This generation of the Audi Q7 may not have garnered the same sort of attention as the previous (1st-generation) model, but with this new facelifted version, Audi has enhanced the design, improved connectivity and added 4-wheel-steer to the package. We drove the revised premium SUV at its local launch in the Western Cape...
The vertical slats in the grille differentiate the facelifted Q7 from the earlier version.
First of all, how do you tell the facelifted Q7 apart from the 2015 Q7? Whereas the original iteration of the 2nd-generation model had horizontal grille slats, the newcomer's slats are vertical. Obviously, that’s not the only visual clue to the Q7’s new design, but it's the easiest one to spot.
The whole front end is altogether more chiselled and shapely, especially with the optional S-Line trim, which incorporates a chrome blade across the Q7's front bumper and a blacked-out radiator grille. As with all the latest Audi models, the LED headlights now feature a signature light display that is instantly recognisable in a rear-view mirror.
The rear end is also equipped with a chrome blade, but unlike the Q8, which has a dazzling light show between the rear lamps, the Q7 merely has a metal strip spanning the width of the tailgate.
What's more, four-wheel steering has been added in order to keep up with market trends; the feature endows the Ingolstadt-based firm's premium SUV with greater agility and a tighter turning circle, while also improving its high-speed stability.
The final inclusion for the facelift is an updated infotainment system that mimics those fitted to almost all other contemporary Audi products.
What’s it like to drive?
It strikes a perfect balance between performance and comfort.
None of the really oily bits have been changed for the facelifted model, so under the bonnet you get the same V6 turbodiesel badged as a 45 TDI. It’s capable of producing 183 kW and 600 Nm of torque and is claimed to propel the Q7 from 0 to 100 kph in 6.9 sec. Executing repeated acceleration runs isn't really the point of a large SUV like this, but it gives you a decent indication of how potent this turbodiesel unit is.
Once the minimal initial delay from the throttle at pull-away disappears, the power delivery is smooth and continuous as you ride a wave of torque through the 8 gears in the Tiptronic transmission (a conventional auto). The modern auto ‘box is so refined these days that you’re hard-pressed to notice any of the shifts unless you pin the accelerator and hold it there. While not as potent as some of its rivals, the Q7 turbodiesel balances performance, economy and driveability perfectly. If it's performance that you are after then the SQ7 will be arriving in 2021 with 900 Nm on tap.
All the demonstration units at the launch were equipped with the optional air suspension, which is, frankly, a must-have in this segment. The system allows for up to 90 mm of vertical travel depending on the drive mode you select (off-road raises it and dynamic lowers it, or you can tweak it yourself with the dashboard button), but, left to its own devices, the suspension delivers a refined, comfortable and stable ride quality. Even in Dynamic mode, where the Q7 is unlikely to spend much of its life, the ride is cushioned and confident, with less body roll than in the "softer" modes.
Wheel sizes can range from 19-inches to 22-inches but over sharper bumps, the knocks are predictably more intrusive on the bigger wheel sizes.
The new infotainment screen replaces the old pop-up screen that would raise out of the dash.
Audi’s new infotainment system was the focus of the interior update. It’s not entirely new (it’s been around for 3 or 4 years), but the 2015 Q7 had the older system with the screen that popped up out of the dashboard. The newer setup is very easy to get your head around and offers loads of customisation that will allow you to tailor the system to how you want it. You can now also utilise wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto.
The infotainment system is equipped with an embedded sim card, which enables live apps such as real-time traffic updates and weather updates en-route. It further has the ability to call Audi services or emergency services if you’re in an accident or require assistance.
Interior space remains the same as the previous version's and is still right at the top of its class if you want to store as much as possible in your car. The load bay is quoted to hold 865 litres and, if you fold down the rear seats (7 seats are optional), 2 050 litres of utility space becomes available.
Audi optionally supplies the rear seat bench plus as part of the Comfort Package; all 3 seats can be moved individually fore/aft and the backrest angle adjusted; if you specify the 3rd row, a pair of seats can be electrically deployed at the push of a button in the load bay/inside of the C-Pillar.
A worthy contender in the pricey premium SUV segment.
Design is subjective, but Audi has successfully restyled its Q7 to make it stand out markedly from its immediate predecessor; it now looks interesting (or distinctive) enough to be seriously considered in a segment where the ability to make a statement is a major selling point.
Whereas many of its rivals have chased performance and handling gains – sometimes to the detriment of ride handling and plushness – Ingolstadt's premium SUV perfectly balances performance and comfort. It feels stable and comfortable on the road, allied with impeccable road manners that make you feel entirely in control of what the sizeable SUV is doing... even at speed, on a twisty piece of road.
The update to the interior infotainment system is very welcome and gives the cabin a modern feel, replete with all the smartphone connectedness you may need. While the asking prices of these premium SUVs seem unfathomable to most of us, the premium demanded for the Q7 is in line with those of its rivals; the newcomer certainly warrants its place in this ultra-competitive segment as the sensible, comfortable and practical choice.
Audi Q7 price in South Africa (November 2020)
|45 TDI quattro tiptronic||R1 328 500|
|45 TDI quattro S line tiptronic||R1 388 500|
The Audi Q7 is sold with a 5-year/100 000 km Audi Freeway (maintenance) plan.