine is helped by an electric system that improves throttle response – a world first in a production car – and it really steals the show out on the road thanks to mind-blowing acceleration.
Also a world first is a clever electrical system that controls the SQ7’s active suspension, which in turn keeps this 2.3-tonne leviathan under control in fast corners.
The rest of the car is more or less a regular top-spec Q7, which means you get one of the best interiors in class and a spacious boot, too.
The SQ7 feels like a Q7 with a solid-fuel rocket shoved up its bottom
As with other expensive Audis, to really get the best out of the SQ7 you need to spec up some pricey options such as the clever adaptive suspension. Nevertheless it comes as standard with LED headlights, huge 20-inch wheels, a sporty bodykit with four exhaust pipes and air suspension.
Just like the regular Q7, the SQ7 ticks all the boxes of a successful premium SUV such as a classy interior, balanced ride and seven seats, but also adds impressive handling, sports-car acceleration and the pulling power to rival a small lorry. It also looks more modern next to a BMW X5M and is more agile in corners than the Mercedes GLS 63 AMG, and its diesel engine will use a smidgen less fuel than those petrol-drinking competitors.
If you’re in the market for a quick seven-seater SUV, the Audi SQ7 should be near the top of your list.
The regular Q7 has a simple yet very functional and beautifully built cockpit.
The combination of sportiness and practicality seem to be at odds with each other, but not in the SQ7 – you can have it all, and six other people can enjoy the SQ7’s pace with you
You’ll want an SQ7 if you’re late to somewhere and have loads of kit or people to take with you
Front-seat passengers in the SQ7 get electrically adjustable heated seats upholstered in a combination of leather and Alcantara suede, while passengers in the middle row get acres of space. You can also fit three baby seats in the back and two small children in the rearmost row.
Carrying kids means you’ll also want plenty of smaller storage areas inside the cabin, and the SQ7 doesn’t come up short on this front – its door bins are big, the glovebox is too, and you get a number of smaller storage areas – including a lidded cubby under the front armrest – where you can hide valuables.
Unlike some seven-seaters, even with all the seats occupied the Audi Q7 has room for 295-litres worth of luggage – about 50 litres more than you’ll get in the boot of a small city car such as the Volkswagen Up. That grows substantially to 770 litres when the back row is folded away, while the echoes you’ll hear with all the back seats folded confirms that the resulting 1,955 litre maximum load capacity is plenty big enough.
It’s hard to believe just how fast the SQ7 is, given how big and how heavy it is, but you’ll need to restrain yourself to get anywhere close to the claimed fuel economy
The SQ7 charges forward like an angry rhino
The current Q7 is a fair amount lighter than the old one, but at 2,330kg the SQ7 doesn’t sound exactly featherweight. Still, that’s nothing the 4.0-litre tri-turbocharged V8 diesel engine that lives under the SQ7’s bonnet can’t fix. It produces 435hp – and it’s a real monster out on the road. It has around 100hp less than the BMW X5M, but the more impressive figure is the torque. Thanks to a very advanced air compression system, the Audi produces a whopping 664lb ft of torque at 1,000rpm – that’s barely above idle.
This means that from the moment you press the accelerator the SQ7 pins you to the seat with a force that doesn’t diminish even the slightest as speed builds up in an alarming way. The SQ7 hits 62mph from rest in 4.9 seconds but, despite its power, it can average 31.8mpg if driven carefully. The X5M does the same benchmark quicker at 4.2 seconds, but you’d struggle to get more than 15mpg out of it.
To combat the laws of physics the SQ7 is fitted with something called an active roll bar. This means that, when needed, the electric system can stiffen up the whole car and the results are nothing short of impressive.
The SQ7 has a huge amount of grip in corners and very little body roll – it certainly doesn’t handle like a two-tonne car when you get to a set of corners. There’s also a small speaker mounted in the rear, next to the exhaust, which improves the diesel sound immensely. Have a look at the video below to hear for yourself.