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Driven: Gen-2 Audi Q7 landing in September

Big player: Audi's largest model launches in its second-generation, bringing a host of luxury features and a significantly more frugal diesel engine.

Lighter, safer, more practical, Audi Q7 on sale next month from $103,900 BOCs


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7 Aug 2015

AUDI'S critical Q7 will muscle up for round two in Australia's fierce large luxury SUV market in September, bringing a dramatic weight reduction, more safety and driver assistance technology and a $103,900 price tag before on-road costs.

The second-generation seven-seater will arrive as a single variant – the 3.0 TDI Quattro – with a price increase of $12,400 over the outgoing comparable version. Thanks to more lightweight construction, the new Q7 has shed a significant 240kg, boosting fuel efficiency and performance.

In addition to the extensive use of lighter materials, the 2015 Q7 introduces a host of standard driver assistance systems such as autonomous braking for pedestrians and vehicles, parking assistance with 360-degree view, side assist and rear cross-traffic alert.

For those with a little extra budget, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, a head-up display, active lane assist, night vision and Matrix-beam LED headlights can all be added from the options list.

Audi claims the Q7's 3.0-litre V6 can use as little as little as 5.9 litres of diesel per 100km – a significant improvement of 3.2L/100km over the outgoing model – despite gaining 24kW and 50Nm over the previous version.

Now with 200kw and 600Nm on tap, the new Q7 can accelerate to 100km/h from standstill in 6.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 234km/h, compared with the 8.5 second dash of the first-generation 3.0 TDI.

An eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission is 20kg lighter than the previous auto and sends torque to all four wheels courtesy of Audi’s Haldex-based Quattro four-wheel drive system, while a new centre-differential replaces the transfer case.

Gear shifts are handled either by the auto program in Drive mode or via steering wheel paddles when the S manual mode has been selected.

The Quattro drive system sends 40 per cent of the available torque to the front axle under normal circumstances, but is capable of diverting 70 per cent to the front wheels or 85 per cent to the rear axle when required.

The first generation Q7 was offered in 3.0-litre petrol and diesel variants, as well as with a stonking V12 diesel. While the second-gen version is only offered as a V6 diesel for now, Audi is considering a more affordable 160kW version for release later in the model's lifecycle.

A plug-in diesel/electric hybrid version is also on the cards for Australia, and is due for arrival next year. A petrol/electric hybrid version previewed earlier this year appears to be confined to the Chinese market for now.

A large part of the new model's weight saving comes from a redesigned five-arm suspension system that replaces the previous double wishbone set-up, saving 100kg in the prcoess. Standard vehicles ride on traditional coil-sprung suspension, while $4,950 buys adaptive air suspension.

When fitted with the adaptive system, the Offroad setting raises the ride height by 25mm for speeds less than 80km/h, and an additonal 35mm in the Lift setting at speeds under 30km/h. While stationary, the suspension can be lowered 55mm for easier loading, while the body lowers itself 15mm at speeds between 120km/h and 160km/h for greater stability and lower air resistance.

Audi has debuted four-wheel steering with the Q7, enabling more maneuverability in tight spaces and greater stability at freeway speeds. It is a first for the SUV market.

Between 5km/h and 15km/h the rear wheels turn in the opposite to the front, reducing the turning circle to one that is smaller than that of a Q3. At speed, the rear wheels turn in the same direction as the fronts so the vehicle can change lanes without tuning on an axis.

Standard wheels measure 19 inches in diameter but can be upgraded to 20- or 21-inch versions with a wider tyre footprint and an increase in fuel use the largest and widest wheel takes consumption up 0.3 to 6.2L/100km.

Brake discs are a race car-like 375mm at the front and are matched to six-pot aluminium callipers, while the rear rotors are 350mm on the rear axle. The Q7's parking brake is electric and incorporates an auto function as well as hill-hold.

The weight-saving engineering has taken the Q7's overall weight to a shade over the two tonne mark with an unladen weight of 2060kg, and it has a braked towing capacity of 3500kg.

Headlining the Q7’s interior is the second outing of Audi's Virtual Cockpit display, which replaces all conventional gauges in the cluster with a 12.3-inch LCD screen. It displays a range of information including vehicle and engine speed, navigation, entertainment and other vehicle settings. First introduced in the driver-focused Audi TT sportscar, the Virtual Cockpit is supplemented by a second 8.3-inch retractable centre screen.

All Virtual Cockpit information can be accessed through steering wheel controls, while passengers negotiate the second screen via the glass MMI 'all-in-touch' pad, hot-keys and dial.

Audi's MMI system brings a variety of information and entertainment features including a DVD player, two SD card readers, solid-state hard-drive and connectivity via Bluetooth and two USB ports.

Audi Connect supports an internet connection with 100MBit/s download speeds, creating a Wi-Fi hotspot for occupants to connect a variety of devices to the web. Audi includes five online updates in the cost of the Q7.

A DVD changer and digital TV and radio, meanwhile, are available on request.

A full-width air vent dominates the dashboard, while a $1950 option adds four-zone air conditioning with second-row controls. Third-row seating also scores air vents.

Standard interiors are offered with either Diamond paint finish with silver grey or anodised paint with Anthracite, but the interior theme can be customised with a range of 11 interior trim sets and inlays priced between $870 and $2890.

All interiors are upholstered in leather with electrical adjustment in the front row and heating for the first two rows. Stepping up to Contour seats brings pneumatic adjustment and a massage function. All five rear seats have Isofix child seat anchors with a top tether bracket.

Interior lighting is all LED, while optional ambient lighting (at $1380) adds a pinstripe of light around the cabin which can be adjusted through a complete spectrum of colours.

For rear passenger entertainment, a cordless 10.1-inch tablet will be available as an option towards the end of the year. Up to two of the removable screens can be optioned at about $3000, allowing access to the various on-board entertainment systems anywhere inside or out of the car.

On the outside, the new-generation Q7 has shrunk in some dimensions, with a 37mm reduction to length and 15mm chopped from the width, while height is up 4mm. Despite the downsizing, interior space has increased, with more room for all passenger and 14mm extra headroom up front.

Boot space measures 770 litres with the third-row seating folded down. For more volume, the second row folds with a 35:30:35 split, freeing up 1955 litres of space when fully lowered. With all seven seats in use, the boot still offers 295 litres of space.

The Q7's electric tailgate can be optioned to open and close with Gesture Control.

Access to the sixth and seventh seats is via fold and tilt second row seating, and passengers in the back row have seatbelt warnings, while stowing the 50:50 split third row is made easier with electrical folding.

For $2775, a Bose 3D sound system with 19 speakers, a 15-channel amplifier and 558 watts of power replaces the standard 10-speaker 180 watt version, while an optional 23-channel, 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced system is available with 1920 watts and a hefty $14,850 price tag.

Apple Car Play and Google's equivalent Android auto will be available at about the same time, but the option will not be on offer as a retrofit item for already purchased vehicles.

The Q7s new exterior styling is highlighted by the single frame company identity grille with a more 3D look , while its flanks nod to the original 1980s Quattro with accentuated wheel arches and flared side blisters.

Compared with the first Q7 model, Audi says the second-generation is “more athlete than bodybuilder”.

A selection of three S line exterior packages is on offer for customising the Q7 with a variety of bodytrims, vents, spoilers and wheel designs ranging from $7460 to $10,085.

The Assistance package bundles active lane assist, active cruise control, Audi pre sense front autonomous braking, traffic jam assist (cruise control to 0km/h), collision assist and turn assist for $4,075.

All Q7s have airbags for the front row, side airbags for front and rear occupants and full length curtain airbags, while an active bonnet minimises injury to pedestrians in front-end collisions.

Nine paint colours are on offer, with metallic versions attracting a $2400 premium, although customers can select a custom colour for an additional charge.

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