Used test: Audi SQ7 vs BMW X6 vs Range Rover Velar
The Range Rover Velar may have star-studded looks, but is a used V6 diesel version better than its luxury SUV rivals from Audi and BMW?...
What are they like inside?
Naturally, these large SUVs all provide you with a suitably lofty view of the road ahead, but there are key differences in how comfortable and confident they make you feel.
All three have front electric seats and the X6 and Velar even have electrically adjustable steering columns (an option on the SQ7). Most drivers will find it easiest to get comfortable in the Velar, though; its driver’s seat has plenty of lower back and under-thigh support and its pedals line up neatly with the seat.
Disappointingly, the X6 is the only one to miss out on adjustable lumbar support (although it could have been added as an option), so expect lower back support to be less than ideal unless you find one with it. On the plus side, the seats in both German cars have bigger side bolsters than the Velar’s, so they hold you in place more effectively when cornering.
Unlike the boxier full-sized Range Rover and Sport models, the Velar’s driving position is slightly lower relative to its window line. However, forward visibility is still very good, with slim pillars and deep windows ensuring roundabouts and junctions can be tackled confidently. The view behind is more obstructed, mainly by those thick rear pillars and that rising window line.
Like the Velar, the X6’s forward view is generous, but its pinched rear end hurts over-the-shoulder visibility. The SQ7’s more uniform roofline front to back means a better view out in all directions. Happily, all three cars came with rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera as standard to help with reversing.
When spending this sort of money, a luxurious, high-quality interior should be expected. In this regard, Audi is the best in the business and the SQ7 is one of the company’s best efforts to date. Dense, soft-touch plastics dominate the dashboard and slick chrome accents help create a wonderfully classy ambience inside, while well-damped knobs and switches bring a reassuring air of quality.
An 8.3in colour infotainment screen is standard and is controlled using a rotary dial and a selection of shortcut buttons between the front seats. Navigating the various menus is a doddle and the on-screen graphics are super-crisp. There were two optional sound systems available when new: a Bose system, or a Bang & Olufsen one – but the standard system is more than punchy enough.
The Velar isn’t far behind, especially with our test car’s optional Extended Leather Pack, which wraps its dashboard top, instrument binnacle and door tops in sumptuous material. It isn’t all for show, though, because the Velar’s interior feels solidly constructed. Only a few bits of scratchy plastic lower down on the dashboard, doors and around the front centre armrest seem out of place in such a pricey car.
However, the Velar does get not one but two 10.0in touchscreens. The first, on the face of the dashboard, controls infotainment features and its angle can be adjusted. The second screen below takes care of driving modes and climate control. Both display crisp graphics and react reasonably quickly, but many of the icons are small and hard to hit accurately. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring aren’t available, either.
As the oldest design here, it’s perhaps no surprise that the X6 feels the least luxurious inside, but this facelifted version is within striking distance of the others. There’s a pleasing amount of leather on the dashboard and doors, along with classy silver accents, but the cheaper-feeling plastics lower down and a few flimsy switches stand out.
The X6’s iDrive system has a similar rotary dial and menu shortcut set-up to the SQ7’s, but you get a larger 10.3in screen. Moreover, it’s even easier to use than the Audi system because the menus are slightly more logical – handy when you’re in a rush or on the move. Wireless charging was an option when new (although not all phones were compatible).
The Velar has the narrowest interior but, even so, two adults won’t feel at all hemmed in up front and they won’t want for head room, either. However, really lanky drivers might find their seat doesn’t slide back far enough on its runners. The X6 and SQ7 offer even more front leg room.
Our X6 test car was fitted with an optional sunroof, which reduced front head room to the extent that the X6 was the worst of the three, although a couple of tall adults sitting in the front won’t exactly be cowering.
Adults sitting in the back are unlikely to have an issue with head room in any of our contenders, although the SQ7 has the highest ceiling and the X6 the lowest. Mind you, the X6 actually has the most rear leg room – even with the SQ7’s sliding rear seats (a unique feature in this company) pushed all the way back. However, only in the Velar are taller adults likely to find their knees resting against the back of the front seats, especially if someone similarly lofty is sitting in front. The Velar and SQ7’s rear seatbacks can be reclined to different positions – the Velar’s electrically, the SQ7’s manually – whereas the X6’s are fixed in place.
Unlike the other two cars, the SQ7 has a third row of seats that rise electrically from the boot floor. Two adults will just about fit in them, although they’re really best left for kids unless the journey is short. To gain access to its rearmost row, the SQ7’s middle row can be tumbled forward manually. All three cars come with split-folding rear (middle-row in the SQ7) seats that divide in a practical 40/20/40 configuration.
With its rearmost seats folded away, the SQ7’s boot is biggest. It’s the longest, widest and tallest and is a practical shape from front to back. That’s not to say the X6’s boot is a poor effort; it’s a similarly practical shape and, in our carry-on suitcase test, managed to swallow nine cases (the same as the SQ7) beneath the parcel shelf – albeit with one case beneath the boot floor in the generous underfloor storage area. That said, the X6’s boot does have the narrowest opening and the most pronounced lip at its entrance.
Trailing in third place for boot space is the Velar. Its load bay is actually slightly longer than the X6’s but is narrower and shallower, making a difference in our carry-on suitcase test. We managed to squeeze in just seven cases – one fewer than in a Seat Ateca.
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