1 Sep 2006
AUDI’S first foray into the full-blown SUV market was very late, coming to it when arch rivals Mercedes-Benz and BMW had either launched or were preparing to release their second-generation offerings.
In fact, the Q7 luxury 4WD wagon shared 15 per cent of its hardware with the contemporary Volkswagen Touareg and Porsche Cayenne.
The three-model launch line-up included two V6s – a 206kW/360Nm 3.6-litre petrol engine and a 171kW/500Nm 3.0-litre TDI turbo-diesel unit – and the range-topping 257kW/440Nm 4.2-litre FSI petrol V8.
All the Q7's launch engines were mated to six-speed Tiptronic transmissions and quattro four-wheel drive with a 40/60 asymmetric torque split between the front and rear axles for sportier, slightly rear-biased characteristics. All four wheels were suspended by a double wishbone system.
Seating configurations were numerous, with five (standard) six and seven-seater availability, while maximum luggage capacity was 2035 litres.
With the optional adaptive air suspension, ground clearance could vary from 180mm up to 240mm. The Q7 offered a 31-degree climbing capacity, 500mm wading depth (535mm with the optional air suspension jacked up to maximum) and ramp angles of 21 degrees (24 degrees with air suspension).
The car’s stability control system had several new functions, including hill descent assist as well as a special off-road mode that optimised brake performance and traction on loose ground.
With the local release of the Q7 4.2 TDI in December 2007, Audi reclaimed the title of Australia’s most powerful diesel SUV.
The new king of the big but popular Q7 all-wheel drive wagon range was powered by the same 240kW/760Nm 4.2-litre twin-turbo diesel V8 that lurked under the contemporary A8 4.2 TDI quattro limousine’s bonnet.
With peak torque on tap from 1800rpm, the 5.1-metre Q7 flagship could blast to 100km/h in a claimed 6.4 seconds and on to a claimed top speed of 236km/h.
November 2009 saw yet another diesel development for the Q7 in the shape of the 6.0-litre V12 TDI, which was claimed to be the first series-production vehicle to be fitted with a V12 diesel engineSupplied by what was claimed to be the world’s first 2000-bar common-rail fuel system and 2.7-bar of boost pressure from each turbocharger, the 60-degree 6.0-litre V12 unleashed 368kW of power at 3750rpm and a staggering 1000Nm of torque between 1750 and 3000rpm.
More driveline changes arrived in September 2010, the Q7’s outgoing 3.6-litre V6 and 4.2-litre V8 petrol models dropped in favour a single 245kW 3.0-litre supercharged V6 with direct injection.
The mid-range Q7 3.0 TFSI’s blown V6 matched the 440Nm torque output of the petrol V8 in the discontinued 4.2 FSI and was just 12kW down in the power stakes. Nevertheless, acceleration to 100km/h was down from 7.4 seconds to 6.9 seconds and fuel consumption dropped considerably from 13.3 to 10.7L/100km.
The 3.0-litre V6 TDI variant's engine improvements over its predecessor included reduced internal friction, a more accurate 2000-bar diesel injection system and idle-stop functionality, making it Audi’s first automatic model to have this feature.
The 3.0-litre diesel trimmed a whole second from the previous model’s 0-100km/h sprint, to a sporty 7.9 seconds. Engine weight was down 20kg and power up 5kW to 176kW, with torque leaping from 500 to 550Nm.
Fuel consumption was down a big 19 per cent, from 10.4 to 7.9L/100km, with the CO2 figure dropping from 239 to 205g/km.
The 4.2-litre V8 TDI also gained a 2000-bar injection system and was worked over to reduce friction, resulting in a seven per cent improvement in fuel consumption - down from 11.1 to 9.2L/100km.
It maintained its 250kW output and increases torque from an already-healthy 760Nm to a mighty 800Nm, a figure eclipsed by few vehicles in Australia other than some V12-engined AMG Mercedes-Benzes and Audi’s own Q7 V12 TDI, all of which punched out 1000Nm.
Again, Audi achieved an impressive drop in CO2 emissions with the revised unit emitting 242g/km against the previous version’s 317g/km.
All models bar the V12 TDI flagship, which remained unchanged, gained the eight-speed automatic gearbox that debuted with the 2010 A8 limo. Lower transmission losses and a wider spread of gear ratios contributed to the Q7’s improved acceleration and fuel consumption figures.