Audi SQ7 Review: V8 Oomph
The original Audi Q7, a strange beast. Large, humble but something a little wallowing whilst driving. It was always going to get plenty of boxes ticked as a 7 seater SUV, but this was Audi. And to be honest it should have been a little bit better. As always, manufacturers give themselves a few bites at the cherry, and with Audi, the new Q7 gets the S treatment for the very first time. We headed out to Basel and then through the mountains to France to put the new SQ7 through its paces on winding and demanding roads. Read on for our Audi SQ7 review and test drive.
I still believe that Q7’s are very much a love or loath for their shape. Their rounded rear end just doesn’t appeal to all, and this is true of many of the larger SUVs in the market. Whilst the true body hasn’t really changed, the Q7 has gone from Uma Thurman to Marilyn Monroe and the SQ7 looks all the better for it. It looks all together a little more, dare I say, meaty. The S styling cues give a much more proud stance, a ‘look at me’ kind of confidence which you don’t always get with a vehicle so large. The front is much meaner with the full length and one piece grill surround and new splitter, and the enhanced lines along its length now make this thing more attack tank than people carrier.
The rear has improved a lot, those quad exhausts seem to add a little bit of much needed squaring on a previously incredibly round and saggy bottom. Along with the addition of a more pronounced and wider rear spoiler means that whilst the changes may not be huge, they do give a much more visual appeal to the rear.
The interior isn’t quite typical Audi. It is in terms of the quality and the kit. Everything is there you would come to expect. However, whilst I used to love Audi interiors for their unfussy and simple interior, the SQ7 is, dear I say it, flash? There are a wealth more buttons and options. Some useful and others, well, not so much. Being such a big cockpit though, I wonder if it actually needs the extra flash to make it not look too plain. The splashes of chrome and carbon do work well whilst still ensuring the key everyday functionality work just as they should. As such, this actually works rather well.
Forget the rest though, as the drive is where the SQ7 really comes into its own. The V8 TDi is a really hearty bit of kit. It’s loud and it really is full of every single little piece of power you could ever wish for. Its sound actually feels a little American, and not in a bad way. It’s reassuring that when you push your foot down a touch, you have instant feedback from the roaring gargle under the bonnet.
Whilst the V8 may be the SQ7’s beating heart, the real genius comes from electric. I don’t want to delve into the tech too much but we just must touch on it.
The SQ7 comes which an Electric Powered Compressor (EPC) which is the first of its kind in a production car. Instead of using the standard 12 volt battery, there is an additional electrical subsystem and compressor in the rear punching out 48 volts. What this allows the Audi SQ7 to do is to do more techy stuff to enhance both the ride and the speed. Firstly, this new EPC winds up and powers the two turbos, which in turn near eliminates turbo lag. Giving you torque and power literally straight off the pedal. And it is noticeable. this beast now goes to 62 mph in sub 5 seconds.
Secondly, and for me this could be the clincher, the EPC allows for the suspension and dampers to be electronically adjusted during the ride. So when cornering the additional power is used to push the car up or down on the relevant side, this keeps the car nearly completely flat when cornering and thus eliminating body roll for the cockpit.
This elimination of the body roll is just huge. It gives a real sports and premium feel to the SQ7, something not seen and as noticeable since the latest release of the Range a few years ago. Having a high car with so much weight and size is a difficult thing to keep flat, but the new ‘electromechanical active roll stabilisation‘ does it with ease. And makes this car one of the most pleasurable to drive, not just in class, but in all SUV / 4X4 segments.
Whilst the original S7 may have been a wallowing (yet very high brow) whale, the all new Audi SQ7 is an all out man-eater. A Great White shark, which even with its size, never fails to impress with its outright speed and some of the very best handling ever seen in a large 4X4 / SUV.