Text – Faisal Khan; Pictures – Sri Manikanta Achanta

2015 Audi Q7 Test Drive Review
The Audi Q7 Technology is the top-end variant of 3.0-litre diesel model

Audi Q7 Technology Review

Car Tested: 2015 Audi Q7 35 TDI Technology

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 99,79,750/-

The Audi Q7’s massive road presence continues to intimidate people even today

Big sized SUVs are in good demand even though one end of the market is seeing performance cars go hybrid. That’s largely because in spite of their mammoth size, 7-seater SUVs are getting more efficient. Audi’s flagship SUV, the Q7 has dominated its segment in India for a long time and Bollywood simply loves this car. The Ingolstadt based manufacturer has already unveiled the second generation of the Q7 which is also testing on Indian soil. But before the new Q7 goes on sale, Audi still has something left for the first generation of its flagship SUV, the MY15 Q7 Technology trim, something like a goodbye variant of the car. The 2015 Q7 is not to be confused with the second generation model as the latest iteration of the big Audi is MY16.

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The 2015 Audi Q7 Technology gets slight styling tweaks

Exteriors – Audi’s first SUV, the Q7 was unveiled in 2005 and has aged gracefully. The first generation model has been in the market for a really long time and a mid-life facelift in 2009 gave the big Audi some impressive styling details. Despite being too long in the tooth, the Q7 doesn’t fail to impress and still manages to gather quite the attention with its massive size. This is one humongous car and the presence it carries is definitely something. While the upcoming second generation Q7 is boxy, the first gen appears better with its more rounded appearance (at least in pictures although the design of the new vehicle will grow on us with time). This Technology version of the Q7 gets a sports styling package that comprises of reinforced bumpers with larger air inlets, high gloss finish on the bumper and grille, and bright roof rails. One can’t miss those massive 10-spoke, 20-inch wheels.

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The interiors of the Audi Q7 feel a bit dated and some features aren’t present

Interiors – It is when you step inside that you realise this Audi has served its time as the dashboard looks a bit old compared to the recent models from the four ringed brand. The Technology Edition gets olive ash interior inlays and a three row panoramic roof but there are still some crucial things missing like USB ports, distance to empty function or a single button for engine start-stop (there are two buttons, one for stop and the other for start and there is also a keyhole so the start-stop button does look like an after-thought). The car also gets a foot operated handbrake instead of an electric parking brake! Minor gremlins aside, the cabin is loaded with a lot of kit, something one would expect from Audi’s flagship SUV.

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The second row can seat two and there is plenty of space and comfort on offer

The Audi Q7 comes with a BOSE sound system that gives good audio output and one can navigate with little effort using the MMI system. The vehicle gets a 4-zone climate control system, electric adjustment for the front seats (with memory function), Parking System Plus with rearview camera and 8 airbags. The Comfort second row seating makes this car a fabulous 4-seater as the last row is best kept folded to boost luggage carrying capacity. The third row is best for children and lacks space for adults. The boot is huge with the last row folded and we expect the upcoming new generation model to get electric folding rear seats like seen on the Mercedes GL-Class. With good interior room in the front two rows and excellent seats, the Q7 is fit for long drives.

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The 3.0-litre diesel engine offers refined performance but has ample punch

Performance – The Audi Q7 Technology is offered in 35 TDI guise which means it draws power from the 2967cc, 6-cylinder oil burner, generating 245 HP between 3800-4400 RPM and 550 Nm between 1750-2750 RPM. Now this engine is very popular in other Audi models and it does a decent job in the heavy Q7 too, offering slick city performance and good enough highway grunt. Sure it won’t put the tarmac on fire but for those duties, there is the 4.2-litre diesel engine equipped Q7. 0-100 km/hr takes 7.73 seconds as per our VBOX tests, the ton coming up in third gear while the top speed is 218 km/hr.

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The gearbox on the Q7 does its job brilliantly, shifting with secrecy

The Audi Q7’s six-pot diesel mill performs with a calm and refinement you expect from a luxury SUV

The motor is very refined and is barely audible and when it does get vocal, it doesn’t do it in a gruff manner. Instead, it’s the overall smoothness which makes the Q7 reveal why it’s Audi’s top of the line SUV and the gearbox compliments that perfectly. The 8-speed uint is silent and accurate, it likes to skip gears when it deems it right to do so but without you getting the slightest of hints. We remember driving in fifth gear with part throttle and the next thing we see is the Q7 is in top gear, not giving a clue as to when the shifts took place. Mid-range is the strong part here and there are three modes – D, S and tiptronic for the manual, there is shockingly no paddle shifts!

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The Q7’s cruising ability is excellent and the engine has a strong mid-range

D is the regular driving mode where the car keeps things quiet (73 dB at idle) and keeps efficiency in mind as well. In S and tiptronic modes, the powerplant becomes more eager and upshifts take place at the 4800 RPM redline (4500 RPM in D). But it’s how the Q7 cruises which is totally the standout point as it simply likes to gobble up miles by keeping occupants devoid of any fatigue. 100 km/hr in 8th gear results in 1500 RPM on the tachometer and one push of the big pedal is enough to dispatch slow moving vehicles in a jiffy. Driven sanely, this 6-seater Audi will return close to 7.5 km/l which combined with its 100-litre fuel tank results in a tank range of more than 700 kms.

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Inspite of having 20-inch, 40-profile tyres, the Audi Q7 still rides very well

Driving Dynamics – The Audi Q7 is one heavy vehicle, even by SUV standards, it tips the scales at 2270 kgs and that does hamper its dynamic ability as there is considerable body roll. You do feel the length and weight of the Q7 to a certain extent but the quattro vehicle comes with Adaptive Air Suspension and one can choose between 4 modes – off-road, comfort, auto and dynamic. The dampers get adjusted according to the mode and one can also lift the ride height to traverse bad road surfaces without any worry, this Audi glides over even the worst of breakers without touching its underbelly.

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There is quite a lot of roll in Comfort mode but handling improves in Dynamic

Once you get into Dynamic mode, the Audi Q7 lowers itself and becomes eager to corner, showing considerable improvement in handling over the Comfort mode. The Technology variant runs on 295/40/20 tyres and still the ride quality is very good, there is no thud inside the cabin even on expansion joints at high speeds. The vehicle remains stable at speed and that’s where all that weight does play its part. The steering could do with more feel and feedback though but this isn’t a car you would want to push hard. Braking performance is adequate but the pedal could do with more progressive feel and better stopping power is the need of the hour.

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This generation of the Audi Q7 is on its way out and the new model is smaller in size

Verdict – While the second generation Audi Q7 has been unveiled, it is still a few months from going on sale (launch by November 2015) in India. Till that time, Audi will sell you the first generation model and chances are, you can get quite a deal since this is an outgoing model. Although assembled locally, the Q7 Technology costs almost Rs. 1 crore which is Rs. 12.27 lakhs more than the Premium Plus variant or Rs. 19 lakhs more than the Premium variant. With Audi stating that the new model is a considerable improvement over its predecessor, being 325 kgs lighter (lightest in class), 26% more efficient and most spacious in its segment. It has also reduced in size, being smaller than the outgoing model so if size is an important criteria and you can’t really wait any longer, then the Q7 Technology could be one of your options, we would still wait for the second gen model though.

The Audi Q7 Technology offers more appeal than the regular model but with the drastically improved Q7 on its way, it’s best to wait for the second iteration of this popular SUV.

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The more round design of this Q7 does look better than the upcoming model

What’s Cool

* Road presence
* Engine refinement

What’s Not So Cool

* Missing features
* On its way out

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One reason to buy the current Q7 are the hefty discounts which will be offered

Further Reading –

2016 Audi Q7 Unveiled