Audi Q7 4x4 performance
Even the less powerful of the two 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines delivers smooth and gutsy acceleration. Mind you, the 268bhp version isn’t that much more expensive and is much punchier, particularly at low revs. Acceleration builds strongly from just 1500rpm, making the Q7 effortless to drive briskly. Around town, you barely need to brush the accelerator pedal.
Despite the eco-focus and additional weight of the batteries, the Q7 e-tron has similar performance to the 268bhp diesel. If anything, it feels even quicker when the batteries are charged, thanks to the instant oomph provided by the electric motor. But both feel slow next to the mighty V8-powered SQ7, though; the way this range-topping model builds speed frankly has to be experienced to be believed.
The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox kicks down smartly if you floor the accelerator and changes up quickly through the gears.
Audi Q7 4x4 ride
The standard suspension is a touch firm around town, but at high speed the ride only jars if you hit a particularly sharp bump. We'd still recommend you upgrade to the optional air suspension if buying SE or S line trim (or the e-tron), though, because this transforms the Q7 into not only the best-riding car in its class but one of the best in any class or budget period.
Black Edition and Vorsprung trims come with 'sports' air suspension as standard. We've yet to try this but, given that it lowers the ride height by 15mm, it isn't likely to deliver as comfortable a ride as the regular air suspension – especially since these models come with larger wheels, too.
The SQ7 also has a form of air suspension as standard, but it’s a bespoke S set-up that's firmer again. Even at speed, you’ll feel a little more disturbance as surface imperfections transmit up through to your seat. The SQ7 is still more comfortable than most other seven-seat SUVs, but it isn't the best choice if comfort is your top priority.
Audi Q7 4x4 handling
There’s plenty of grip and the four-wheel-drive system offers lots of traction on greasy roads but, compared with sportier rivals, such as the BMW X5 or even the Volvo XC90, the Q7 isn't particularly entertaining to drive quickly.
The suspension allows quite a bit of body lean through corners, making the Q7 feel a bit ponderous and unwieldy, while the additional weight of the e-tron only exacerbates this. It’s still far more agile and better tied down than a Land Rover Discovery, though.
The SQ7 is an entirely different animal. It has a bespoke air suspension system and clever anti-roll bars that limit body lean. For such a big thing, it stays incredibly upright in corners, allowing you to cover ground at an astonishing speed. Meanwhile, the steering is accurate, even if it doesn't stream lots of feedback to your fingertips.
Audi Q7 4x4 refinement
Only when starting from cold do you hear a distant background clatter from the 3.0-litre diesels, but this quickly fades once they're up to temperature. Aside from that, you only really hear the engines under hard acceleration; even then, they’re smoother and more pleasant-sounding than the engines in any of the Q7’s rivals, but particularly the XC90. The Q7 also does a great job of isolating occupants from engine vibration.
Naturally, the e-tron is even more hushed when running in electric mode. When its diesel engine does kick in, it does so in a refined manner, with little vibration reaching you or your passengers. The SQ7 hides the fact it’s a diesel very well, too, emitting a muscular woofle – especially in Dynamic mode.
There’s no manual gearbox option; just an eight-speed auto that changes smoothly up and down through the ratios. At speed, if you back off the accelerator the gearbox disengages the engine and allows the Q7 to freewheel. It’s designed to benefit fuel consumption, but it reduces noise, too.
On 19in and 20in alloys, there’s very little road or suspension noise; even on the 21in wheels, the Q7 is pretty quiet. Wind noise is very well suppressed, even at motorway speeds.