The Bentley Bentayga... on a budget

Introduction

Seating seven in premium comfort, this second-generation model is more elegant than its predecessor, and thus a more acceptable alternative to the popular Volvo XC90 and Land Rover Discovery. The core range is currently small but the important base - a 3.0-litre turbodiesel - is covered, and there’s both high-performance SQ7 and green e-tron versions. It's now hard to seriously criticise Audi’s mature and upstanding large seven-seater.

 

Body Style: SUV Seats: 7 MRP from £49,505 - £72,020 

 

Did you know? The Q7 shares its underpinnings with the Bentley Bentayga, which sells for three times the price. A related Lamborghini Urus is also coming soon.

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (7.9/10)

The original Audi Q7 was a bolt from the blue. Audi’s first-ever SUV was big, brash and not a little ungainly. But it sold, in huge numbers, and established a range that’s grown exponentially since then. This second generation model is a fine evolution, lessening the objectionable design elements of the original and upping the luxury and comfort inside. It’s a near-faultless machine to drive and, although it’s expensive, prices seem surprisingly decent value given all that it offers. It’s now a big Audi SUV you don’t need to apologise for.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Spec & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

 

Audi Q7 2014

We Like

Luxurious to drive

Roomy and plush inside

Prettier than the original

We Don't Like

Air suspension is not standard

It’s very big

The image is still not everyone’s cup of tea

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Audi Q7

Audi has sensibly dialled back on the boldness for the styling of this second generation Q7. It’s trying less hard to be sporty and is a bit more upright and stately - more Range Rover than Range Rover Sport. This suits it much better, and Audi’s latest clean-cut panel surfacing seems to work more cohesively here. The grille is bigger than ever, but even this is the right side of offensiveness.

Of course, it’s still big and impactful. The large round wheelarches double-underline its SUV pretensions and the sharply-cut creases in the surfaces are eye-catching. Rear wheelarches have grown newfound muscle - but contrasting this is the more upright windows set on top, which Audi has designed to be more upstanding. It’s no longer trying to be a coupe on stilts, something that never quite worked with the old Q7. Naturally, it’s at its best with big wheels to fill those massive arches: you can go up to 22-inch, even on the base SE.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Audi Q7

You can rarely fault Audi interiors. As one of its range-topping models, the Q7 is about as close to faultless as you can get. The high seating position and excellent visibility from its large glass area simply adds to the sense of theatre. The fascia looks high-end and impeccably finished, with the sort of special attention to detail that sets it above even models such as the latest A4 and A5 range. Quality is exemplary and it’s all really rich and pleasing to the touch.

An array of air vents stretch the full width of the dash, and are picked out with chrome detailing. Plenty else besides is edged with chrome, and ambient lighting gives a choice of colours at night for additional wellbeing. All switches and dials are tactile, and the stubby gearlever is substantial and satisfying to use (once you’ve got used to its return-to-centre shift pattern).

Practicality

The driving position is without fault and the Q7 is a dignified car to sit in: you feel special and, not for the first time, could almost be in a Bentley. It feels large around you, which takes a bit of getting used to, but this is all part of the Q7’s appeal for some. Those in the rear have grown up levels of space and comfort, and the seats are as comfortable as you’d expect in a premium machine. Only the third row is a bit more third class, although they're still roomier than many supposed seven-seaters.

Boot space

With all seven seats in use, the Q7 has 295 litres of boot space. Fold them to use it in five-seat configuration, as most Q7s will be driven day-to-day, and the boot grows to 770 litres, far in excess of any estate car. Drop the middle seats and it outdoes estate cars again, with a 1955 litre boot.

Audi offers a no-cost delete option for the third row in SE and S line models, but not on the SQ7; e-tron models are five-seat only, due to the need to put the batteries somewhere.

Min: 295 litres
Max: 1955 litres 

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

2017 Audi Q7

A Q7 highlight is its infotainment system. Even the entry-level model has Audi’s MMI Navigation Plus system as standard, with 8.3-inch freestanding high-res monitor on the dash. It has 3D mapping with graphical city models and pretty pictures of places of interest, MMI touch for fingerprint data entry, MMI search for intelligent destination entry and numerous other neat features that make it a sat nav system way beyond your smartphone.

The Audi Smartphone Interface links mobiles via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, there’s Bluetooth calls and audio streaming, DAB, 10Gb flash memory for music, a DVD player, Aux in, card readers, USB sockets, you name it. Much of it is telegraphed through the standard 7.0-inch display between the dials, but you can also get the full Audi Virtual cockpit for those jaw-dropping full-width sat nav displays featured in all the brochures.

There’s some token off-road tech too - namely, hill descent control that caps speeds when off-roading (choose air suspension for height-adjust suspension). Two-zone climate control is standard; you can optionally extend it to four-zone, while the Audi Technology Pack option includes a head-up display, Virtual Cockpit and Audi Connect online services with in-car Google and Twitter. A Bose premium sound upgrade is available, but you can go even further and have more than £6000’s worth of Bang & Olufsen 3D audio with 23 speakers pumping out more than 1920 watts...

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Audi Q7

The Audi Q7 is a seriously slick and sophisticated machine to drive, but if you’re looking at the regular 3.0-litre TDI, there’s one option we’d highly recommend you choosing - adaptive air suspension. It really ought to be standard; it’s around £2000 but improves the breadth and control of the ride, and also gives height-adjust and height control for towing.

So equipped, the Q7 is a very cosseting cruiser. It rides with a Bentley-like gait, flowing along with cushioned grace that feels so very plush and relaxing. You have several different modes to tighten up control if roads get challenging; it will also kick in automatically if it senses you’re pressing on. This isn't a machine you necessarily buy for dynamic thrills, but it responds fairly eagerly to the accurate steering, and it’s an effortless steer for one so large - helped by a big weight reduction over the old one.

Audi’s 3.0-litre TDI turbodiesel is a peach. It’s quiet, but what you hear sounds nice, and in both 218-horsepower and 272hp guise, it has enough pull not to be shown up. There’s not a huge amount in it; even the 218hp one does 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds, but the 6.5 seconds of the 272hp really does make it hot hatch-like. The e-tron adds plug-in hybrid assist; it too is quick, but also silent-running when fully charged. The combination of electric and 3.0-litre TDI muscle on the move is a noticeable step up.

The SQ7 is the sporty one, with a wonderful 4.0-litre V8 tri-turbo (one of them is electric, for ultra-immediate response). 0-62mph takes just 4.9 seconds, fiendishly fast for such a large machine; 435bhp is impressive, 664lb ft of torque is wild, and it sounds like a genuine V8 to boot. It has 48v electronic active anti-roll tech as well, so shows incredible poise around bends. There’s even a bit of power oversteer potential thrown in for good measure. It’s a real eye-opener.

Recommended engine: 3.0 TDI 272

0-62 MPH

6.5 seconds

Fuel economy

47.9 mpg (19-inch wheels)

Emissions

153 g/km (19-inch wheels)

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Audi Q7

The Q7 scored a fine five stars in Euro NCAP testing back in 2015. It was given a 94% rating for adult occupant protection, making it among the best of the best, and 88% for child occupant protection. Even pedestrian protection wasn’t so bad, at 70%; it is, after all, a big SUV, but does have an active bonnet to lessen injuries.

As standard, the Q7 has six airbags, ISOFIX for all six passenger seats, seat belt monitoring and the Audi Connect Safety and Service system: via built in SIM, this has an emergency call function via an SOS button (it will auto-dial 999 if an airbag goes off), plus online roadside assistance that’s free for three years after purchase. If you renew, it will operate for up to a decade after purchase. Rear side airbags are optional on all versions.

Audi’s active auto-brake assist system is also standard. Via a camera mounted on the rear-view mirror, it senses collisions and, if it detects one up to speeds of 19mph, will warn the driver about a looming collision and auto-brake if the driver doesn’t respond to avoid it entirely. Up to speeds of 40mph, it will reduce the speed ahead of a collision to mitigate its effect.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

2017 Audi Q7

Colours

10 standard colours are available on the Q7. Standard Pure White and Night Black are free, and eight metallic are all optional: Orca Black, Graphite Grey, Diamond Beige, Floret Silver, Argus Brown, Glacier White and Ink Blue, or pearl-effect Daytona Grey and Sepang Blue (you can only have those on S line or SQ7).

The Audi exclusive paint range is available on the Q7, for a range of ultra-special hues – or have your own made up via the customised service. Catalogue-listed special colours include Palace Blue, Sand Beige and Saddle Brown, Classic Red, Garnet Red, Mamba Black and Ipanema Brown. Ample choice, in other words – if you can afford it.

Trim Levels

Core Q7 trims are SE and S line, with SQ7 and e-tron as the lower-volume, higher-price alternatives. Each is extremely well equipped (apart from the obvious omission of air suspension). Xenon headlights with LED running lights and LED tail lamps, climate control, MMI navigation with 8.3-inch colour screen, cruise control, electric leather seats, auto lights and wipers plus keyless go are all standard.

S line adds LED headlights, Audi’s smart-looking ‘swiping’ rear LED indicators, four-zone climate control S line styling outside and in and rear privacy glass. SQ7 is seriously indulgent, with the Audi Virtual Cockpit as standard, Valcona leather trim, electronic adaptive S air suspension and a fruity-sounding active exhaust. e-tron mixes and matches other trim lines; it’s not too sporty and is more focused on eco efficiency. Mark it out on the road from its bespoke e-tron LED running light setup.

Size and Dimensions

The Q7 is a long machine, nearly 5.1 metres in length. It’s wide, too not far shy of two metres wide, with door mirrors taking to over 2.2 metres. Remember, it’s a tall machine too: alarmingly close to 1.8 metres if you’re driving beneath a height barrier…

Quick mention of wheels: you can have up to 22-inch rims on a Q7, and even standard SE models have 18-inch wheels as standard, or 19-inch as a no-cost option. S-line starts at 20-inch: the Q7 has big wheels, in other words.

Length

5069 mm

Width

1968 mm

Height

1741 mm

Max towing weight without brake

750kg

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy:★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ (6/10)

audi q7 diesel motor

If you choose a base Q7 SE with eco-sized 18-inch alloys, claimed economy climbs as high as 49.6mpg. To show the effect wheels alone have on mpg, fitting 22-inch wheels to the same car drops it down to 45.6mpg. CO2 emissions rise from a decent 148g/km to a pricier 161g/km. Bear this in mind before you option up wheels…

There's barely any difference in economy between the 218hp and 272hp engines, so we’d go for the latter just because of its extra power. Fleet drivers won’t have to pay any more to tax it, such is the minimal difference in CO2. Considering its performance, the SQ7 isn’t too bad on 39.2mpg combined, while the eco star of the range is the Q7 e-tron: 156.9mpg is the claimed economy via the official test, and it will do up to 34 miles purely on zero-emissions electric drive.

The Q7 e-tron takes 2.5 hours to charge up on a home wall box or public charging point, or eight hours on a regular domestic three-pin socket. You’ll only get standout fuel economy from it if you keep it charged up, though: don’t do this and it won’t be much different to the regular Q7 TDI.

All diesel Q7 use the AdBlue emissions reduction system. This has a supplementary 12-litre tank that’s meant to last between services; in recognition that a hard-used Q7 will have quite a thirst for AdBlue, a 24-litre tank is a no-cost option (and standard on both e-tron and SQ7). You top it up via a filter within the existing fuel filler.

Reliability and servicing

The Q7 is a complex machine so servicing will be on the pricey side, but Audi’s flexible intervals should stretch distances between them. The biggest irritant may be filling up the AdBlue tank. Reliability is looking premium-level: this flexible architecture is used across a range of luxury vehicles so Audi will have worked to get it right. It’s still relatively new, but there's no evidence of any major problems arising.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

2017 Audi Q7

Q7 prices start from under £50,000 for the 3.0 TDI 218 SE, with the jump to the 272hp engine requiring £2590 extra. S line trim is around £3500 more, and the SQ7 starts from well over £70,000. Even the Q7 e-tron costs more than £65,000; that’s why most Q7 are sold with a normal 3.0 TDI engine.

It’s worth noting that a Land Rover Discovery has a much lower entry price, but this is for a less well equipped model with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel motor. Once you spec-match and compare the Discovery V6 diesel, things even out.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

Cost Conscious

3.0 TDI 218 SE – it’s a bit of a bargain, this Q7. You can live just fine with the 218hp engine and the standard spec is comprehensive. Just try not to get too tempted by the options list…

Car Enthusiast

SQ7 – Enough pace to worry a supercar, enough space to keep the family happy. Is this the new Audi RS Avant for fast family people?

Green Car Buyer

e-tron – Any car this size that can claim such amazing economy and emits under 50g/km CO2 is impressive. It's conditions-dependent, but still an impressive performance.

Rivals

Volvo XC90

Sleek and sophisticated seven alternative to the Q7 that’s now a genuine premium alternative.

Land Rover Discovery

All-new Land Rover Discovery is a massive step on over the old one. It too is now premium, luxurious and cosseting - and very, very spacious.

BMW X5

The racy BMW X5 is getting on a bit these days but is still popular. You can just about squeeze a third row of people into the seven seat version.

Mercedes-Benz GLE

Another ageing model, the GLE is excellent off road and sturdy on it, but is starting to show its years now.

Porsche Cayenne

The really sporty one. You can’t get it with seven seats but you can get it with engines as powerful as you’d ever wish. If you can afford them...

What others say

Auto Express

“The second-generation seven-seater Audi Q7 SUV weighs an amazing 325kg less than the original, and is cheap to run and better to drive.”

Car Buyer

“With a spacious interior, a long list of standard equipment and a staggeringly refined diesel engine, the Q7 offers everything an SUV buyer is looking for.”

 

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