What's the used Audi Q7 4x4 like?
When the original seven-seat Audi Q7 was introduced in 2006, we praised it for its solid build quality and desirability - after all, who wouldn’t want a premium badge on their large SUV? However, its driving experience left us feeling a bit short-changed, as did its rather firm ride and shortage of room in the third row of seats.
But this second-generation Q7 built on all the good points of its predecessor, addressed its issues and was better to drive, more comfortable and noticeably more spacious. The Q7 was revised even further for 2019, with a facelift introducing styling tweaks such as a redesigned grille, front and rear bumpers, new side sills, chrome trim for the tailgate and revised exhaust tips. On top of that, all versions were given mild hybrid assistance, allowing the engine to switch itself off when decelerating in order to reduce fuel consumption.
The Q7 offers several engine options. Initially, there were two versions of the 3.0-litre TDI diesel, the 218 and the 272, and both offer plenty of oomph. There’s also a plug-in hybrid e-tron version, which, despite its eco-focus and additional weight of the batteries, feels even quicker when the batteries are charged, thanks to the instant torque the electric motors provide. All of these models feel slow in comparison to the mighty SQ7, however, with its 4.0-litre V8 diesel engine - although we’d argue that it is a bit excessive for family duties. Later models from 2019 onwards featured the same 3.0-litre diesel with 228bhp and 282bhp, now known as the 45 TDI and the 50 TDI, and a 55 TFSI petrol version.
There are two trim levels on the earlier cars, SE and S line. Both are handsomely equipped. The cheaper of the two trims, SE, comes with sat-nav, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control and xenon headlights. S line brings more aggressive styling and larger 20in alloy wheels that do nothing for the ride comfort. The e-tron and SQ7 come in their own bespoke trim levels. Post-facelift 2019 onwards models became Sport and S line, with additional Black Edition and Vorsprung trims thrown in for good measure. These costly trims added cosmetic updates and most of the conceivable luxuries you could want or need.
It comes as standard with four-wheel drive, so there’s plenty of traction. 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 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 seek out a car equipped with the optional air suspension if buying an earlier 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. Post-facelift cars come with the air suspension as standard, and all of them ride brilliantly. However, go for Black Edition or Vorsprung trim and you'll get a 'sports' air suspension system instead. Given that this drops the Q7 15mm closer to the road, it shouldn't come as a surprise that bumps aren't smothered quite as well.
The interior features an excellent driving position with a fully electrically adjustable steering wheel and seat, and visibility is commanding. There's a brilliant infotainment system, at least on the earlier cars - the MMI infotainment is second only to BMW’s iDrive for ease of use, so pairing phones or programming the sat-nav is a doddle. A high-definition 8.3in screen rises from the top of the dashboard and is controlled using buttons and a simple rotary controller on the centre console. A touchpad next to them is also standard, allowing you to handwrite instructions, such as when programming an address into the sat-nav. However, post-facelift models switched to a fiddlier touchscreen arrangement - still good, but not as easy to control as the earlier one.
There's a healthy dose of luxury to the interior. It’s really an impressively refined place to be and is supremely well made. The Q7’s dashboard and interior at large is a smorgasbord of soft-touch materials and well-damped switches; any harder plastics are kept to less noticeable places. Real metal (or wood, if you prefer) inlays only add to the wonderfully classy ambience.
Even those well over six feet tall will find the Q7 roomy in the front; head room is very generous, the seat slides back a long way to deliver lots of leg room and there’s loads of elbow room. Getting in and out of the second-row seats is easy, thanks to large door apertures 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. Really tall adults will want to sit in the two rearmost seats for short trips only, but anyone under six feet won’t feel too cramped. They’re certainly roomier than the third-row seats in the BMW X5 and Mercedes GLE. A Discovery or a BMW X7 is a better bet if you regularly need to carry seven adults, though.
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