The 2020 Audi Q7 has received what the automotive industry commonly refers to as a ‘facelift’, yet take a seat in the expansive cabin – especially as the driver – and it feels like an all-new vehicle. Not bad for something that has always been a favourite among CarAdvice testers in the form of the model we know well.
On that subject, we’ve spent the better part of four months with the outgoing Audi Q7 as a CarAdvice long-termer. That time has been partly about assessing the Q7 as a genuinely solid, run-out proposition. It’s also been about best setting ourselves up to understand the significant technical changes that have been made to the new model I’m driving today.
At launch, we test the 45 TDI quattro and 50 TDI quattro S line models. They punch out 170kW and 500Nm and 210kW and 600Nm respectively, and do so with consummate ease. Following a decent slog in stop/start traffic, the 50 TDI on my return leg uses a frugal 8.0L/100km. We’ll test fuel consumption more closely when we spend a week with the different variants, but that’s impressive for a full-house large SUV in the real world.
The 45 TDI starts from $101,900 before on-road costs. On top of that, it adds metallic paint, and the ‘Premium Plus Package’ that bumps the price up to $110,750 before on-road costs.
Our 50 TDI tester starts from $119,900 before on-road costs, and adds only metallic paint, tow bar and wiring (not including tongue/ball section) and 21-inch alloy wheels, running the price up to $123,800 before on-road costs. You can read more about what each model is equipped with in our pricing and specs article.
As I stated above, the Q7 has always been a quality, luxury, large SUV. You get the sense, though, that it wasn’t always as focused as it may be going forward. A full stable that starts with the Q2 and runs through Q3, Q5 and up to Q7 – including a slew of engine and specification variants – means Audi can finely hone each model to do a more specific task than it may have originally been intended to complete.
Post BMW X5, you do get the sense that every other manufacturer had that ‘hey, we need a large SUV’ moment, and the original Q7 might have been born from that. Regardless, it’s always been a good offering in an ever more crowded segment.
I’m more and more interested with the way manufacturers within a larger stable differentiate their vehicles that share a common platform. There’s no doubt the Q7’s is durable, too – just think of the breadth of badges and performance it covers.
The front and rear ends have been sharpened up, and there’s no doubt which is the newer, fresher model if you were to park old and new next to each other. I like the new styling, but I didn’t think the old had aged badly either. If anything, the new Q7 just looks more stylised, sharper, a little edgier, and less bluff-fronted than the outgoing model.
For such a big SUV, I think the new front looks elegant and classy. The headlight DRL signatures, for many manufacturers the defining point of their styling revisions, remain unmistakably Audi. If you see the new Q7 approach in your rear-view mirror, you will know exactly what it is.
Likewise, the tail-lights and rear end design are both fresh, but without a doubt from the Audi stable. There’s no homogenised design here that might leave you wondering what you’re looking at.
While plenty of us buy cars and SUVs for what they say on the road, there’s no doubt that the new Q7’s biggest statement comes inside the cabin, especially when you take a seat in the driver’s pew. The new technology and the way it’s been integrated is brilliant.
The fully digital MMI user interface (10.1-inch screen up top and an 8.6-inch screen below) features a haptic touchscreen that isn’t as prone to fingerprints as some, which is an unexpected bonus. Fingerprints are the bane of my existence in a modern car, what with the glossy touchscreens and piano-black trim, but this one is better than most. The quality and feel of the system make it appear like it has come down the line from a high-end limousine, which is basically what has happened in the Audi lineage.
Virtual Cockpit (with a 12.3-inch high-resolution display), which has been a favourite with us regardless of vehicle or platform since Audi introduced it, looks right at home in front of the driver and the graphics are pin-sharp as always. You also get all manner of vehicle-to-the-ether connectivity – with the cloud-based Amazon Alexa voice service, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and Google Earth navigation.
I often find where Apple CarPlay is available in my case, I’ll opt for my phone’s navigation system, but that’s not so with the excellent way that Google Earth is integrated into the Q7. It’s clear, concise, fast to react and accurate, and it’s so intuitive to use that most buyers will opt for it over their phone’s native system.
On the subject of phone connectivity, the Q7 gets Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard. At launch I tested CarPlay, both via USB and wireless, and it worked faultlessly. There’s a wireless charge pad in the centre console, as well, but crucially for me there is room to hide the phone in there when it is plugged in. That keeps it from rattling around a cupholder or some other hidey-hole that isn’t designed to safely house a large smartphone.
The Q7 has always been a luxurious large SUV to drive, and the new one is no different. The two engine tunes are both beautifully matched to the eight-speed tiptronic transmission, and it’s as seamless at speed as it is in traffic. Stop/start is well integrated, too, and not as harsh as some when it punts the engine back into life when you’re ready to move off.
There’s a slew of standard electronic driver aids and tech that ensure the Q7 is as safe as it is proficient. Our 50 TDI is fitted with niceties such as Matrix LED headlights, electric memory driver’s seat, head-up display, a 19-speaker Bose sound system, front and rear parking sensors with 360-degree cameras, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, lane-change warning, intersection assist and rear cross-traffic assist.
Audi has continued with its theme of simplifying the standard equipment offering, and the optional packs on top of that, to make specifying and buying your Q7 easier than it might otherwise have been.
Most Q7s will serve time around town as family transportation, and despite the fact that it feels vastly sharper and more agile than it should on a twisty country road, it’s also comfortable around town. It reacts quickly to steering inputs, feels well balanced at speed, and flows from corner to corner effortlessly, even on tighter switchback-style roads. The lane-keep assist can be a little aggressive, which is quite common across all brands, but we can forgive safety tech for erring on the side of vigilance.
Selectable driver modes with adaptive air suspension mean you can choose your poison, so to speak, but the Q7 never crashed over nastier surfaces on test. That’s despite the 21-inch rubber on our test 50 TDI. If you like your SUVs comfortable and cosseting, then, the Q7 fills that brief nicely and it will float around town completely unaffected by the road surface beneath it.
Our time with the outgoing Audi Q7 has reiterated that if you don’t care about screen size and technology, it’s worth driving a hard bargain at the dealer. However, in evolutionary terms, the 2020 Audi Q7 is more of a leap than a step. It’s still a comfortable, spacious and proficient large SUV, but it now has the technical nous to take the fight up to the segment.
We’re looking forward to some more extensive testing – including towing – when we start to get the range through the CarAdvice garage.