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Used test: Audi Q7 vs BMW X7
Buy either the Audi Q7 or BMW X7 at just a year old and you'll save more than £14,000. But which one should you go for? We have the answer...
Audi Q7 50 TDI Vorsprung
List price when new £80,915
Price today £55,000*
Available from 2015-present
Is our favourite used luxury SUV still the king in its top-spec Vorsprung trim?
BMW X7 xDrive30d M Sport
List price when new £74,815
Price today £61,000*
Available from 2019-present
The X7 has more luxury, more space and more tech than any other seven-seater.
*Price today is based on a 2019 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
There is a distinction between making an entrance and making an impression, but no one seems to have passed the message on to BMW. When the firm launched its new premium seven-seat luxury SUV, the X7, in 2019, it was obviously eager for it to stand out from the crowd, and so it gave the already gargantuan car a grille so large you can actually see it from the moon.
Happily, there is more to the car than just the way it looks. It was at once hailed as remarkably refined, incredibly spacious and desperately comfortable. The only trouble was that to buy one new cost a vast amount of money, but the good news is you can now pick up a one-year-old example and save yourself enough money to buy a new Mini with the difference.
Here, we’re pitching it against an Audi Q7, our reigning used luxury SUV of the year. Can the outlandishly styled X7 cut it against the hugely popular Q7, tested here in top-spec Vorsprung trim and also at 12 months old? Which one makes better sense when bought used? We have the answer...
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
On paper, the Q7 and X7 are pretty evenly matched. Both weigh more than two tonnes, are powered by a six-cylinder 3.0-litre diesel engine and use an eight-speed automatic gearbox. So you can imagine our surprise when the Q7 clocked a 0-60mph time of just 6.3sec, versus a still respectable but less exciting 7.5sec from the X7.
However, you don’t buy one of these cars for the traffic light grand prix. You buy one for effortless motoring, and that’s where the X7 carves out an early lead. Put your foot down at the same time in both cars and you’ll find that the X7’s gearbox is quicker to react, shuffling down a handful of ratios in an instant and enabling the car to surge forward. The Q7’s, meanwhile, is slow-witted and dithers for a second or two before choosing a gear – and this is hugely frustrating if you want to pounce on a gap in the traffic.
While the Q7 accelerates with more force, it’s also more vocal. The X7’s engine, on the other hand, is practically silent at a cruise, as well as being noticeably better at isolating you from its vibration. Factor in minimal wind noise and virtually no road noise (the Q7’s colossal 22in wheels create a bit of a roar) and the X7 is an ideal long-distance tourer.
But what if you drive more on British country roads than French autoroutes? Well, there’s no hiding the fact that the X7 is a fair bit bigger than the Q7, so it’s harder to place in town and on tight B-roads. And whereas the Q7 seems to shrink around you when you drive spiritedly, with its more accurate steering and tighter body control, the X7 always feels a little wallowy and top-heavy. We know handling isn’t a priority for most in this market, but it’s worth noting that the X7 isn’t the ‘ultimate driving machine’ you might be expecting.
At lower speeds, there’s little to separate the two cars. Even on the Vorsprung’s 22in wheels, the Q7 delivers a relatively smooth and comfortable ride along most urban roads, although it’s worth noting that the cheaper versions with their smaller rims are comfier still.
The X7 isn’t all that far behind; potholes and the like send small but noticeable shivers through its body, but then its suspension conducts its business in a quieter manner than the Q7’s. The two are similarly smooth on the motorway, and overall among the most comfortable luxury SUVs.
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