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Used test: Audi Q7 vs Lexus RX
Buy used and you can have either of these luxury SUVs for around half what they cost new, but should you choose the seven-seat Audi Q7 or the hybrid Lexus RX?...
Audi Q7 3.0 TDI 218 SE
List price when new £47,755
Price today £25,000
Available from 2015-present
A top-tier luxury SUV, but can an entry-level version compete with the RX?
Lexus RX 450h Luxury
List price when new £49,995
Price today £25,000
Available from 2016-present
The RX offers its opulence with petrol-electric hybrid power.
*Price today is based on a 2016 model with average mileage and full service history, correct at time of writing
While hybrid luxury SUVs seem about as commonplace as coffee shops nowadays, they were much less so six years ago. Your choices were limited to cars like this one, the Lexus RX 450h. It combined petrol and electric power with the aim of besting the diesel-centric status quo of the time.
The Audi Q7 belonged to said status quo, but even today it's about as polished, comfortable and refined as they come. And regardless of whether hybrid or diesel works better for you, those factors are of prime importance in this class. The same can be said for practicality, because with such size should yield multitudes of interior space.
So, can the RX outdo the plushness and space of the Q7, all the while proving its hybrid set-up to be superior? We've brought along six-year-old versions of each – making them half priced heroes – to find out.
Performance, ride, handling, refinement
The hybrid Lexus combines a V6 petrol engine with electric motors to give a combined 308bhp. That makes the 215bhp on offer from the V6 diesel Audi seem rather tame, but the Q7 is actually the quicker car – and by a fair margin. A small amount of pressure on its right pedal will waft you up to speed swiftly with barely any increase in engine revs. If you really put your foot down, it’ll get you to 60mph almost a second quicker than the RX.
In contrast, anything other than gentle acceleration in the RX causes the revs of its petrol engine to soar suddenly and stay high until you’re up to speed. The drone is never unbearable, but it means the RX is considerably less refined than the whisper-quiet Q7. The Q7 also isolates you much better from road and wind noise at motorway speeds.
Anyone who’s driven a Porsche Cayenne down a winding country lane won’t find anything to get excited about here. You can feel every ounce of the two-tonne kerb weights of both the Q7 and the RX. Neither of them appreciates being asked to change direction quickly, although the Q7 sways about less and has more direct, confidence-inspiring steering.
The Q7 also came with optional (£2000 from new) air suspension, on which it delivers a properly cushioned ride, particularly at motorway speeds, where it lopes along in a relaxed fashion, making long journeys positively fly by. Hit a pothole around town and there’s an occasional thud from the suspension, but the Q7 is otherwise more settled and composed than the RX at low speeds too.
Wider experience of the Q7 line-up suggests the air suspension is worth paying for, although the standard suspension still provides a perfectly comfortable ride.
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