Of all the luxury brands to make the transition from cars into SUVs, Audi’s addition of a real sport-ute to its lineup will be the least abrupt. Audi has 25 years of all-wheel-drive experience behind it with quattro. And it already offered a step up into the world of utes in the form of the crossover allroad. So the new Q7 doesn’t come to Audi showrooms out of left field — not like BMW’s X5 did.
Even so, Audi is blurring the Q’s identity a little bit to broaden its appeal. The Q7 has genuine off-road capability, but Audi is playing up its passenger-car-like handling and on-road bias.
So is it a crossover or a true SUV? It’s both, since Audi wants to tackle the likes of the Mercedes-Benz R-Class, the Range Rover Sport, and the BMW X5 — not to mention the vehicles it’s distantly related to, the Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne. It has all the technology it needs to hit the off-road trails, but like its luxury brethren, Audi’s counting on the $50,620 Q7’s sophisticated style and truly carlike handling to get shoppers past the initially odd notion of an Audi truck.
Thrust and parity
Q7 arrives in
The transmission is a six-speed
Tiptronic automatic gearbox, which does an invisibly good job of managing the
power if you decline to use its sport-shift mode. In an SUV of this size,
Tiptronic-style shifting seems a little showy and asinine, so we parked it in
Drive and paid attention to the road ahead as the Q7 hustled around the
Later in the fall, a V-6 option will be offered. That 3.6-liter V-6, derived from the power unit found in the A3 hatchback and the TT sport coupe, also will sport direct-injection technology and will also be teamed up with a six-speed Tiptronic automatic. Making 280 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, the V-6 version will accelerate to 60 mph in less than 8.2 seconds on its way to a top speed of 130 mph. It goes on sale in September.
Fit for duty
2007 Audi Q7Enlarge Photo
The Q7 body is all Audi, and
confidently the best-looking of the trio. Sharp cutlines give athletic
definition to the profile, and the body curvature on the rear end around the
taillamps manages to look clean and simple when it’s really a complex set of
shapes. The Q7 seems far less slab-sided than either the
The body encases a cabin with three rows of seats and, Audi says, 28 seat/cargo configurations. That’s because the third-row seats fold flat and the second-row seats move back and forth four inches to create more legroom, as well as fold flat. Audi says the cargo hold, with two seats up and two rows folded, leaves 88 cubic feet of space for ferry duty. (Six-cylinder cars will be offered without the third-row seat.)
The seating areas are pretty comfortable. The second row has plenty of leg room, the third is predictably scant for adults — but even back there, the nearby trim panels have molded-in cupholders, and flipping and folding the seats into desired positions is an easy task even for 100-pound moms. And getting access to the area is no chore: the tailgate is skinned in lightweight aluminum and is power-operated.
2007 Audi Q7Enlarge Photo
The Q7 comes heavily equipped with luxury features. Leather seats are standard, along with automatic climate control, a power tailgate, the MMI system, 18-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, and keyless entry. Major options include a cold weather package with heated front and second row seats, and heated steering wheel, for $850; a $2400 technology package consists of a rearview camera with rear acoustic parking system, Audi side assist that monitors the vehicle’s blind spots, and a keyless entry-start system; and standalone options like a three-panel sunroof, 19- or 20-inch alloy wheels, a four-zone automatic climate control system, satellite radio, adaptive cruise control, and DVD navigation. Audi also plans to offer an S-line version of the Q7 with 21-inch wheels and body-color trim.
And in terms of safety, Audi stocks the Q7 with dual front, side, and curtain airbags, along with anti-lock brakes, stability and roll control. Rear side airbags are optional.
In the case of the Q7, the numbers don’t have it. Despite its beefy stats and tons of equipment, Audi’s first true SUV is a lighter, nimbler piece than its data sheet spells out. Among its colleagues, only the Range Rover Sport approaches its sense of style and deft blend of on- and off-road personalities.
Base price: $50,620
Engine: 4.2-liter V-8, 350 hp/325 lb-ft
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 200.2 x 78.1 x 68.4 inches
Wheelbase: 118.2 inches
Curb weight: 5269 lb (V-8)
Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): N/A
Safety equipment: Dual front airbags, side, and curtain airbags; anti-lock brakes, traction control and stability control
Major standard equipment: MMI interface; automatic air conditioning; power tailgate; 18-inch wheels
Warranty: Four years/50,000 miles