The current-generation Audi Q7 is holding its age well, even though it went on sale five years ago. While not everyone is a fan of its bold design, there’s no mistaking its road presence.
Fortunately, the box-like shape is an efficient way to create a lot of space. The Audi Q7 is huge, and a genuine seven-seater that can carry a full load of occupants and their luggage.
Despite these attributes, the Audi Q7 ranks behind the BMW X5, Range Rover Sport, and Mercedes GLE in the luxury SUV sales race. Indeed, last year the Porsche Cayenne – the Q7’s twin under the skin – was just two sales away from overtaking the Audi Q7.
A facelifted Audi Q7 is due mid-year with subtle changes on the outside, and a completely revamped dashboard that brings it up to date with its latest models. But essentially the updated version will have the same cabin space and engine package as what we have here.
When this generation of Audi Q7 launched in 2015 it was simply called the 3.0 TDI, and you had to read the fine print in the brochure to distinguish the two power options available from the same engine.
In 2018, Audi changed its naming policy and gave each version a unique badge, so you can spot the difference simply by looking at the numbers on the tailgate.
The current Audi Q7 line-up starts from $97,800 plus on-road costs for the 45TDI powered by a 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6 with a 160kW/500Nm output, and matched to an eight-speed automatic and permanent all-wheel drive.
The 2019 Audi Q7 we are testing is the second model up in the range, the 50TDI, which comes with a more powerful version of the same engine (200kW/600Nm) and priced from $106,900 plus on-road costs.
However, with options, the price of the Audi Q7 you see here is $131,790 plus on-road costs, so close to $140,000 by the time it’s in the traffic. This is a sizeable amount of money, especially given it could be expected that some of the optional features ought to be standard.
Radar cruise control (with stop-and-go in traffic) and lane-keeping assistance is a $3850 option pack, even though this tech is standard on cheaper rivals.
The S-Line pack including five-spoke 20-inch alloys, LED headlights and tail-lights (with scrolling indicators) and rear tinted windows is $4600.
The Comfort pack (four-zone air-conditioning, ambient lighting, electric steering adjustment, rear sun visors and brushed aluminium highlights) also isn’t cheap at $3650.
The panoramic sunroof is $3990 and metallic paint adds $2250. The tow bar ($1500) was the cheapest option.
Standard safety tech includes blind-zone warning, front and rear autonomous emergency braking, and door exit warning, to prevent you opening the door on a passing cyclist. And there are eight airbags inside the cabin to protect occupants should the worst happen.
We’ve managed to clock up some decent kilometres in a relatively short time, and have come away impressed with the fuel economy. On freeway-only drives, consumption has dipped into the 7–8L/100km range.
As this article was published – including a mix of city driving and long periods of idling to keep cool in the air-conditioning – the fuel consumption average was showing 9.7L/100km for the entire time we’ve had the car so far.
Audi was also keen for us to experience the Q7’s towing potential. The official tow rating maximum is an impressive 3500kg, putting it in Toyota LandCruiser 200 Series territory, which is more than enough for our plans to hook up a car trailer or a jet ski behind the Audi during our time with it.
So far we’ve only towed a jet ski trailer which, at below 750kg, is light work, and also doesn’t require trailer brakes or a brake controller to be fitted to the vehicle.
However, getting a tow bar onto the Q7 turned out to be a bit of adventure in itself. Audi forgot to supply the neck that slots into the tow bar that's bolted under the car. Once we got that sorted, we were left with another dilemma.
We learned the hard way that Audi (and its sister brand Volkswagen, if the logo on the trailer light socket is anything to go by) has its own trailer light socket pattern. Which is why, after searching car parts stores all weekend to find the correct adaptor to fit our flat seven-pin connector on our trailer, we drew a blank.
Audi supplies the tow hitch and neck with an adaptor (it’s $49 if you need to buy one separately, based on our search of the Audi parts catalogue), but it was hidden in a black tool pouch in the spare wheel well.
However, the Audi service department told us the connector was not supplied with our vehicle and would need to be sourced separately.
Clearly not many Audi customers tow with their vehicles, because Audi’s own head office service centre missed the importance of this basic but critical detail. It also took 90 minutes to fit the neck, normally a two-minute job.
If you order an Audi with a tow bar, a word of advice based on our experience: don’t leave the dealership without making sure everything’s in order.
Once we finally connected, we could see why Audi/VW has a proprietor connector. It has a bayonet-style fitting and locks into place with a cover, so it’s next to impossible to fit incorrectly.
One other handy touch: there is a repeater lamp in the digital instrument display to tell you the indicators on the trailer are working.
As for towing, the Audi Q7 barely knew the jet ski was behind it (weighing about 600kg including the craft and trailer) when it came to acceleration, though we could feel the need to apply more brake pressure and allow for longer braking distances once we were hooked up.
Cleverly, once a trailer light socket is connected, the Q7 disables the rear parking sensors so you’re not having to cancel them when reversing with a trailer, but it also disables blind-zone warning, which not all cars with this feature lose when towing.
So far, though, we’re impressed with the Q7 after living with it for a short while. Dislikes? There aren’t many to note so far. I wish the infotainment screen in the middle of the dash were bigger (as it is in the Volkswagen Touareg), and I’m always a touch nervous about travelling beyond city limits in an SUV without a full-size spare. But, touch wood, so far, so good.
Surprising positives? I can’t believe how nimble the Q7 feels despite weighing 2135kg. The road-biased tyres make a significant contribution to this effort.
And with the optional 85L fuel tank (up from the basic 75L tank and wisely selected by Audi as standard equipment for all of the current-generation Q7s sold in Australia), you can in theory travel in excess of 900km in ideal conditions without stopping, though so far we’ve only made it into the high 700km range because we’ve played it safe.
Because the Q7’s diesel engine is Euro VI compliant, the fuel filler has an adjacent filler neck for AdBlue, which usually needs to be added every 5000–10,000km. The car will tell us when it needs it, but so far we haven’t had to do this juggle yet.