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New Audi Q7: seven things UK buyers need to know

This is the new Audi Q7.

It’s an all-new car from the ground-up – Audi hasn’t taken the old version and given it a few tweaks like Mercedes recently did with the GLE.

It has a new chassis, an updated engine and is actually smaller than the old one, despite the increased interior space. It costs from £50,340 for the basic SE trim (buy it via carwow and you can already make a £3,000 average saving), or from £53,835 for the top-of-the-range S-Line version. This latter will cost £599 per month on a PCP deal, with a £9,174 deposit.

We tested the Q7 on a 130-mile route including hairpins, sweeping country roads, potholed city streets and motorways around the New Forest, Salisbury and Goodwood. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

It’s a great car for big families

The Q7’s interior is roomy and comfortable. Seven seats come as standard and the boot is a whopping 775 litres with the rearmost seats folded flat. It’s easy to drive, and doesn’t feel as big as it actually is.

The cars we drove had adaptive air suspension fitted – a £2,000 option. It gives you adjustable levels of ride comfort and, in the default ‘auto’ setting, the Q7 smoothes out bumps and lets you drive quickly along country lanes without worrying about the road surface.

What’s more, the air suspension keeps the car as level as possible in corners and under braking, so you stand a chance of keeping the kids asleep for as long as possible. Speaking of kids…

The new Audi Q7 has six Isofix points

This is great news for big families with several young kids – every seat in the car apart from the driver’s seat has secure Isofix mounting points for child seats, so you can fit six child seats at once. Assuming, that is, you can stand the screaming…

It’s a whole grand piano lighter than the old one

Owners of the previous-generation Q7 will know it’s a huge car and uses a lot of fuel in everyday driving. Audi’s put a huge amount of effort into removing weight from the new Q7 to make it more efficient. The new car weighs up to 325kg less than the old one if you order yours without the third row of seats – the equivalent of removing a Steinway grand piano from the boot. Keep the rear seats and you still get a 240kg weight reduction, and it’s noticeably more agile than the old car in corners.

The other result of this crash diet is the new Q7 returns a claimed 47.9mpg – up 25 per cent from the old car’s 38.2mpg. As ever, those figures won’t represent real-world use: we could only eke 33mpg out of the new Q7’s 262hp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine on our 130-mile route which included 50 miles of fuel-friendly motorway driving. Admittedly, our test car was brand new and its engine will ‘free up’ over time to give better economy. It’ll do 0-60mph in 6.5 seconds too, which is faster than its rivals, the Volvo XC90 and BMW X5.

It’s a big car, but easy to drive

Our test route took in narrow country lanes (see above), tight hairpin bends and even a 20-minute crawl around the off-road course at Goodwood. Whatever the situation, the Q7 was always easy to drive, with light, accurate steering that never leaves you worrying whether you’ll squeeze between an oncoming car and a hedge. Take it off-road, and the hill descent control will take over on steep downhill sections, controlling the car’s speed as you sit there with your feet off the pedals.

Most buyers are unlikely to tackle such terrain in a giant seven-seater SUV, but trust us – it’s engineered to go further off-road than you’d think.

Audi’s designed it for tight city driving too

City dwellers might want to consider adding the new all-wheel-steer (AWS) system to their Q7s. This system steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front ones at low speeds to help give the 5.05m-long Q7 a tighter turning circle than the smaller Audi A4 saloon at just 11.4 metres. Audi says it’s designed to give anyone with a tight driveway entrance a good reason to pick the Q7 over its rivals.

At higher speeds, the system steers the rear wheels in the same direction as the front ones. Although it’s a subtle effect, it feels as though there’s a helping hand keeping the Q7 in line as you tackle faster corners. No other large SUV has this system – yet – but we can see it being included on rivals over time, especially considering how many of these cars are used in cities.

There’s a lot of technology, but it doesn’t get in the way

The Q7 has more onboard electronic systems than any Audi model before but, crucially, the majority of the systems are easy to use, or at least work without you having to think about them.

A good example is the matrix LED headlight option. Order this and not only do the lights automatically adjust to avoid dazzling other drivers while lighting up as much of the road as possible, but they are linked to the sat-nav and automatically illuminate upcoming junctions and crossroads to help spot hazards. How cool is that?

The new Q7’s dashboard is dominated by a sweeping air vent that runs all the way from the passenger’s door to the steering wheel, and its proximity to your waist makes you feel tucked in and part of the car – although there’s plenty of room for anyone in the front and middle-row seats.

Audi’s also given the Q7 its showstopping virtual cockpit as seen on the TT. It’s likely to be a popular option, despite costing £1,950 as part of the technology pack. This pack also includes a head-up display (which projects the speed limit, your speed and sat-nav directions on the inside of the windscreen) and a wireless charger for mobile phones.

The virtual cockpit replaces the speedo and rev counter dials with a wide 12-inch display, showing digital versions of those dials, along with all the car information. Flick across the menus and you can have a high-res sat-nav map using Google Maps satellite images displayed in front of you, which works well for keeping your eyes close to the road when navigating.

It’s not all good news

There are a few small flaws on the new Q7, however. Although the interior is beautifully made and incredibly comfortable, it’s more cluttered than the latest Volvo XC90, which has barely any buttons on the dashboard. Also, many of the new Q7s that we drove had grey leather upholstery. We’d stick to black leather, because the grey bears an unfortunate resemblance to a dentists’s chair.

The final downside is that the Q7 isn’t a fun car to drive. You can drive it faster along twisty roads than you’d imagine a giant two-tonne car should go, but it doesn’t encourage you to have fun with it. This final point won’t be a deal breaker for 99 per cent of people who want a large, luxury, seven-seater SUV for family transport, but it’s worth noting that the BMW X5 is a more involving car to drive quickly.

As a way to carry your expanding family in completely comfort and without any hassle, however, the Q7 absolutely excels.

Compare the new Q7 to its biggest rival and order yours now

Read our Volvo XC90 vs Audi Q7 guide to see how 2015’s hottest seven-seater SUVs stack up. Use carwow’s Audi Q7 configurator to build your ideal Q7 and receive offers from the UK’s best Audi dealers. The first UK customer cars will arrive in the UK in August 2015.

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