2016 Audi Q7

People's champion

"The eight cogs on the new transmission box allow the 2000 kg beast to be hauled up to its top whack of 250 km/h seamlessly," said Ershad.

"The Audi and Q7 styling cues are definitely there, but with an overall toned look."

"There is an overall increase in the dynamic feedback!"

The Q7 has been on a strict diet comprising of organic veggies and protein shakes lately; or so it seems on your first glance at the latest incarnation of the Audi Q7. The Audi and Q7 styling cues are definitely there, but with an overall toned look. Yes, the new car is less on length, width, height and weight! The Q7 has lost around 325 kg in its new avatar and weighs in at an impressive 2000 kg, approximately. The boffins at the Audi R&D center have incorporated a lot of aluminum and worked very hard on the overall design to keep the weight down, which translates into better fuel efficiency and thereby a lighter carbon footprint on our beloved planet.

The new Audi Q7 features a 3.0 liter supercharged V6 engine spurting out a healthy 333 hp of power. The version we are testing is the 45 TFSI. This is in accordance with the new Audi model nomenclature, which defines something called "dynamic factor". In simple words, a 50 TFSI car will be more powerful than a 45 TFSI, which in turn will be more powerful than a 30 TFSI. It is in some way connected to the g-force during acceleration. A higher number will guarantee a quicker 0 to 100 km/h sprint. A completely new eight speed transmission ensures that all 333 horsepower is distributed to all four wheels of the Q7 quattro drive. In normal driving conditions, 60 percent of the drive is provided to the rear axle and the front axle gets hold of the remaining 40 percent. This, however, can be changed by the Q7's computer brain according to driving conditions and current situation. The eight cogs on the new transmission box allow the 2000 kg beast to be hauled up to its top whack of 250 km/h seamlessly. The combination of the 333 horsepower engine and this new gearbox makes driving around in the Q7 a breeze. The older versions, though powerful, lacked that finesse which is present in loads on this new model. The Audi Q7 also features all-wheel steering which helps in a number of ways. At lower speeds, like in a parking lot, the rear wheels steer in the opposite direction of the front wheels, which reduces turning radius of the vehicle by a considerable amount. A very helpful feature when you are driving around in a full-sized SUV with three rows of seating. At higher speeds, the all-wheel steering provides slight turning inputs to the rear wheels, which steer in the same direction as the front wheels. The result is a much more confident steering response in high-speed turns. Something else that inspires confidence during high-speed maneuvers is the nicely weighted steering - which may seem a bit soft for high-performance enthusiasts - but come on, we are talking about the flagship SUV from Audi, not a track hunter.

The 19 inch wheels on the Q7 look well-proportioned and do not fail in providing ample grip during all driving conditions, be it on the road or off. The new car features air suspension all around, which allows a variation in ride height according to the selection of driving mode. There is almost a 60 mm variation between the lowest and highest ride height; this translates into a high vehicle for off-road and a low vehicle for easy passenger access. The suspension also remains low at higher speeds for increased stability and to aid aerodynamics. There is an overall increase in the dynamic feedback!

Climbing into the Audi Q7 is a lot easier compared to its predecessor, thanks to the lower height of the new car. The new Q7 may be smaller in its exterior dimensions compared to the previous model, but the interior actually feels bigger. It feels roomier, fresher and is sprinkled with luxury in the right places. Three rows of seats await passengers for a comfy ride to their favorite hangout. Access to the third row of seats is excellent, thanks to the double-folding seats on the second row. You no longer have to squeeze in and out of the third row on a Q7. There is a decent usage of soft-touch materials throughout the cabin with considerable use of wood, and piano black finish. The new 8.3 inch touchscreen infotainment system (MMI) on the Q7 allows you to access and control all features on the car in a straightforward fashion. You can adjust your audio source, audio settings, mood lighting, vehicle dynamics and all safety systems on your car. Playing around with the vehicle dynamics on the MMI, you can shift between normal, sports and off-road modes. As usual, they adjust the throttle response, gearing pattern and suspension settings for the best experience.

The audio system on the Q7 is a Bang & Olufsen 19-speaker system, ensuring that all passengers enjoy a crisp theater-like experience throughout the car. Personally, I love those tweeters that pop up when I turn on the Q7 and go back into hiding when I switch it off. The front seats are very well sculpted providing a good balance of support and comfort - more of comfort though. The seats are electronically adjustable and provide massage and air conditioning features. You aren't aiming for high g-force cornering with this car; so comfortable seats are thumbs up! Rear seats are equally pampering, and I would love to spend a good deal of my time there. Second row seats on the Q7, armrest in position, my favorite tracks on the CD player and yes, let's go for a 2000 km drive! The third row is way better than other models in the market, but still not the best for a full-sized adult. Air conditioning is very effective throughout the Q7 cabin with separately configurable climate zones for each seat. Even with the third row in place, you get a fair amount of luggage space. No, not for your mountain bikes or kids bikes, but you can take a decent amount of camping gear for all your passengers.

The exterior of the new Audi Q7 is completely fresh. You have a single-piece large grille up front proudly shouting the new Audi design lingo, accompanied by two stylish headlamp units which feature the latest in lighting technology. The headlamps have a characteristic intensive depth factor which gels very well with the overall vehicle design. Audi manages to fix their cars with the most impressive daytime running lights, and the Q7 is no exception. Together with the turn signals, they form a double arrow design that seems to be the latest Audi family signature. It looks super cool! Xenon lamps are standard on the new Q7, with optional LED and Matrix headlamps with adaptive lighting features. The side lines of the new Q7 are designed as a tribute to classic quattro design; the theme being "restrained muscularity". Yes, muscular and tight, not flabby! All those veggies and protein shakes paying off, I guess. One glance towards the rear portion of the Q7 and it looks a bit wide compared to the front. The taillights follow a similar design theme as the headlamps and incorporate turn signals which run sequentially inwards to outwards. Two outlets for the exhaust wrap up the rear end of the new Q7 pretty nicely. The boot can be opened by a foot gesture - a feature that is becoming increasingly popular on recent SUVs. The concept is shown convincingly in all the advertisements, but I am ok without it as well!

Verdict
The new Audi Q7 is an excellent overall package. It provides good performance, practicality and safety. A full-size SUV on your 2016 shopping list? Wait no moreā€¦

Pros: Styling in and out, lighter and quicker, spacious cabin, state-of-the-art tech, excellent ride comfort
Cons: We still miss the V8s
Rivals: Volvo XC90, Land Rover Discovery 4, Mercedes-Benz GLS, Infiniti QX60, Lexus GX
Engine: 3.0 liter supercharged V6, 333 hp @ 6500 rpm, 440 Nm @ 2900 rpm
Transmission: 8 speed auto with manual shifting mode, 4WD
Performance: 0-100 km/h: 6.3 sec, 8.3-7.9 L /100 km, top speed: 250 km/h
Weight: 2030 kg
One word: Lighter
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