This is our first look at Audi’s all-new large SUV, the 2015 Q7.
It’s up to 325kg lighter than the old behemoth, and Audi is claiming this – combined with more efficient engines – helps it use up to 28% less fuel than the previous version.
It also offers all-new infotainment options, the high-tech Audi virtual cockpit (which replaces the dashboard dials with a sharp digital screen) from the new TT as well as smartphone integration from Apple and Google’s Android team.
It even has a trick up its sleeve to help reduce injuries to cyclists on UK roads… intrigued? Read on.
It looks huge!
It is. It’s 5.05 metres long, 1.97 metres wide and 1.74 metres tall, but Audi is quick to point out that it is shorter and less wide than the current version, but gives those inside more room between their head and the roof lining. The fact that it’s smaller suggests there may be some credibility to rumours of an even bigger version (Q9, anyone?) on the horizon.
Volkswagen Group’s new MLB large lightweight platform, combined with clever use of aluminium and high-strength steel (which means you need less heavy metal to stay safe) helps the new Q7′s weight drop to 1,995kg – an impressively low weight for such a hulking great lump of Audi.
Its length shouldn’t be too much of a worry because the Q7 is now available with four-wheel steering, which allows the rear wheels to turn by five degrees, thus reducing the turning circle by a metre.
What powers it?
Although UK engines haven’t been confirmed, Audi has kept things simple by offering you two choices: one petrol and one diesel engine. Both are 3.0-litre units; the diesel (TDI in Audi speak) has 272hp and the petrol (TFSI) will punt you along the road with an impressive 333hp.
Audi claims the Q7 will get up to 49.6 mpg with the diesel unit, and 36.6mpg from the petrol. It’s not a slow thing either – both engines will propel it to 60mph from a standstill in around about the same time as a hot hatch – 6.1 seconds for the petrol and 6.3 for the diesel. Audi points out that the diesel engine in particular has been tuned to let very little noise into the cabin, which should help you cruise to a 145.4mph top speed in the diesel or 155.3mph in the petrol.
You’ll also be able to get a plug-in hybrid version, called the Q7 e-tron. This’ll give you electric motors combined with the V6 diesel engine, and will let you travel 34.8 miles using electric power alone, and will mean you have a 373hp powertrain capable of getting you to 60mph in 6.0 seconds, or 6.1 on electric power alone. The best bit? You can try to equal Audi’s claimed fuel economy of 166.9mpg.
Company car buyers with a bit of salary to spare shouldn’t be too put off by the new Q7 either – the diesel emits as little as 149g/km of CO2, and the petrol 179g/km. If you plump for the optional air suspension you’ll be able to tow 3.5 tonnes as well.
What’s it like inside?
Smart, comfortable and with some interesting technology. There’s a new touchpad by the gearknob on the centre console which gives haptic feedback – meaning it gives a small vibration to tell you when you’ve pressed a virtual button. You’ll be able to zoom on maps and scroll using smartphone-style gestures. This helps reduce the number of buttons littering the dash to make for a smarter looking cabin than the old Q7′s slightly confusing array of switches.
Like the previous version you can spec the new Q7 with five or seven seats, and there’s a hint more legroom than in the old car – you can adjust this using optional sliding middle- and rear-row seats. The rear seats will fold away electrically, leaving you with a flat floor for more luggage.
You’ll also be able to get what Audi calls ‘deluxe’ air conditioning, which simplifies the controls for making the car hotter or cooler, and integrates the temperature controls into the knobs on the vents.
That’s not all as far as technology goes; Audi appears to have developed (or rebadged) a 10.1-inch Android tablet computer for rear-seat passengers; these optional devices serve as screens and playthings for anyone in the back. Thoughtfully, Audi has crash-tested them to make sure your children don’t finally get the Angry Birds tattoo they always wanted. On their faces.
The 2015 Q7 will keep more cyclists alive
As well as the usual Volkswagen Group driver assist technology (automatic city braking, automatic parallel and bay parking, all-round camera view to name a few), the Q7 is the first Audi to include an ‘exit warning system’, which tells you if a cyclist or other vehicle is within swinging range of the door when you open it.
There’s also cross-traffic assist, which activates when you’re driving slowly backwards out of parking spaces, and lets you know if there are cars moving behind you. This alone should save you from those awkward emergency stops when piloting your Q7 out of a Waitrose car park only to find someone nipping past you.
When can I have one?
We’re not sure yet – German customers will be able to order the new Q7 in spring 2015, and the first deliveries will trickle onto the Autobahns from summer. We don’t think UK buyers will have to wait much longer than that. The Germans will be able to get one from around £48,000, which is roughly in line with UK Q7 pricing.