By Jude Gaya
The Audi Q7 features notable styling, mechanical and interior upgrades that propels this premium SUV to the top of its segment.
When Audi’s 2nd-generation Q7 was launched in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015, it impressed four-ring fans with its modern and comfortable interior cabin, which featured impressive tech features and exemplary levels of refinement, not to mention superb on-road comfort.
With the latest face lift, the Q7 offers considerably more curb appeal and sophistication than before. The interior updates represent a major step forward, rendering Audi a formidable rival to Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo and Land Rover.
The revised single-frame grille makes the Q7 easily recognizable, with features of six (vertical) vanes – previously, they were (horizontal) slats. In S Line guise, a chrome blade runs the width of the front bumper, while the grille is finished in titanium black. The front-end styling is further enhanced by Audi’s Matrix LED technology, as an optional extra. Large 20-inch wheels are offered as standard. At an extra cost, one can adorn their Audi with 21-inch, 5-double-spoke V-style alloys finished in Graphite Grey.
The updated cabin is impressive. When you plant yourself behind the elegant steering wheel for the first time, you’d be forgiven for being overwhelmed by the sheer number of technology and luxury features in front of you. As you would expect for an SUV in its price range, perceived build quality is top-notch and the overall “look and feel” is decidedly premium. Perhaps the most significant upgrade is the dual digital screen setup, with the upper 10.1-inch screen dedicated to core functions – such as infotainment, navigation, telephony and key vehicle information, while the lower 8.6-inch screen provides easy access to the climate control system and also serves as a writing pad if one needs to quickly search for contacts or navigation destinations.
The screens effectively reduce the need for physical buttons in the cabin, offering acoustic and haptic feedback, giving a feeling of one pressing physical button when you tap on the surfaces. The screens’ menus are simple and easy to navigate, with functions such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto being accessed wirelessly: You do not need to plug in a cable to access.
Thanks to an embedded sim card, the Q7 is capable of offering live traffic information, weather updates, Wi-Fi hotspot and full access to Audi’s connected services in particular markets.
What’s more, Audi’s Virtual Cockpit Plus (the digital instrument cluster, which is standard) can be easily configured using the mounted buttons on the multi-function steering wheel. It’s a slick system and the graphic resolution is crisp and clear. The Q7 can also be fitted with a head-up display, but again, at an extra cost.
Buyers can also opt for Audi’s Comfort Package, which includes features such as all-wheel steering, adaptive cruise control, swerve assist, efficiency assist and turn assist, as well as 3rd-row seating, which effectively turns the Q7 into a 7-seater. Overall, the interior execution is difficult to fault.
In terms of space and practicality, the Q7 has much to offer, with head, shoulder and legroom for 2nd-row passengers being more than adequate. On the optional 3rd row, legroom is a bit tight and the seating position a trifle awkward, especially for adults.
Adaptive air suspension is standard and allows you to lower the vehicle using a load-bay button, which makes it easier to load larger/heavier items. The tailgate is electronically operated and features foot-activated gesture control.
Driving a thrusting turbo-diesel SUV leaves one somewhat satisfied, especially when it’s as refined as in the Q7. Under its long and wide sculpted bonnet lurks a 3.0-litre V6 workhorse , with healthy outputs of 183 kW of power and 600 Nm of torque. Those numbers meet the tarmac via a buttery-smooth 8-speed automatic transmission and Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system.
Steering-mounted paddles are used to actuate shifts manually on those spirited runs and you can select the appropriate driving mode using the Drive Select button in the centre console.
With a claimed zero to 100 kph time of 6.9 seconds, the Q7 is fairly quick for a Premium SUV that tips the scales at over 2.2 tonnes. The Q7 makes light work of overtaking and its in-gear acceleration – from 80 kph to 120 kph and beyond, if you must, is mightily impressive.
The Q7 is nimble and capable of attacking corners with a modicum of enthusiasm. This increased agility might very well be the result of Audi’s advanced 4-wheel steering – offered as part of the Comfort Package, which the manufacturer claims to offer greater manoeuvrability at lower speeds – which shrinks the turning circle, while improving handling ability at high speeds. As for the Q7’s ride quality, it’s supremely comfortable on both tar and gravel and the Q7 arguably sets the benchmark for ride comfort in this segment.
The Audi Q7 continues to meet expectations in more areas, over-deliver on most, and rarely puts a foot wrong. Expensive, sure, but it is one of the best choices you can make at this end of the market, regardless of the fuel type you prefer. Its styling might be a tad too conservative for some, but the latest updates have undeniably given the Q7 more curb as well as road presence.
The interior is spacious and practical and the cabin can be lavishly-equipped with Audi’s latest technology, provided that you are willing to splurge on the Ingolstadt-based brand’s extensive options list.
In terms of performance, the Q7 is definitely more accomplished than it was in 2015 and the latest updates have ultimately strengthened the Audi Q7’s buying proposition.