Audi Q7 Quattro SUV Review
The Audi Q7 has been the German marque’s flagship luxury SUV since its introduction 15 years ago. Always sharing a platform with the Volkswagen Touareg, the Q7 has consistently offered a more imperious, luxurious and spacious answer to the BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport.
The second-generation car has been on sale since 2015, with a facelift debuting in 2019. As such, the current car is moving into the latter stages of its life cycle. The MLB platform it rides on is now a six-year-old design but it’s proven and competent, now serving in 600hp+ super SUVs from Lamborghini and Bentley.
Any worries about it being a bit ‘old hat’ are unfounded. Does it still, as designed, offer that perfect middle-ground luxury SUV experience? That’s certainly Audi’s hope.
Select's rating score* - 3.9 / 5
At a glance
There’s a comforting familiarity to the Q7 at this point. It’s smaller, cheaper and subtler (even with its new mouth) than the BMW X7. Where some of Audi’s recent models have moved to a fussier design, the Q7 retains a refreshing sharpness.
It has that premium look and feel that the Audi badge brings without scowl-worthy prices, albeit without considering what is a healthy-sized options list and a range of powertrains - although they’re all 3.0-litres, the petrol and diesel choices range from 231 to 340hp, although the SQ7 gains a litre and another 167hp.
For some, little else in the marketplace will do. The Q7 is unique at its price point for the level of luxury it offers along with seven seats.
Audi has, for the most part, avoided positioning the Q7 SUV as a sports model (yes, we know what the S in SUV stands for) and has opted to meet the needs of what customers really want.
That means there’s air suspension across the range, offering a pillowy soft ride when set to Comfort mode, while the seven seats are trimmed like your grandmother's armchair.
With a high-grade stereo system and digital touchscreens everywhere, driving the Audi Q7 is like driving your lounge, and it’s all the better for that.
If you want to take a two-tonne behemoth to the Nurburgring and try to set lap records, you go for it. I’ll be cruising along in comfort in the Q7.
Performance & Drive
For a large, seven-seater luxury SUV, the Audi Q7 returns some impressive performance. Audi’s two 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines, the 45 TDI and 50 TDI, both provide plenty of power with 231 and 286hp respectively. There are two petrol options available, too - the V6 55 TSFI which provides 340hp, and the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) 55 TSFI e.
Like the pure petrol version, the PHEV uses the V6 petrol engine, but in conjunction with an electric motor. At full charge, Audi claims the battery power alone will give 34 miles of range, but that’s in ideal conditions, so expect that to decrease to nearer 25 miles in everyday use.
If it’s a smooth, comfortable ride you’re looking for, then Audi Q7 might be the right choice thanks to air suspension fitted across the range. Stick with the lower-level trims though, as the Black Edition and Vorsprung trim both have the sports version which is lower and stiffer than the standard, failing to ride the bumps quite so smoothly.
When it comes to handling, the PHEV is heavy and cumbersome due to the additional batteries but, overall, the Q7 is agile and well balanced, particularly given its sheer bulk.
Despite the sports suspension options, the Q7 is more geared towards luxury than sports performance, so although there is plenty of power to shift the well-proportioned heft of Teutonic metal, it’s built for comfort ahead of outright speed.
The Q7 gives a quiet ride too, with little wind noise and road noise is well dampened, even at motorway speeds. The diesel engines are a little louder on start-up than the petrol, as you might expect, but this fades quickly as the engine warms up.
The combination of petrol engine and battery-powered motor in the PHEV is harmonious, with a smooth transition between the two power modes.
Life on the road in any car from this class is rarely cheap. Starting from £58,570 it’s comfortably above the £40,000 list price threshold for the higher early-life tax bracket. For company car buyers, non-hybrid cars are locked in the 37% BIK bracket. Happily, the plug-in TFSE e variant starts at 12%, which should take the edge off.
Though Audi claims a 134.5mpg figure for the TFSI e, don’t expect to see such economy returns in real-world use, as that depends entirely on how you use the vehicle. Cover short distances and charge the battery at home overnight and you’ll never touch a drop of petrol. Plough up and down the motorway and the 2.4-tonnes of Q7 will drain the fuel tank quickly!
The most economical Q7 for those covering longer distances is the good old fashioned 45 TDI, which still only gets highs of 34.9mpg. Your wallet will weep if you consider the SQ7 performance model, thanks to official economy figures of 23.3mpg - and we all know you’ll never get that!
The standard petrol and diesel engines produce emissions everywhere from 213g/km to 276g/km of CO2, while the hybridised TFSI e has impressive official figures of 49g/km.
Consider also that pricey servicing is effectively a given in this segment. Audi service quality is exceptional but you’ll feel the sting for the privilege. Happily, the three-year or 60,000-mile warranty should ensure any mishaps are dealt with over the length of an average lease deal.
Interior & Technology
The quality of the interior of the Audi Q7 is immediately apparent as soon as you sit in the cabin. With plenty of brushed metal and high-gloss plastics sitting alongside soft-touch fabrics offering that high-class feel. Add in the subtle ambient lighting and it provides a relaxing environment to spend some time.
Proportions in the cabin are generous, with good amounts of head and legroom for the driver and passenger. The second row of seats is fairly spacious too, with enough shoulder room for three adults to sit reasonably comfortably side by side.
When using all seven seats, taller adults might be less comfortable, but those who are more vertically challenged can ride quite happily for shorter journeys.
The Q7 offers lots of flexibility in the cabin, as the three seats of the second row can all move and fold independently to create exactly the space you need. If the third row of seats are fitted, they fold flat to the boot floor when not needed, and are easily operated via controls in the rear and the boot.
The boot is a mixed bag, depending on how many seats you’re using. Have all seven occupied and what’s left is a paltry 295 litres - about the same as you’ll find in a Ford Fiesta.
With the third row folded down, there’s a more usable 770 litres of space available, while folding everything down and packing the car to the gunwales will allow you to squeeze 1,955 litres of luggage in the back.
Unless you opt for the PHEV, that is. Thanks to the chunky battery pack stored in the back of the car, not only do you lose some boot space, but you also lose the sixth and seventh seats, leaving it as a strict five-seater.
Six years old though it is, the 2019 update of the Q7 was a comprehensive one, dragging over the largely digitised cockpit format of the latest A6, A7 and A8 to the Q7. That means a screen for your climate controls, a screen for your infotainment and of course, a screen for your dials. It’s a veritable pixel fest, which will appeal to some buyers but also put some off. The tactility of buttons is sorely missed by many...
Audi has always been a master of the lighting arts and in the Q7, there is no exception. Coming standard even on the base model are matrix LED lights with dynamic indicators.
On the inside, memory-equipped, electrically adjustable heated seats come as standard upfront, as does MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch, featuring the full gamut of 10.1-inch, 8.6-inch and 12.3-inch screens, with the former two featuring haptic touch feedback.
The Q7 is a nicely-equipped and tech-laden vehicle right out of the box, though there’s plenty you can add if you so choose...
The Audi Q7 received a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating when tested. It performed particularly impressively for adult occupants, scoring 92%. Child occupants, vulnerable road users and safety assist scores were a respective 86, 71 and 72%.
Families will want to option the rear side airbags for the chest and pelvis, which do not come as standard. Nor does ISOFIX in the front passenger seat, but those with child seats will find all five seats in the rear equipped accordingly.
As for active safety systems that are tested, the Q7 comes with the whole lot, from an active bonnet to automatic emergency braking that can detect pedestrians and cyclists in the city. There’s also a speed assistance option and lane assist.
Being a large German luxury car, the Q7 does not escape the perils of a sizable options list. Though it starts from a reasonable £58,570, that can quickly swell with some choice boxes ticked.
Though Sport is the entry spec, if you want the full-house machine you’ll want Vorsprung. That adds 22-inch V-spoke wheels, HD matrix headlights with Audi Laser Light, super sport seats in Valcona leather and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. In terms of driving tech, it also adds clever all-wheel steering, ideal for urban manoeuvrability and high-speed stability.
All that and more comes at a price, though. A full Vorsprung is a £25,000 trim level, putting an entry-engined Q7 up to £81,760, something that will be reflected in your monthly lease payments.
As ever, spec wisely, don’t order more than you need and the price can be kept largely under control. Play a little too fast and loose with the options and you’ll quite literally pay the price...
The Q7 is a very cleverly positioned car in what is a crowded marketplace. It’s competitively priced, a proven quality product, stylish, luxurious and practical in equal measure.
Those less fussed about the grown-up stuff who are more interested in a meaty engine might fancy themselves an eight-cylinder Range Rover Sport. Likewise, die-hard PHEV buyers should look no further than the BMW X5.
Those after sportier driving dynamics with even higher quality levels, nicer ergonomics and arguably a better badge, could make the Porsche Cayenne an attractive prospect.
The Q7 does however remain the sweet spot for a good number of buyers. Of course, if the SUV life isn’t essential, the big-booted Audi experience is available in the lower, lighter A6 Avant. Always worth keeping broad horizons.
It might have been a latecomer to the full-size premium SUV sector, but the Audi Q7 presents an outstanding balance of performance, practicality and presence while maintaining a competitive price. If you want a soft riding cruiser that can take you, your family and all of the detritus that they come with, then there’s probably not a better option.
Where to next?
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*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top five leading independent car website reviews of the Audi Q7
**Correct as of 20/04/2022. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £5,230.26 Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.