March 13, 2006
By: Neil McGarry
After what many Audi owners would call an interminable wait the much anticipated Audi Q7 will arrive stateside in June 2006. Initially the Q7 sports Audis 4.2-liter FSI V8 which generates a very healthy 350 horsepower and 325 lbs/ft. of torque. Displacement is always a dear friend, particularly in a larger vehicle! quattro all-wheel drive is standard on all Q7 models and Audis newest 40/60 asymmetric torque distribution and ESP with roll-over detection are also part of the mix. The Q7 includes all the standard amenities drivers in this segment expect along with a host of new advanced-technology, driver assist systems.
Audi mates the 4.2 FSI V8 to a 6-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission; no standard shift will be offered at this time. The engine is whisper quiet under a light foot, but the 4.2-liter powerplant just as in all Audis with this engine makes itself known under hard acceleration. For owners who want factory-provided zing an optional 20 wheel is available rolling on 275/45 tires over 20×9 inch wheels. Combined with the also optional adaptive air suspension which is fitted with additional off-road and lift settings, these two upgrades change the Q7s character into something a bit sportier and hearty.
The interior of the Audi Q7 is consistent with all recent Audis that is to say perfectly designed to be both active and elegant at the same time and includes wood and aluminum trim accents. The interior has actually been Americanized with 1.5-liter bottle holders in all four door pockets along with six additional cup holders. Twenty-eight discreet loading configurations are made possible via the flat-folding seats in the 2nd and 3rd rows. There is a preponderance of luggage / cargo capacity when the 3rd row seats are folded down (27.4 cu. ft. for those who are counting) and even with those seats deployed the vehicle has the capacity to pack in a familys belongings for the day (10.8 cu. ft.).
All V8-powered Q7s come with standard leather interiors, although owners choosing the Premium Package will find their Q7s outfitted in upgraded Cricket leather. In terms of seating, owners can either deploy a 2nd row bench producing a 2 + 3 + 2 = 7 layout or alternatively go with a 2 seats + large center console in the 2nd row. From both a cosmetic and functional perspective we preferred the 2 + 2 + 2 = 6 passenger layout with large center console. We liked the armrests, additional storage capacity and practicality of this configuration.
The exterior of the Q7 has a very muscular appearance with the extra large wheel arches and high side panels. Exterior lighting includes optional Bi-Xenon headlights with Audis dynamic cornering adaptive lights together with LED light clusters in the rear. While new Q7-specific colors have been designated, we only test drove Black, Silver and Beige and are therefore unable to comment on color combinations. Some of the new colors include: Condor Grey Metallic, Cobalt Blue Metallic, Garnet Red Pearl Effect, Calla White, and Sycamore Green Metallic.
Audi has thoughtfully bundled many technically advanced or can we say cool features into its Q7 Premium package. These features include MMI , DVD navigation, Bluetooth, a Bose sound system with 14 speakers and a subwoofer, Advanced Key with keyless start, 4-zone climate control, Open-Sky sunroof, trunk tie down system and rear view camera with Parktronic.
The Parktronic system in the Q7 is as much of a safety feature as a convenience; when reverse is selected the rearview camera’s image is displayed on the MMI screen. Three levels of marking show fixed distances from the car along with lines showing the intended trajectory of the car that change dynamically as the steering wheel is turned. This gives the driver comprehensive information both about what sits behind the vehicle and in situations where a tight squeeze is required.
The Premium package can be further decked out with the previously mentioned 20 wheels, a towing package with 6,600 lbs capacity, adaptive air suspension, Audi side assist, rear side airbags and the option to delete the 6 seater configuration for the 7 seater layout.
Although final details have yet to be confirmed an S-Line package for the Q7 is being put together by Audi. Expect to see a new, more aggressive front bumper, 21 wheels and a 3-spoke steering wheel equipped with shift paddles.
Two brand new advanced technology driver assist systems are part of the Q7: the second generation of Audis adaptive cruise control and the Audi side assist system.
The new adaptive cruise control, which operates at speeds between 0-90 mph, allows the driver to set both speed and distance from vehicles directly in front of the car. The system will even bring the car to a full stop if necessary. Radar is the chief enabler of the adaptive cruise control system and operates at 76.5 GHz up to a range of 600 feet.
The new side-assist system also utilizes radar (this time in the 24 GHz range). The system is housed in the rear bumpers on both sides of the vehicle and monitors traffic to the side and rear of the car. If another automobile is within a 16.5 foot range the system will alert the driver via LEDs located in the mirror housings. If the driver activates the turn signal while an object is within range the LEDs flash brightly as a warning. Audi has cleverly worked out the engineering such that these LEDs are visible only to the driver and do a good job serving their purpose without becoming an annoyance or distraction. The system can be deactivated by the driver if desired.
With all these great features and equipment the Audi Q7 premium weighs in at 5,467 lbs. As far as we know this makes the Q7 the heaviest passenger vehicle ever produced by Audi. Weight in general will have a negative affect on handling characteristics; that said we were more than a little impressed with the agility of this vehicle. The Q7 carries itself very well.