What Car? says...
Key to the appeal of the Audi Q7 is its versatility. It can seat up to seven people in lavish comfort and yet has the driving manners of something much smaller and lighter. It’s a great tow car, too, and can even manage a bit of off-roading.
Indeed, the five-metre-long Audi Q7 has been one of the very best luxury SUVs since its launch a few years ago. That's despite it competing against some fine alternatives, including the BMW X5, the BMW X7, the Land Rover Discovery, the Land Rover Defender and the Volvo XC90.
Audi has given all of the regular petrol and diesel versions mild-hybrid assistance, allowing the engine to switch itself off when decelerating to save fuel. However, if you're more interested in barnstorming acceleration than thrifty fuel economy, there's also sports SUV version with an astonishing 500bhp petrol engine – you can read about that in our Audi SQ7 review.
In fact, just about the only thing the Q7 can't do is run on electricity. Audi has never offered a fully electric version of its biggest SUV, and while there used to be a plug-in hybrid version (called the 55 TFSIe) it was dropped from the line-up a while back.
Over the next few pages, we’ll explain why the Audi Q7 seven-seater is such a fantastic all-rounder, as well as running you through its few weaknesses. Plus, we’ll tell you which engines and trims make the most sense and which option packs you might want to consider.
Once you've decided which luxury SUV is right for you, head over to our free What Car? New Car Deals service to find out how much you could save on the brochure price without any haggling. You'll find great deals on many makes and models, including some tempting new luxury SUV deals.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
Engine, 0-60mph and gearbox
Even the less powerful of the Audi Q7's two 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines (the 45 TDI) has 228bhp and delivers gutsy acceleration. Mind you, the 282bhp 50 TDI managed 0-60mph in just 6.2sec in our hands and feels far punchier than the 45 TDI from low revs.
Acceleration builds strongly from just 1500rpm, making the Q7 effortless to drive briskly and more than quick enough for a luxury SUV. Both diesels can pull a braked trailer weighing up to 3500kg, and the Q7 is a really stable tow car.
If you don't want a diesel, your only option (apart from the Audi SQ7 sports SUV) is a V6 petrol called the 55 TSFI. It's gutsy enough at low revs, so you don’t need to work it hard – and with 335bhp, acceleration is more than a match for either of the diesels. Fuel economy aside, there’s lots to like about it.
Suspension and ride comfort
Air suspension comes as standard on all versions of the Q7, but it’s the Sport and S Line versions that deliver the most comfortable ride. In fact, in those trims, the Q7 is one of the most relaxing cars to waft around in, proving far comfier than the Land Rover Discovery and the Volvo XC90. Only the more expensive BMW X7 and Range Rover Sport have the edge over the Q7.
If you go for Black Edition or Vorsprung trim, you'll get a 'sports' air suspension system instead. It drops the Q7 15mm closer to the road, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that bumps aren't smothered quite as well. That said, it's still relatively supple – a fact made even more impressive when you consider that the Vorsprung is shod with enormous 22in wheels.
The Q7 is tailored more towards luxury and comfort than sporty handling, but it’s still remarkably agile for a five-metre-long SUV with seven seats. Compared with an X7 or Discovery, for example, it feels positively compact along narrow lanes, with minimal body lean (especially with the sports air suspension setup on Black Edition and Vorsprung trims). There's also lots of grip and it's balanced well between the front and rear wheels.
The steering is accurate, too, with better-judged weighting than an XC90's, even if you don't feel a great deal of sensation streaming to your fingertips. If you want a really big SUV that’s notably better at cornering, you’ll need to look at the Porsche Cayenne.
Noise and vibration
You'll hear a distant background clatter from the 45 TDI and 50 TDI diesels when starting from cold, but this fades away once the engine is up to temperature. Otherwise, you only really hear them under hard acceleration. They’re smoother than the gruff four-cylinder engines in the XC90, although the straight-sixes in the X7 and Discovery are even more refined.
The 55 TFSI petrol is smoother and quieter than diesel versions of the Q7, and sounds sweeter when revved hard. Meanwhile, wind and road noise are well contained at motorway speeds – even in Vorsprung versions with their enormous 22in wheels – although you can hear the Q7's suspension working away along badly surfaced roads.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox fitted to all versions changes smoothly up and down through the ratios, although sometimes proves annoyingly hesitant when you're trying to accelerate briskly away from a standstill.
The interior layout, fit and finish
Driving position and dashboard
All Audi Q7s come with an electrically adjustable driver’s seat. The range of adjustment – which includes an extendable seat base and four-way lumbar adjustment – makes it easy to find a comfortable driving position. The standard seats on entry-level Sport models are supportive enough, but pricier trim levels come with more heavily bolstered seats that hold you in place better through corners.
You’ll also find that the pedals, seat and steering wheel are aligned neatly for a natural driving posture, and there’s a well-positioned footrest to the left of the brake pedal. In fact, our only gripe relates to the climate controls. Adjusting these involves faffing around with a touchscreen, set low down under the main infotainment screen. Because you have to hit small icons, instead of physical buttons that you can find by feel, you have to look away from the road simply to change the temperature. The climate control buttons in the BMW X5 and BMW X7 are mainly physical, so they're less distracting.
The Audi Virtual Cockpit set-up is fitted as standard, and swaps conventional analogue instrument dials for one giant, 12.3in digital panel that sits behind the steering wheel. This can display speed, revs and other driving essentials alongside a full-screen sat-nav map, phone or audio information.
Visibility, parking sensors and cameras
As is the case in most big SUVs, you sit up high in the Q7 for a commanding view of the road ahead, and the relatively slim windscreen pillars do little to obstruct your vision at junctions.
Large, heated door mirrors offer a clear view of what’s approaching from the side, and the left-hand mirror tilts down automatically when you select reverse for a better view of the kerb when parking. Powerful LED headlights are standard on all Q7s, and they can stay on main beams without dazzling other drivers.
Thick rear pillars and the rear headrests block much of your over-the-shoulder view, especially when people are sitting in the third row of seats. Yet with a rear-view camera and front and rear parking sensors standard on all trims, you shouldn't find reversing too much of an issue. A 360-degree camera comes as standard if you go for range-topping Vorsprung trim.
Sat nav and infotainment
The infotainment system in the Q7 was overhauled during a facelift in 2019. "That's good news," you might be thinking. Hmm, sadly not. The current system is actually a backwards step when it comes to usability.
You see, the Q7 now has a touchscreen rather than the separate rotary controller interface that it used previously and, like the climate control screen, it can be rather distracting to use while you're driving. At least the 10.1in display responds quickly to presses and gives you haptic feedback to confirm when a selection is made.
It’s better than the infotainment system you get in the Volvo XC90 but the BMW X5 and X7, and the Mercedes GLE are ahead when it comes to usability because they both feature separate controllers and shortcut buttons. All trim levels come with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone mirroring, a natural speech voice recognition system (which allows you to bypass the touchscreen for some functions), wireless phone-charging and a 10-speaker sound system. Premium stereo upgrades are available for you audiophiles out there.
The Q7’s interior is a universe of soft-touch materials, glossy black veneers and smart brushed metal trims, along with well-damped, precision switches and some multi-coloured ambient lighting. Any lower-grade plastics are confined to places where you won’t see or feel them as a matter of course, which isn’t something we'd say about the Mercedes GLE.
In short, the Q7 feels incredibly well screwed together, with tight gaps between the exterior body panels and interior trims. All things considered, the Q7 is classier inside than nearly all its direct rivals, including the XC90 – the exception being the slightly pricier BMW X7.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
Even those well over six-feet tall will find the Audi Q7 roomy in the front. Head room is very generous and the seats slide back a long way to deliver lots of leg room. It's wide inside, too, so there’s loads of elbow room.
The large door bins will each take a 1.5-litre bottle, and there are two cupholders next to the gear selector. Under the front centre armrest, you’ll find another cubby with a protective rubber tray that makes it an ideal place for stowing your mobile phone.
Meanwhile, the glovebox is big enough to hold bulkier objects, such as a can of de-icer or a window scraper.
Getting in and out of the second-row seats is easy, thanks to large rear door openings and slim sills. The Q7 offers a few centimetres more leg room than the BMW X5 and Land Rover Discovery and virtually matches that of the Volvo XC90. That means tall adults have plenty of space for their knees, and there's a generous amount of head room too. There’s also enough shoulder room for three adults to sit side by side comfortably.
Tall adults won't want to sit in the two third-row seats on long trips, but anyone under six feet won’t feel ridiculously cramped. Sitting right at the back of a Q7 is certainly a more pleasant experience than it would be in, for example, an X5 or a Mercedes GLE. The Discovery and BMW X7 are better choices if you regularly need to carry seven adults, though.
The Q7 is one of the very few cars on sale with six Isofix seat mounts, so it's a seriously child-friendly choice.
Seat folding and flexibility
All three second-row seats slide backwards and forwards independently and have reclining backrests. The outer two seats tumble forwards pretty easily to allow access to the third-row seats.
If you need extra luggage space, the second-row seat backrests can be folded down in one simple operation using a lever at the base of each seat. They fold independently of each other, so you have the flexibility to carry long loads while still carrying rear passengers.
Meanwhile, the two third-row seats lie flush with the boot floor when folded away. They are raised or lowered individually at the touch of a button using controls placed just inside the rear doors as well as inside the boot itself.
In five-seat mode, even with the second row of seats slid fully back, the boot is big enough to take 10 carry-on suitcases or a couple of buggies below the tonneau cover. There are four lashing eyes, plus a small cubby on the left-hand side.
With all seven seats in place, the boot shrinks to less than half its size but will still hold a couple of carry-on cases. In this arrangement, you'll fit more luggage in the Q7 than you would in the Land Rover Discovery.
If you fold down all five rear seats, you’re left with a vast space and a flat extended load area. This makes loading bulky items a piece of cake, especially as there’s no lip at the boot entrance. All Q7s have an electric tailgate.
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Costs, insurance groups, MPG and CO2
The regular diesel Audi Q7 is priced slightly above the Volvo XC90 but is considerably cheaper than the Range Rover Sport and BMW X7. Sizeable discounts are often available via our New Car Deals service or by haggling with your dealer directly, and resale values for the Q7 are strong, comparing well with those of most other premium-badged luxury SUVs.
CO2 emissions of the petrol and diesel versions were higher than some rivals, but almost all luxury SUVs are in the same top 37% benefit-in-kind (BIK) company car tax bracket – unless you opt for a plug-in hybrid (PHEV). Audi no longer offers a PHEV version of the Q7 though.
Insurance costs are a little higher than average, but the Q7 is relatively affordable to service, thanks to long service intervals and Audi’s fixed-priced deals.
Equipment, options and extras
Every Q7 is well equipped, so even entry-level Sport trim shouldn't be dismissed. You'll find most of the features you'd expect from a car in this price bracket, including 19in alloy wheels, power-folding door mirrors, dual-zone climate control, part-leather seats (heated in the front), cruise control and keyless start.
The jump in cost to S line is substantial but gets you sportier styling, 20in alloy wheels, tinted windows and more figure-hugging seats trimmed in genuine leather. It’s our pick of the range.
However, if you want even more luxuries, Black Edition adds four-zone climate control (allowing rear-seat passengers to dial in a different temperature from those in the front) and 21in alloys, while the range-topping Vorsprung brings gigantic 22in wheels, soft-closing doors, heated rear seats and keyless entry.
The Q7 was one of the best-performing luxury SUVs in the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey proving more dependable than the XC90 and Discovery. However, Audi as a brand didn't put up a particularly good showing, finishing in 21st place out of 32 manufacturers. That's below BMW but above Land Rover and Mercedes.
All versions of the Q7 come with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty as standard. For a fee, Audi will extend the warranty for up to five years or 90,000 miles, but you have to buy this when you order the car new – it can't be applied retrospectively. If you don't order it and decide subsequently that you want a warranty beyond the first three years, it’ll be a less comprehensive used car warranty rather than an extended manufacturer's warranty.
Safety and security
All versions of the Q7 come with plenty of active safety equipment to help prevent a crash, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), which alerts you to potential frontal collisions with cars or pedestrians and applies the brakes if necessary. You also get lane-departure warning and a camera that reads speed limit signs and displays them on the dashboard.
The optional City Assist pack (which comes as standard on Vorsprung models) adds various other active safety technology, including blind-spot monitoring (Side Assist in Audi speak).
Euro NCAP awarded the Q7 its full five-star rating for overall safety in 2019. A closer look at the scores reveals that the Q7 is slightly better for adult occupant crash protection than the BMW X5 and similar to the Land Rover Discovery, but with slightly worse chest protection and better protection against whiplash. The Q7 is noticeably better at protecting child occupants than the Discovery and slightly better than the X5.
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Our favourite engine for the Q7 is the 3.0-litre petrol (badged 55 TFSI) which has gutsy acceleration and good refinement. We recommend S line trim.
|RRP price range||£66,215 - £108,230|
|Number of trims (see all)||5|
|Number of engines (see all)||4|
|Available fuel types (which is best for you?)||diesel, petrol|
|MPG range across all versions||22.6 - 35.3|
|Available doors options||5|
|Warranty||3 years / 60000 miles|
|Company car tax at 20% (min/max)||£4,780 / £7,812|
|Company car tax at 40% (min/max)||£9,560 / £15,624|