Audi brought the 3.0 litre V6 diesel engine variant of the Q7 to India in 2006. And the flagship SUV of the Ingolstadt based carmaker became popular with Bollywood celebrities and established business bureaucrats. Even if it is rather big to be driven in crowded cities of India, the dynamic profile of Q7 and the luxury features packed into its cabin make it a more attractive package than the Q5 and Q3. So Audi also launched the model with 4.2 litre V8 TDi engine.
Under the new nomenclature of the company that badges cars as per their performance, the Q7 with 3.0 litre V6 engine is now known as 35 TDi and the one with bigger 4.2 litre engine is called 45 TDi Quattro. Unlike the 35TDi available in three variants – Premium, Premium Plus and Technology Pack, the 45 TDi Quattro comes only in top end Technology Pack in India.
The 4134 cc V8 diesel mill generates 340 bhp and has 77.5 kgm of peak torque. It is mated to 8 speed tiptronic transmission. The Q7 is not short of power even with its 3.0 litre V6 engine and this is what makes the version with bigger unit even more interesting to test. What are the top limits of its performance? How does it feel inside the lavishly done cabin? How well does the Q7 45 TDi prove itself as the flagship SUV of the German carmaker? ECARDLR does a 360 degree analysis to give you the complete picture:
Exteriors and Engineering
The first thing that strikes about the Q7 is its size. This 5089 mm long and 1737 mm tall Quattro is bigger than its rival BMW X6 and weighs over 2.5 tonnes. The large chrome grille with vertical struts accentuates its brawny form and the taut creases on the bonnet give it a muscular look. With their LED daytime running lights, the backswept xenon plus headlamps add to the distinct looks of the Q7 and make it appear exclusive on the road. In the true Audi luxury style, these headlamps get their own washers. A string of LED lights also adorns the upper edge of the split side air intakes and chrome-bezel round fog lamps sit on its lower part.
Audi’s designers have given a softly falling roofline to the Q7 and this to some extent helps in concealing its 5.09 m length. For a more complete look of the profile, the glass area between the C and D pillar is large and after that there is a little rear overhang. On the door panels a sharp character line stretches between the headlamps and tail lights. And there is another crease on their lower side flanked by the two wheel arches. The bulge of these wheel arches again highlights the brawny profile of the SUV and also tries to visually suppress the massive length of the car to a limited extent. Q7 uses 18” Cast aluminium alloy wheels with 5 double spoke design as standard. These are covered by 255/55 profile rubber. Upgrade is available to 19 and 20 inchers.
At the rear the design is somewhat generic and there is a rounded appearance. The tail lamps with curvy design have LEDs for a special illumination pattern. There is an alcove for the number plate and the broad bumper carries long, slim reflector strips. The twin tipped exhaust has chrome finish and there is a black cladding between the outlets to complete the look of this hefty, four-wheel-drive SUV.
All Q7s now have the brake energy recovery system. This is how it works – when you apply the brakes or are in the coasting mode, the kinetic energy being lugged is changed into electrical energy and provisionally stored in the on-board electrical system battery. With hard acceleration, this charge stored in the battery unit works for the car’s electrical system and by reducing the load on alternator brings a small improvement in the fuel efficiency. The entire process is completely non-intrusive and not many Q7 owners know about it.
This SUV has a monocoque chassis and gets adjustable air suspension system. Although the tyres are run-flat type, the company offers a space saver for the spare.
The Look and Feel of Cabin
Built on 3002 mm of wheelbase, the cabin of this SUV is luxurious as you would expect it to be. It is loaded with tech-rich equipment, the quality of materials is top-notch and the ergonomics feel well thought-out. The wooden inlays on the dashboard, door panels and centre console add oodles of style to the ambience. The chunky, multifunction steering wheel is electrically adjustable for rake and reach.
The electrically adjustable large front seats feel very comfortable for a long drive. There is a memory package for the driver’s seat. The buttons and knobs on the centre console are highlighted by LED illumination. Other lighting features for this well endowed cabin include active reflectors on doors, illumination on ingress and subtle background lighting for the doors.
Affixed above the centre AC vents, the MMI display for infotainment system has clearly readable graphics and it has 10 GB internal hard drive. Operated with the buttons on the centre console, it gives quick access to frequently used functionalities. Since the variant on offer for the Q7 45 TDi Quattro is top end Technology Pack, it also comes with voice control for basic functions on the MMI menu. The standard Parking System Plus along with reversing camera provides a good view of the area around your car and warns you of any obstacles via the MMI.
The two side seats in the second row are no less comfortable and the legroom is aplenty. While this is a full bench seat, the space in middle is for the push down armrest. The seats have foldable head restraints and can be adjusted for back support. To create a loading floor on the second row, they can be split and fully pushed down. With screens mounted behind the front seats, the chauffeur driven can keep themselves occupied with CDs and DVDs.
On the third row of seats, the space is little restricted but children will be comfortable there and you can always fold it down for stowage of additional things. Nevertheless, this row too offers more space for an occupant than what is provided by some other luxury 7 seater SUVs.
Audi Q7 has 4-zone climate control as standard and this maintains comfortable temperature for the three rows of seats. Temperature settings can be individually controlled for driver, front passenger, second and third row of seats. But the sunscreen is not a practical feature for cars in India and the large one with the Q7 can soak up considerable heat so the climate control will set a very low temperature for comfort.
You get adequate space for luggage in this car. Even with all the rows in use, there is 330 litres of room for bags. By folding down the third row the space is increased to 775 litres and with second row flattened out there is 2035 litres of luggage cove. Audi Q7 lets you configure its seats in 27 ways as per your requirements and preferences.
There is a range of standard and advanced safety features in this top end trim of the Q7. You get 6 airbags including side units for rear seat occupants. The intelligent system keeps a link between the active safety systems such as anti lock braking, ASR, EDL, and electronic brake force distribution.
Powertrain, Transmission and Performance
The 4.2 litre engine plonked in the Q7 also powers Audi A8L 4.2 TDi and even though the Quattro SUV scales at over 2.5 tonne, it has 340 bhp of power and 77.5 kgm of stonking torque. This engine is coupled with 8 speed tiptronic automatic transmission. The specs are staggering indeed and the Q7 tempts you test its prowess.
No loud noise at idling. It is only a mild hum of the diesel as in the A8 saloon. As you propel the car into action, the refined nature of the engine continues to impress you. And the pulling power of this 4134 cc mill is delightful. The peak torque of 77.5 kgm comes from 1750 rpm and so there is hardly any turbo lag. All you need to do is to press the accelerator lightly and enjoy the shove back action into the well cushioned seat. The 0-100 km/hour comes in 6.5 seconds. And so relaxed is the drive that you don’t even realise when the speed reaches three digit figures.
With a wide powerband, the diesel mill pulls hard and strong up to the rpm redline. The peak power of 340 bhp comes at 4000 rpm. The kind of performance exhibited by the Q7 is comparable to the petrol powered sports cars.
The gearshifts through the 8 speed auto ‘box are smooth and have good ratios. The jumps in engine speed have been kept low and it the 4.2 litre unit almost always works close to its ideal operating level. The Q7 can do a 50 km/hour in the 5th gear.
In the Quattro permanent four-wheel system, 60 percent of the power is sent to the rear wheels and 40 percent to the front. But as per the driving conditions, the mechanical-action centre differential can direct up to 65 percent of the power to the front or up to 85 percent to the rear.
Ride and Handling
The Q7 rides well at city driving speeds and can absorb most of the bumps without causing any discomfort to the cabin occupants. The ride is a bit lumpy at high speeds especially on rippled roads but that is also attributed to the low-profile tyres and big wheels. While the ride quality improves in the Comfort mode, it is not the best-in-class.
You will feel the heavy weight of the Q7 45 TDi while taking it around the corners but the body roll is controlled. It is not to be taken speedily around the corners.
Playing with the adaptive air suspension settings you can adjust the ride and handling behaviour of this SUV to some extent. In the Dynamic mode the steering feels heavier and offers good feedback. The suspension is firmed up and the Q7 becomes easier to handle. Even the body roll reduces in this mode.
This Audi has moderate off roading abilities and the air suspension can raise the ground clearance by 25mm to ride over large obstructions easily. But do not try severe off-roading in the Q7.
The owners of Q7 may not really bother about fuel economy but it does matter when you’re planning a long distance trip through roads where fuelling stations are widely spread out. ARAI certified 11.3 km/litre for this car. In the real world it translates to 9.5 km/litre on the highways and 5 km/litre in the city.
Audi Q7 45 TDi Quattro Technology Pack is priced at Rs 83.64 lakhs (ex showroom price Delhi). You do pay lot more for this version than the top end variant of the 35 TDi but also get that extra bonus of power that makes this car so enjoyable to drive. Furthermore, some features that are optional in its smaller sibling come as standard with the 45 TDi Quattro. So if you have that kind of money to spend on a luxury SUV and are addicted to power, the Q7 with 4.2 litre V8 is a brawny entertainer. Just make sure that you also have a good parking space for this one!
Value for Money: 4/5