The Performance SUV: Audi Q7
Audi is about to unveil a vehicle that marks a superlative new development in the sport utility vehicle (SUV) segment. The Audi Q7 ingeniously combines sportiness and versatility, sophisticated technology and the luxury of a premium-class vehicle. On the road it excels with the driving performance and dynamism of a sports car; off-road it redefines the benchmark in its category. A vehicle that outwardly makes no secret of its qualities and whose technology delivers on its promise – on any road and in all conditions. The Audi Q7 – the performance SUV from the creator of quattro.
As a third-generation SUV the Audi Q7 has been clearly moulded by the most diverse genes: its styling is not only an expression of sheer sportiness but also evidence of its suitability for challenging terrain. The interior possesses the ambience of the luxury class.
The Audi Q7 sets new trends through its design alone. Characteristic Audi dynamism is reflected in the broad curve of the roof and the high body surface in relation to the flat window area. The dynamic sweep of the front section and the powerful rear end with its sharply sloping D-posts fashion a coupé-like silhouette.
Equally typical of the current Audi formal idiom are the shoulder line and dynamic line, which define the side section. The paintwork option of two contrasting body colours creates a striking look. Eleven basic colours are available, three of which are reserved exclusively for the Q7.
Seen from the front, the single-frame grille and the wide headlight units with visible light tubes behind clear-glass covers identify the Q7 as a latest-generation Audi model.
The V-shape of the engine compartment lid sets a dynamic, pioneering trend in front design – a clear indication of the power of the engines.
The shoulder line meets the clearly curved rear end at the top edge of the light units. These are drawn far into the side, emphasising the horizontal design of the area and its low centre of gravity – an impression underlined by the lower part of the tailgate, which likewise reaches far into the side section.
Typical for a vehicle with the genes of an off-roader are the high ground clearance of 200 millimetres (with steel-spring suspension) and the 18-inch wheels (up to 20-inch on request) in the striking, broad curve of the wheel arches. Off-road capability is also enhanced by a distinctly short overhang at the front and the sturdy underride protection at the front and rear.
Clear architecture and ergonomic perfection, combined with the finest materials and excellent craftsmanship: these are the first and lasting impressions conveyed by the interior of the Q7. The feeling of generous spaciousness from every seat is due in no small measure to the colours chosen for the materials. Large surfaces in the same colour and material dominate, accommodating the functional units which are embedded like islands. In addition to aluminium and high-quality plastic, three different wood options are available for the horizontal trims in the instrument panel and doors.
This ambience serves to reveal the vehicle’s kinship with the Audi A6 and A8 saloons. The styling of the controls was clearly inspired by the interior of the A6, as was the driving area with teardrop-shaped frames for the instruments.
The driver-integrating cockpit with the MMI multimedia interface impresses with the ergonomic qualities of Audi’s current interior design. Broadly curved and encompassing the upper part of the centre console, the controls and switches form a central operating and information unit designed with the driver in mind.
The high, wide centre console, where use of the foot-operated parking brake renders the handbrake lever superfluous, proves to be as uncluttered and functional as in the A6 and A8.
Numerous storage compartments and up to six cup holders enhance travelling comfort for every passenger. The door pockets are fitted with brackets that will even take 1.5-litre bottles.
The seats in the Q7 are of a new design and ensure excellent comfort on long journeys and a relaxed seated position throughout. Depending on the configuration chosen, up to seven people can be accommodated in three rows of seats. Exceptional head, shoulder and – most notably – leg room is provided by the middle seat row, which can be adjusted forward and back by up to 100 millimetres – here the Q7 offers the maximum in its class.
The Audi Q7 is equipped as standard with backrest angle adjustment over three seats in the second row and a load-through hatch with ski bag. As an alternative, two comfort seats can be ordered for the second row in conjunction with a large centre console. Here, under the fold-up, adjustable centre armrest is a large storage compartment; two cup holders provide an additional stowage option.
In addition, a third seat row can be ordered for the Q7, which can accommodate passengers up to 1.60 m tall. Thanks to the easy-entry feature for the rear seats, access to the third row is simple and convenient.
The seats in the second and third row can be folded flat, providing – along with up to 28 different loading configurations – a load area with a maximum volume of 2,035 litres, without the seats having to be removed. If the third seat row is omitted the Q7 has a load area of 775 litres – the best in its class. Even if all three seat rows are in use, a load capacity of 330 litres remains.
The broad, wide-opening tailgate of the Q7 can be operated electrically if desired. Naturally for an Audi, the finest materials finished to the highest standards are found in the load area too, as well as numerous types of fastening and securing elements.
Another useful convenience feature is the trailer hitch with detachable, electrically controlled ball end, which is user-friendly and easy to operate if required.
Body and safety
In contrast to earlier SUV generations that were based on a ladder-type chassis frame in the tradition of an all-terrain vehicle, the Audi Q7 has a self-supporting body of lightweight steel construction. The drag coefficient of only 0.34 is the best in its class and is evidence of the aerodynamic qualities of the lines.
With regard to occupant safety, too, the body of the Audi Q7 provides a standard that lives up to the high claim of the brand. Zones of defined deformation in all sections direct the impact energy specifically away from the high-strength passenger cell which offers maximum survival space.
In the event of a frontal collision, front sensors behind the radiator grille, in conjunction with other sensors and control units, register a crash within the space of a few thousandths of a second. A few milliseconds later, the belt tensioners are triggered to minimise any possible belt slack.
A belt-force limiter yields at a particular load threshold to allow occupants to sink into the inflated airbag. The full-size front airbag functions in two stages: during the first stage – when it ignites in low-speed accidents – there is less load on the occupant. At higher speeds, the deployment of the second stage fully utilises the protective potential of the front airbag.
The Audi Q7 is also equipped as standard with side airbags at the front as well as the sideguard head-protection airbag system, which virtually covers the entire side window area up to the third seat row.
Sensors in doors and C-pillars ensure reliable and fast deployment in the event of a side or oblique collision.
The Audi Q7 also affords occupants excellent protection against the consequences of a rear-end collision. It already meets the requirements of future standards, i.e. it withstands an impact against a deformable barrier at 80 km/h and with 70 per cent overlap.