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Audi Q7: Primus inter pares


Talk Box

The latest iteration of Ingolstadt’s first SUV remains both relevant and compelling

WHEN INGOLSTADT, Germany-headquartered car maker Audi decided to pull the trigger on entering a then-burgeoning sport utility market in the middle of the 2000s, the first contender it trotted out was the Q7 in 2006, with the smaller Q5 coming two years after. It turned out to be a no-brainer experiment, as the format simply took off. Other premium brands followed suit with similar success.

And Filipinos are no different in our affection for the format, you see, and this is what Audi Philippines continues to count on with the Q7.

The vehicle remains the largest of Audi’s SUVs offerings. Don’t be misled by the Q8’s nomenclature. The Q7 is a seven-seater; the Q8 seats five. Having said that, they’re two completely different animals — with the Q7 hewing to a more practical line and the Q8 assuming a sportier, more dynamic tack in both performance and styling.

This is not to say that the Q7 is an all-business, stiff-upper-lip kind of ride. In fact, there’s a lot of styling savvy to go along with the updated toys compared to the previous generation.

On the outside, the current-gen Q7 doubles down on Audi’s signature Singleframe grille. Whereas the previous generation bore horizontal slats (perhaps to emphasize width) on its nose, the present iteration stands them up. There’s no mistaking though; that Singleframe is huge. Fringing it are headlamps featuring HD Matrix LED tech. Of course, we know that Audi is an LED/daytime running lights pioneer. The Q7’s eyes do not disappoint; you cannot mistake it for anything else other than an Audi.

At the back, luscious chrome accents led by a single strip that connects both taillamps imbue a luxurious feel to the smartly designed hindquarters with refresh graphics. The Q7 wears 20-inch cast aluminum wheels given 285/40 Continentals. Those who loved the overall look of the previous-gen Q7 will surely take a liking to this one in no time flat.

The appointments inside the Q7 help to assure that the vehicle hits the sweet spot not just for the executive set looking primarily for comfortable Point-A-to-Point-B transportation, but even for more fastidious tech-savvy motorists (and passengers) who expect connectivity and convenience.

Building on the virtues of the Virtual Cockpit digital instrumentation that’s now also a true signature of Audi, the 2022 Q7 now banners the Virtual Cockpit Plus that proffers a tasty, high-resolution color information display, and MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch Response. The instrument cluster dangles a measure of customization and allows the driver easy visual reference for key functions and metrics. It takes but a while to get comfortable with the system, but a sundry of stuff can be accessed through the three-spoke leather-covered steering wheel with a number of control buttons. Behind the wheel are paddle shifters for more direct switching of gears.

The Q7 gets a premium Bang & Olufsen audio system, an ambient LED lighting package, and four-zone automatic air-conditioning. There’s even Audi Music Interface in the rear seat.

While the first-generation Q7 featured a display that emerged from the top of the dashboard, the current model now boasts a less distracting screen that is situated more unobtrusively in the center of the panel. When turned off, it’s as if the screen isn’t there at all.

The touchscreen (as with another one below it) also provides haptic and acoustic feedback. Maybe because Audi has been at it for a while, the system feels less gimmicky and more genuinely intuitive. The brand even throws in “power-latching, soft-closing” doors that automatically close properly if you or a passenger fail to do so.

Coming in a single diesel variant, the Q7, said Audi Philippines General Sales Manager Paolo Brambilla to “Velocity,” now shares some features with its more premium, aforementioned Q8 sibling such as wireless Apple CarPlay, a twin MMI system, and even an ionizer.

The practicality of the seven-seater is best expressed in its up to 1,925 liters of cargo space. If you have a lot of stuff to transport, all rows of seats can be slid forward and backward individually, with the seatbacks able to be folded flat. The grocery-getter’s friend, an electrically operated tailgate, also comes standard.

Under the Q7 hood is a hearty, smooth-purring 3.0-liter TDI V6 turbocharged diesel engine corralling up to 286 horses and 600Nm of torque. The driver can access this output through an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission commanding a Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. This gives the large, 5.063-meter-long vehicle ample grunt to overtake on demand.

Added sauce is a mild hybrid system, featuring a Belt Alternator Starter (BAS) that “powers the full-size SUV’s 48-volt main electrical system.” Like similar systems, the Q7’s can recover energy during braking for storage in a small lithium-ion battery. “This cycle of recovery, conversion and storage takes place when the vehicle is traveling at speeds in between 55kph and 160kph,” reported Audi Philippines.

Where does this energy come in handy? Well, the Q7’s system shuts off the engine “during certain conditions” such as when the vehicle is coasting. This is the chance of the BAS to step in — restarting the engine when more power is demanded, or when the accelerator is depressed. Stop-and-go situations also accommodate a start-stop function from speeds as low as 22kph. This spells less fuel consumption.

The Q7 excels in safety as well — earning Five Stars (the highest rating) from the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP). It has, added Audi Philippines, full-size front air bags in front, bags at the outboard sides of the front and rear passengers, Isofix child seat mountings, Parking Aid Plus with 360 display, tire pressure monitoring, advanced traction and stability control systems, and numerous driver-assist technologies.

I’ve personally found Audi’s combination of tech and stylistic restraint its greatest asset in all its vehicles. Everything is legible and intuitive — while being sufficiently impressive to elicit a “wow” from you and your passengers.

In the Q7, this ethos arguably finds its purest expression.