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Car reviews - Audi - Q7 - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

Audi logo15 Sep 2006

By CHRIS HARRIS

PETROL price shocks and interest rate rises have had little effect on Audi’s new off-road entrant, the Q7.

Half of the 650 Audi Q7s allocated to Australia this year have already been snapped up by eager buyers, even before the car went on sale this week.

As the long-awaited Q7 SUV touches down here following its European and US release, Audi is forecasting the strong local interest to be maintained.

Already production has been increased from 40,000 this year to 60,000 globally.

Audi Australia managing director, Joerg Hofmann, said he believed the Q7 was ideal for the Australian market, a point leveraged by Audi’s trans-continental launch drive from Sydney to Broome for the luxury off-roader.

"Even though 90 per cent of driving will be done in the urban jungle it’s good to be able to get this car out into the country," he said.

"It is a key product for us.

"It will be a strong seller and a clear image leader for Audi in Australia."

Despite strong overseas demand, Mr Hofmann is confident Audi Australia will be able to meet demand locally for the Slovakian-built SUV.

The Q7 will go head-to-head against the BMW X5, Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz M-class and R-class, as well as the Volkswagen Touareg, with which the Q7 shares 15 per cent of its hardware.

The three-model line-up includes two V6s and the range-topping 4.2-litre FSI V8.

Mr Hofmann said a 240kW/650Nm 4.2-litre TDI version, using the same engine as the A8, will arrive late next year.

Visually the Q7 has a bigger footprint than its Euro-rivals and adopts specific Audi styling cues, like the deep Audi corporate grille.

The designers have made use of some clever styling tricks that reduce the car’s visual bulk, namely the sloping rear roof-line and rising lower plastic door panelling.

The rear is dominated by a wide-opening sculptured hatch, incorporating jewelled tail-lights with the dual exhausts exiting at bumper level.

Inside the cabin is clearly borrows elements from the A6/A8.

All Q7s are mated to six-speed tiptronic transmissions and quattro four-wheel drive with asymmetric torque split with 40/60 torque split between front and rear axles for sportier, slightly rear-biased characteristics.

In extreme conditions up to 65 per cent of drive can be directed to the front wheels, or up to 85 per cent to the rear.

Like the upcoming BMW X5 the Q7 will be available as a seven-seater, with five-seats standard. A six and seven-seater are optional, with a capacious luggage capacity of 2035 litres.

Mr Hofmann said that most buyers were opting for the seven-seater option at $1700, with a 70 per cent preference for the 3.0-litre TDI.

The standard car is a five-seater with six-seats being a $3250 option.

When not in use, the third row can be folded flat into the luggage floor.

All four wheels are suspended by a double wishbone system, using high-strength aluminium components.

The front steel-spring suspension and twin-tube shock absorbers, adapted from the Touareg, is designed for sporty driving and comfort.

The rear double wishbone suspension is an Audi design with separate upper control arms and track rod. Its compact height is designed to allow for the car’s seven-seater capacity.

As expected of its luxury off-road credentials, equipment levels are high.

The Q7 has eight airbags, 18-inch alloys, reach and height adjustable steering, ESP, quattro all-wheel drive, aluminium roof rails, front and rear parking assist with rear camera, four 12-volt outlets, heated exterior mirrors, front and rear foglights, full-size spare wheel, remote central locking, cruise control, 11-speaker stereo with CD changer, trip computer, auto dimming interior mirror, aluminium dash highlights, Cricket leather upholstery, multi-media interface control with colour monitor, multi-function steering wheel and luggage cover and net.

The V8 also has an electric-powered rear hatch, electric front seats and steering wheel, adaptive Xenon headlights, air suspension (a $5750 option on the V6s) which lowers the body at speed to improve aerodynamics.

Powering the entry model is a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine that develops 206kW at 6200rpm and 360Nm from 2500rpm to 5000rpm. This gives the car a zero to 100km/h sprint time of 8.5 seconds and top speed of 225km/h. Economy is 12.7L/100km combined.

It will be available from November.

Apart from the petrol V6, Audi will also offer a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel.

The 3.0-litre TDI uses the latest-generation common-rail injection system with piezo injectors.

It develops 171kW at 4000rpm and 500Nm between 1750rpm and 2750rpm, endowing the car with a zero to 100km/h time of 9.1 seconds and top speed of 210km/h in the standard car and 216km/h with air suspension. Economy is 10.5L/100km combined.

The range-topper is the 4.2-litre FSI V8, a close relative to the engine in the RS4.

The V8 develops 257kW at 6800rpm and 440Nm at 3500rpm.

The Q7 V8 will hit 100km/h in 7.4 seconds and has a top speed of 248km/h.

With the adaptive air suspension, ground clearance can vary from 180mm up to 240mm in extreme "lift" mode for negotiating extreme obstacles. The off-road mode, with 205mm ground clearance and adapted damper control.

Audi claims the Q7 will tackle the most challenging terrain, with a 31 degree climbing capacity, 500mm wading depth (535mm air suspension) and ramp angles of 21 degrees (24 degrees air suspension).

The car’s ESP system has several new functions, including hill descent assist as well as a special off-road mode that optimises brake performance and traction on loose ground.

The Q7’s six-speed tiptronic transmission comes with a sport mode as standard as well as a dynamic shift program, which adapts to suit the driver’s style and prevailing road conditions.

At 5086mm long, 1983mm wide, 1737mm high and sitting on a 3002mm wheelbase, the Q7 dwarfs some of its competitors and Audi claims it offers 28 different seating and load configurations.

By comparison the mother of all off-roaders, Toyota’s LandCruiser, is 4890mm long, 1940mm wide and 1890 high and sits on a 2850mm wheelbase.

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