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Future models - Audi - Q7

Detroit show: Audi squares off with new Q7

Seventh heaven: Audi’s Q7 takes a different direction for its second iteration, with the big SUV losing its curves for a sharper look.

Second-gen Audi Q7 shrinks and gains fuel efficient powertrains including PHEV

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Audi logo15 Dec 2014

AUDI has whipped the covers off its long-awaited second-generation Q7 SUV, revealing a smaller, lighter and more efficient version of its wildly popular family hauler.

The Q7 will arrive in Australian showrooms in the second half of 2015 in five- and seven-seat guise, while the headlining diesel-electric plug-in hybrid variant that will go head-to-head with Volvo’s electrified XC90, should lob shortly after.

Based on the second-generation version of Volkswagen Group’s modular longitudinal (MLB) platform, the 2015 Q7 weighs in at 1995kg, or a hefty 325kg less than the model it replaces, which Audi says is about “the equivalent of a concert grand piano”.

Audi has cut the fat in a number of areas, with lightweight construction used in all areas, including the body structure which uses multi-material design, while a lighter electrical system and even a lighter cargo area floor have had an impact.

Increased use of aluminium for the castings and panels have also kept the Q7’s weight down.

The new-gen Q7 measures 37mm shorter, 15mm narrower and about the same heights as the outgoing model, but Audi says the cabin dimensions have grown, with headroom up by 41mm and 23mm in the front two rows respectively, while the space between the first and second row has grown by 21mm.

On the styling front, the Q7 looks less hulking than the current model and features a more station wagon-like design.

At the front, styling cues seen on the recently revealed Q3 facelift are evident, including thicker chrome accents surrounding the updated single-frame grille, while the headlights – Xenon, LED or Matrix LED depending on the grade – are similar to the units from the refreshed A6 that was unveiled in October.

Immediately noticeable is how much sharper the design is compared with the eight-year-old current model, with all of the curves replaced with a more angular look, particularly at the rear with the squared-off tailgate.

Chunky wheel arches remain, and Audi will offer the Q7 with trim strips and side skirts in a matte aluminium finish, while the optional S line exterior package adds a different look for the bumpers, air intakes, roof spoiler and diffuser as well as a dark grey finish for the grille.

The cabin is all-new with fewer buttons than the old model, while an airvent strip runs the length of the passenger side dash.

A 12.3-inch TFT display takes over the instrument panel, and Audi’s latest generation MMI (multimedia interface) which includes haptic feedback via a touchpad allows users to pinch and use gestures with their fingers to scroll through lists or pinpoint areas on a map.

The 7.0-inch colour display shows audio and other information (an 8.3-inch unit is an option) and Audi says its voice control system is simpler in the second-gen Q7.

For entertainment in the second row, Audi offers a pair of 10.1-inch tablets that fit to the rear of the front seats that can be connected to the internet via wi-fi.

The Q7's cargo-bay offers 295 litres of space with all three rows of seating in place, rising to 770L with the third row folded, 890L for the five-seat version and 2075L with the second row folded.

The Q7 maintains its reputation as a capable hauler with a 3500kg braked towing capacity.

Two powertrains that meet the strict Euro 6 emissions standard have been confirmed from launch in Europe including a 3.0-litre V6 TDI turbo-diesel producing 200kW/600Nm for a zero to 100km/h dash time of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 234km/h.

Fuel economy has improved, with Audi claiming a combined cycle figure of 5.7 litres per 100 kilometres, a big improvement over the 7.8L/100km economy rating for the current oiler. Emissions are also down to 149g/km.

The 3.0-litre V6 TFSI pushes out 245kW/440Nm for a 6.1-second 0-100km/h time and 250km/h top speed, while fuel use is 7.7L/100km, a massive drop from 10.7L/100km. CO2 emissions are rated at 179g/km.

A 2.0-litre 185kW/370Nm TFSI petrol unit is planned for Asia and the United States, while a less powerful 160kW/500Nm 3.0-litre diesel is planned for a later date. No fuel or performance figures have been released for either powertrain.

The star of the Q7’s powertrain line-up is the e-tron quattro plug-in hybrid diesel V6 combined with an electric motor for an overall output of 275kW/700Nm.

The plug-in uses as little as 1.7L/100km of diesel, emits less than 50g/km of CO2, and can race from 0-100km/h in 6.0 seconds onto a top speed of 225km/h.

Mitsubishi’s smaller Outlander PHEV has an official fuel figure of 1.9L/100km, while Volvo is yet to confirm figures for the plug-in XC90, due in Australia next year.

All Q7s will use a new eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission, sending power to Audi’s quattro permanent all-wheel drive system, and the German car-maker will offer an optional all-wheel steering system.

Its centre differential distributes power between the front and rear in a 40:60 ratio, but it can transfer up to 70 per cent of power to the front and 85 per cent to the rear if the wheels on one of the axles loses grip.

Safety items include a rear parking aid, cruise control, speed limiter fatigue warning, and Audi’s ‘pre sense city’ safety system that warns the driver of a potential collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian and applies the brakes accordingly.

Adaptive cruise control, a cross-traffic alert, trailer assistant, lane assist, rear collision warning and various other safety systems are available as options through a number of safety packages.

While pricing is some way off, the current Q7 starts from $90,500, plus on-road costs for the 3.0-litre diesel and rises to $129,300 for the more powerful 4.2-litre TDI.

The Q7 will face tough competition in Australia when it lobs, with BMW’s ever-popular X5 still the top pick for premium SUVs, and the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Sport both doing big business this year.

Volvo’s highly anticipated XC90 arrives mid-year as well and looks set to shake up the high-end high-riders with a flagship PHEV variant arriving before the end of 2015.

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