A battle of large, luxury 4x4s is on the horizon, with new versions of the BMW X5 and Mercedes M-Class due in 2006. Now Audi is joining the fight for the first time with its all-new Q7.
Audi is hugely confident about the 4x4, claiming its handling is good enough to embarrass a sports car, yet providing decent off-road ability at the touch of a button, thanks to some clever electronics.
The car will use a six-speed Tiptronic transmission as standard, while a limited-slip differential sends power to the wheels where it is needed most. To negotiate steep slopes safely, drivers will also be able to engage a hill descent control system.
Initially buyers can pick from a 350bhp 4.2-litre petrol or a 233bhp 3.0-litre diesel, but the number of engine options is likely to grow. A petrol-electric hybrid version will join the range within the next two years.
As it is based on a stretched version of the Porsche Cayenne/VW Touareg platform, there's room for a third row of seats in the Q7. The middle row of three slides forward and back, and reclines.
The two rear rows also fold flat to leave an enormous 2035 litres of luggage space. In five-seater layout, there's still a considerable 775 litres of space, while you’ll find a boot that's almost as big as that of a Ford Focus - even when you're carrying passengers.
To watch our exclusive video preview of some of the models in this sector, click on the relevant link for you below.