The Audi Q7 recently received a comprehensive facelift and an update to its digital systems. Picture: PHUTI MPYANE
The Audi Q7 recently received a comprehensive facelift and an update to its digital systems.   Picture: PHUTI MPYANE

With its estate car-like body you’d be correct in assuming Audi’s Q7 is the largest of the premium SUVs now on offer. At 5,603mm nose-to-tail, it’s the most substantial in the niche, making it arguably the most practical out of many rivals.

Boot capacity with the seats up is also the most cavernous at 863l. Fold down the rear seats and this jumps to 2,050l, a figure closely beaten by the 4,925mm long Mercedes-Benz GLE. The Benz also matches the Audi’s 2,995mm wheelbase.

Passengers who like to stretch out will be hugely impressed with the Q7’s accommodation. The dash with its glass-effect surface screens with haptic feedback and Audi’s virtual cockpit mimics other new Audis I’ve driven. The festival of lights that glows after nightfall, and created by its huge screens, mood lighting and its active matrix LED headlights is one of its many high points, as is a thumping and crisp-sounding Bose multi-speaker entertainment system.

It’s a luxurious and techy place to be and the experience is heightened by high-quality finishes, incredibly effective noise cancellation measures and optionally sold, height-adjustable dampers. It has Comfort, Individual, Dynamic and Auto modes.

Thanks to four-wheel steering the Q7 steers smoothly and effortlessly around obstacles. An army of sensors give prompt audiovisual warning when you get too close to obstructions. It also has the option of a tow hitch that is electronically tucked underneath the rear bumper to prevent injury when opening the rear tail gate. Towing capacity is 2,700kg.

It’s in its element driving the open roads where it displays little body roll, and being planted just about anywhere you travel. You’d have to possess Herculean restraint to keep it in that docile journey state because the 3.0l V6 TDI with its meaty 183kW and 600Nm, distributed by a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, will tempt you to pile on more speed.

The power from the 45 TDI engine harmonises with stately progression as it does for charging down any road. Another perk is that it sips on the contents of its 75l fuel tank, which can be optioned as an 85l reservoir that promises more than 1,000km of driving range when you want to overland.

The interior is comfortable and large. Picture: SUPPLIED
The interior is comfortable and large. Picture: SUPPLIED

The test vehicle returned on average 7.6l/100km when I was on good behaviour, beating its maker’s 8.0l/100km average claims.

There’s a whiff of lag in the engine before it bullets off and its Dynamic mode varies the steering and damper parameters for a touch of stiffness which brings a surprising sweetness to the large SUV’s reactions.

Grip is plentiful too thanks to the quattro all-wheel drive and makes the Q7 an unlikely fun drive that’s unaffected by its 2.1-tonne weight. It also felt high enough to tackle challenging terrain.

It also looks fabulous in S-Line trim with well-balanced amounts of decorative chrome to keep it away from looking kitsch. The new vertical slat grille also a gets a thumbs up as a domineering style icon.

Try as I did to look for deal breakers I just couldn’t find any. It’s the most obscured of the popular German trio yet probably the most balanced luxury SUV of them all.


Tech Specs

ENGINE

Type: Six-cylinder turbo diesel

Capacity: 3.0l

Power: 183kW

Torque: 600Nm

TRANSMISSION

Type: 8-speed Auto

DRIVETRAIN

Type: All wheel drive

PERFORMANCE

Top speed: 225km/h

0-100km/h: 6.9 sec (claimed)

Fuel Consumption: 8.0l/100km (claimed), 7.4l/100km (as tested)

Emissions: 210g/km

STANDARD FEATURES

Cruise control, multifunction steering wheel, leather seats, Bluetooth telephone and voice control, rear parking assist with camera, rain sensor wipers, keyless access and start, USB ports, high beam assist, six airbags, ABS, stability control

COST OF OWNERSHIP

Warranty: One year/Unlimited kilometres

Maintenance: Five years/100,000km

Price: R1,435,000

Lease*: R30,584 per month

* at 10% interest over 60 months no deposit

Audi Q7 45 TDI quattro S-Line

WE LIKE: Mega size, digital sophistication, fuel consumption, ride quality

WE DISLIKE: Nothing at all

VERDICT: An underrated luxury SUV

Motor News star rating

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Competition

Range Rover Sport SE TDV6, 190kW/6000Nm — R1,429,956

Mercedes-AMG GLE 400d 4Matic, 243kW/700Nm — R1,593,840

Volvo XC90 D5 AWD Inscription, 173kW/480Nm — R1,331,200  

BMW X5 xDrive30d M Sport 195kW/620Nm — R1,473,582

VW Touareg 3.0 TDI Executive R-Line, 190kW/600Nm — R1,499,100

Jaguar F-Pace D300 AWD S, 221kW/650Nm — R1,245,344

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