If you'd like a 2021 Audi Q7 with petrol power, you have only one choice. The Q7 55 TFSI sits alone in the range alongside three others – all diesel powered. It's not the cheapest option either; in fact, the opposite.
The 2021 Audi Q7 range starts with the 45 TDI model from $103,300, and the more powerful 50 TDI from $114,300. Sharing the same top-tier price tag of $122,500 is both the Q7 50 TDI S Line and our test car, the 2021 Audi Q7 55 TFSI S Line. Bear in mind that all prices shown are for a base vehicle with no options and before on-road costs.
Ours was fitted with a selection of options: black exterior styling ($1450), towing hitch provision ($1500), metallic paint ($2300) and all-wheel steering ($2750). The $8000 worth of options pushes our car's list price up to $130,500, or around $140,000 drive-away.
|2021 Audi Q7 55 TFSI S Line|
|Engine||3.0-litre V6 petrol with 48-volt mild hybrid system|
|Power||250kW @ 5000–6400rpm|
|Torque||500Nm @ 1370–4500rpm|
|Claimed fuel economy||9.4L/100km|
|Fuel economy on test||11.0L/100km|
|Transmission||Eight-speed torque converter automatic|
|Price before options||$122,500|
|Price as tested (before on-roads)||$130,500|
|Dimensions||5063mm long / 1970mm wide / 1741mm high|
|Competitors||Land Rover Discovery, Mercedes-Benz GLS, BMW X7|
As I'm sure the various 45, 50 and 55 number designations equal sweet nothing to you, let's pick apart the hardware. For the money comes a 3.0-litre V6 petrol engine supported by a 48-volt 'mild hybrid' electric system. The latter enables the installation of a hybrid starter motor and alternator unit that both recovers energy from the engine and assists it also.
Power outputs sit at 250kW/500Nm, with the torque figure offered in full between 1370 and 4500rpm. It's quite the potent driveline, and enables the 2.2-tonne family bus to hit 100km/h from a standstill in 5.9 seconds. Behind the wheel, it feels quicker than the paper figures suggest. Torque availability feels close to instant, with the full 500Nm carried for more than half of the tacho.
It's smooth, too, and so quiet that you'd have trouble picking the engine configuration from inside the cabin. The refinement of the eight-speed torque converter automatic is equally as fine, offering a spread of well-selected ratios, and fed with enough torque to drive its higher gears at low revs. The only issue I noticed related to kick-down, as the transmission can take a few seconds to respond if you decide to bury the throttle.
The additional 48-volt mild hybrid tech does work, but only if you examine what's going on. Firstly, the car must be set in Efficiency mode for it be its most obvious – otherwise the system is almost too subtle to notice.
Secondly, you need to be travelling on level ground for the engine to turn off and allow the vehicle to coast. As soon as you fall into a hill, or conversely apply throttle to go up one, the motor will fire back up. Its aim is to introduce small moments of engine shutdown, which in turn over tens of thousands of kilometres will reduce its emissions.
Audi claims the running gear enables fuel usage of 9.4L/100km on the combined cycle, which we found hard to achieve. With the car run in Efficiency mode for 90 per cent of the seven-day loan duration, we saw a final figure of 11.0L/100km.
I'd wager that achieving a figure close to the combined one will require a driving cycle more aligned to highway than suburban. Still, in isolation of the official claim, 11.0L/100km is decent for a car of this size and weight.
Another bonus fitted to our car is a rear-wheel-steering system. It works by steering the back wheels in the opposite direction at low speeds, then in the same direction at higher speeds. The level of its effect is also adaptable by being linked to the drive-mode select system.
Naturally, it's most aggressive and sporty in Dynamic mode. Here, it works wonders to make the Q7 feel nimbler, almost as if the wheelbase has shrunk. You can detect the system doing its thing, too, which as the system's name suggests feels like the vehicle is steering from the back. On top of feeling more agile, it also reduces the turning circle from 12.5m to 11.4m.
Having driven an Audi Q7 without the technology, it's worth having, especially if you're moving up a few vehicle sizes and expect your slightly nervous partner to drive it too. It helps to shrink the Audi Q7, which will instil confidence in someone who's new to large cars.
Also calming the mind is factory-fitted air suspension. In Comfort mode, it steamrolls the road flat. The ride comfort is simply sublime, with only small moments of unsettledness stemming from the huge 21-inch wheels riding over corrugations. One can only dream of how plush the ride would be with a smaller rim and thicker tyre.
In the Dynamic setting, it becomes noticeably firmer and far tauter when you begin to shift its weight around. The change between each setting is stark, and demonstrates that air suspension has a wider spectrum of ability than regular, adaptive coil-sprung struts. In this mode it'll handle switchbacks and twistier sections of country lanes uncannily.
The experience from the inside is just as good. Audi has always placed a priority on developing smart, intuitive vehicle interfaces, and the Q7 demonstrates that notion. The first thing that stands out is the dual-pane screen arrangement, which sees infotainment handled by a 10.1-inch display and climate control by another 8.6-inch item.
Both feature haptic feedback; a clever system that responds to input with audible and sensory acknowledgment, like how your iPhone does. A small touch, but it helps to improve the tactility of the system and promote familiarity.
One point worth mentioning is that when you hook up Apple CarPlay, the screen loses its haptic feedback. It's as if Audi's engineers had forgotten to code that in, as other brands have managed to make the same systems work together.
From a design point of view, the twin-screen system also makes the cabin look high-end. They sit alongside a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that's highly configurable and one of the best in the business. Other features inside include heated seats and steering wheel, wireless phone charging, and two USB-C charging points up front.
Over in the second row, space is fantastic as expected. Behind my own driving position, I found there to be stacks of knee room, head room and foot room. You could easily fit three adults in the back, or three child seats, which makes it an ideal high-end option for a young family of five. Each seat is standalone and with its own ISOFIX point, too, so no child gets shortchanged for space.
Something else keeping the in-fighting at bay is a quad-zone climate-control system accessible from the back, which not only allows for differing temperatures left to right, but also independent fan speeds too. Underneath the control panel for the rear climate control sit another two USB-C ports.
Lifting the seats in the third row has been well thought out. You can either electronically fold out the two extra seats via switches in the boot, or from another set conveniently located behind the second-row seat back.
With seats six and seven up and access readied, you'll notice that the route to entry is actually quite slim. You have to slide the second row forward before getting in, too, as trying to drop it back into place in its most rearward position is close to impossible, unless you like squishing toes.
It makes using the third row a bit clumsy. On my first attempt, I'd gotten in the back, only unable to return the second row as it was set to its most rearward position. That meant I had to climb out, lower the second-row seat again, sit in it and slide it forward, then try again.
Once you've managed the debacle, you can attempt to squeeze into either small pew. Adults won't find them comfortable at all, so consider them fit for children only. It's a point also confirmed by the most rearward seats featuring ISOFIX, too, which means myriad possibilities in terms of loading up the old folks in the second row and then kids in the third.
With all seven seats in action, boot space comes in at a respectable and small-hatchback-comparable 295L. With seats six and seven dropped, you're left with a huge 770L, then in two-seater mode a whopping 1955L. You'll have no issues using your Q7 as a van if you decide that after a visit to your favourite furniture store, you'd also like to take a few things home.
It's hard to fault the Q7 as a family SUV. The petrol version doesn't suffer from the usual issue of thirst, so long as Efficiency mode is used most of the time. Opting for a diesel does net you more torque, but those who simply prefer petrol, or are sticking to lower-speed suburban driving, aren't missing much.
It continues to meet expectations in some areas, over-deliver on most, and rarely puts a foot wrong. Expensive, sure, but it is one of the best choices you can make at this end of the market, regardless of the fuel type you prefer.