Test Drive by Graham Breeze
If you’re in the market for a big diesel SUV look no further than the Audi SQ7, you will be really impressed by this latest masterpiece from the German team.
At launch I was enthused by the 4.0 litre TDi, a clear example of “Vorsprung durch Technik” at it’s very best, and an eagerly anticipated week-long test drive was to prove that first impressions are often the right ones.
It’s a step-up from the already impressive Q7 with a unique 4.0litre V8 diesel engine, featuring world-first technology which produces 0-62 mph in 4.9seconds, and a top speed of 155mph while still achieving 40mpg and competitive CO2 emissions of 190g/km on 20inch wheels.
These are amazing figures and the reason they are so impressive is because Audi has revealed the first production car to incorporate advanced electric powered compressor technology (EPC) driven by a new 48volt electrical subsystem.
To a layman like myself EPC is an absolute mystery but believe me it works. It appears the new compressor augments the work of the two conventional sequential turbochargers to produce outstanding performance. I don’t fully understand the technology but I can vouch for the performance results.
The result is a simply brilliant drive. It sounds magnificent, delivers power with a stunning wave or torque and there’s an instant and stunning response the moment you touch the accelerator pedal. Transition from electric compressor to the engine is smooth and unobserved to the less informed.
Audi Valvelift System (AVS) also debuts in the diesel engine and the result is class leading power output of 435PS and 900Nm of torque with quattro permanent all-wheel drive and not a whisper of turbo-lag.
This is top-spec SUV motoring and a combination of seven-seat luxury and amazing performance pointing firmly in the direction of Range Rover Sport sales. It’s a big car to drive and takes a bit of manoeuvring around the car park but the beautiful burbling of the 4.0litre engine makes you want to wind the windows down and point it out to passers-by.
On the open road it’s a very different story with more power than you will ever need and a choice of seven driving modes to keep you stuck to all types of surface and even a choice of exhaust sounds.
Off-road the SQ7 does all that’s asked of it but I would still have to plump for Range Rover Sport in this department.
Inside the cab is a place of real beauty, blessed with armchair comfort and Audi’s virtual cockpit instrument system and impressive connectivity levels. And the SQ7 is a genuine seven-seater, still boasting just about enough room for the golf clubs with the electrically operated rear seats in place. The back seats would be too claustrophobic for me though, but offering enough room for the kids.
Prices for the model on test started at just under £70,000 but you’ll need the leather S Sport seats and a paint job for an extra £2,675 while test car extras included 21inch alloys, a head-up display, tour pack, parking assistance, red brake callipers, advanced key entry, driver and passenger seat memory function, a driving sports pack, electric steering column, panoramic sunroof, sound system and phone box to take the price up to £95,160.
Audi never fails to impress me when a new model arrives. The SQ7 really does set new standards in the SUV sector and Range Rover, BMW and Porsche will need to respond dramatically to upstage this latest offering.