3.0 TDI quattro Clean Diesel S line
the moment it hit the streets,
Q7 performance SUV jumped
to the top of its segment. Now Audi
has made its sporty, comfortable,
high-performance SUV even better:
more refined, more elegant and,
in new 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel guise,
it showcases the worlds cleanest
DESPITE ITS 'CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN' appearance, the Q7 is principally
bought and used as an on-road machine. And Yes, at 16.7 feet long, 5.7 feet
high and 6.5 feet wide it is a big car but not monstrous, as it
has been dubbed by some in the media. It certainly doesn't feel that
big from behind the wheel and, rather astonishingly, it doesn't behave
like a huge car, either.
It's a self-evident truth that it's in everybody's interest to do their bit
to 'save the world' well, make it a cleaner place, at least. Audi is
far ahead of the curve with its Clean Diesel response to the stringent new Euro-6
emission regulations that are set to take effect in 2014 and which will make
all oil-burners use an additive called AdBlue. Thanks to AdBlue, and some engine
management changes, smog-generating nitrous oxide emissions are cut by 90%.
For once, a positive case of man-made extinction!
Q7 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel is the first low-NOx diesel to be offered in the UK
and the first to use AdBlue. Stored in a 23-litre tank (enough to last
for around 20,000 miles), the AdBlue additive is sprayed into the exhaust gases
just before they enter the catalytic converter. This changes the potentially
dangerous nitrogen oxide gases into harmless nitrogen and water. As far as the
driver is concerned, this is a no-worry feature because the AdBlue is topped-up
whenever the car is serviced.
So, does all this
technology slow down
the 3.0-litre V6 TDI?
Not a bit!
So, does all this state-of-the-art 'green' tech slow down the V6 TDI? Not that
you'd notice. The Q7 might weigh-in with a 2,335kg kerb weight but it's no slouch:
not with 236bhp and 405lb ft of torque on tap from 2,000rpm to push it along.
Maximum speed is 135mph with 0-62mph done and dusted in a lively 8.1 seconds;
the standard 3.0 TDI also tops out at 135mph but gets to 62mph a fifth of a
second quicker, in 7.9 seconds. The official average fuel consumption is 33.6mpg
(38.3mpg for the standard TDI).
During our week with the Q7 we averaged 28.9mpg, much of it in heavy city traffic
the official urban consumption figure is 25.9mpg. The consumption gap
closes on the extra urban cycle with 40.9 for the 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel vs 42.2mpg
for the standard 3.0 TDI. Whatever, forty to the gallon from anything the size
of a Q7 is definitely something to shout about and it's easy to see why the
3.0-litre TDI is where the smart money goes.
Apart from the cutting-edge NOx-reducing technology, the Clean Diesel version
is much like any other Q7: its 'footprint' is still substantial but, thanks
to some mild styling tweaks including new trademark Audi LED driving lights,
revised grille and bumpers and redesigned tailgate and LED rear light clusters,
the 'refreshed' Q7 boasts 'handsome brute' looks.
When it comes to passenger carrying duties, Audi's SUV is ready to deliver and,
as you'd expect given the 9.8-foot wheelbase, is amazingly roomy for four/five.
It can be had as a five or seven seater (or even, as an extra-cost option, with
seats for six; this comes with comfortable, longitudinally adjustable, individual
seats in the second row).
middle-row bench slides fore and aft by four inches to share out leg
or load space as necessary between the middle and third rows. The second-row
backrest angle is adjustable through nine degrees and it features a 40:20:40-split
arrangement; the middle section doubles as an armrest with retractable cup holders
and also folds down to make a load-through for long objects.
The third-row seats are
a bit of a squeeze
but still better than those
offered by the
The rearmost pair of seats are a bit of a squeeze, but still better than those
offered by the Q7's rivals, and do offer decent comfort but they're best for
children or adults on short trips Audi recommends that they're used for
persons no taller than 5.25 feet (1.6 metres). That noted, we did manage a journey
with a near-six-footer travelling back there with no complaints other than about
the limited foot room.
These rearmost seats fold easily into the boot floor to maximize load space
there's a huge 775 litres in five-seat mode; maximum cargo space is a
vast 2,035 litres. Going the other way, even with all seven seats in use there's
still a practical 330 litres of boot space available for luggage. The power-operated
tailgate is a nice touch, as is the 'loading' button just inside the boot
press it, and the body drops several inches for easier loading. A loadbay 'racking'
system is also included, as is a hidden luggage compartment beneath the boot
Climb aboard the Q7 not a problem as the seat base is just the right
height from the ground for you to easily perch and swivel in and you
won't be in the least surprised to find yourself seated in an elegant and beautifully-appointed
cabin: luxurious every-which-way power leather seats with power lumbar adjustment,
6-stage heating and extending under-knee support are complemented by soft-touch
upscale trim and chrome / aluminium detailing to the switchgear; fit and finish
is first rate and well up to Audi's usual high standard.
Q7 owners don't go short on life's little luxuries, either. All models are fitted
with air suspension, climate control, cruise control, power windows (all-round),
eight-speaker Bose hi-fi and alloy wheels as standard. The top-spec S line model
we tested comes with electrically-adjustable heated leather sports seats, aluminium
cabin trim, headlamp washers, additional sporty styling details and a full complement
kit includes a DVD SatNav (instinctively easy to work from the very first time
you use it), panoramic sunroof (genuinely panoramic: it extends over all three
rows of seats), adaptive cruise control which uses radar to maintain the distance
from the preceding vehicle throughout the speed range and Audi Braking Guard
that gives a two-stage warning of an impending rear-end collision.
The DVD SatNav is
instinctively easy to work
from the very first time
you use it...
Also available is Audi Lane Assist (helping the driver stay 'in' lane) and a
parking system that uses a camera to assist the driver in backing up, parallel
parking or hitching up to a trailer. There's also a clever anti-blind-spot radar
that detects overtaking traffic and alerts the driver through LEDs built into
the door mirror housing, and cornering lights. Plus, of course all the usual
'toys' including very advanced assistance and infotainment systems to personalise
The driving position is absolutely spot-on with first class ergonomics; making
things easier is a single rotary knob for controlling the SatNav (brilliant
3D graphics and sensibly sited at the very top of the centre stack), impressive
Bose stereo and air-suspension functions with easily identifiable buttons bringing
up menus for each system on the large colour screen. The multi-function steering
wheel is leather-wrapped with perforated leather used for the work areas and
the horn sounds great: not too sharp but nonetheless commanding without being
aggressive you'd be surprised at how many cars have weedy-sounding horns.
The dash is as ergonomically correct as it is attractive, with two tear-shaped
nacelles. Graphics are stark white on black and crystal clear. A large digital
numeric display makes sure you're always aware of your road speed and is the
next best thing to a head-up display. Switches and controls all have that 'engineered'
feel that adds to the ownership experience on every journey, however short.
Rear vision is limited but there are audible parking sensors (front and rear
and the driver can customise the tones, making them distinctly different) as
well as a visual on-screen schematic.
We were expecting an electronic handbrake but not the foot-operated parking
brake fitted that said, it's straightforward and easy to use; in fact,
a lot of drivers still prefer a physical handbrake of some sort.
away and, as you'd expect with this class of car, the Q7 central locks itself
automatically. You'd also expect dual-zone, climate control air conditioning,
which is just what you get and it works powerfully; it does 'super-cold', which
was exactly what we needed during our test week when external temperatures stuck
around 30 degrees Celsius. On demand power-fold mirrors and a self-dimming rear-view
mirror are also standard and there's a decent amount of storage space from the
large chilled glovebox to the accommodating door pockets.
The ride is more than
so for an SUV;
soothing and well-damped. And its even
better at motorway
ride is more than acceptable, especially so for an SUV; soothing and well-damped.
And it's even better at motorway speeds. There might be a powerful turbodiesel
unit working away under the bonnet but whichever seat you occupy in the Q7 you
won't be disturbed by it. Overall refinement is excellent and even wind noise
is non-existent, a benefit of the new, smaller mirrors designed to cut down
drag and the smooth nose and adaptive, self-lowering suspension that together
ensure the Q7 cuts cleanly thought the air at speed. Without doubt motorways
are its forte and the Q7 cruises them sublimely.
Let's be honest dynamic handling from a machine as big as the Q7 is not
something you'd expect. But get behind the wheel and you'll quickly find that,
courtesy of its air-suspension / electronically-controlled shock absorbers,
the Q7 can certainly hustle. Select Dynamic ride mode (the choices are Comfort,
Automatic and Dynamic) and you'll quickly discover that the Q7 is extremely
agile for such an outsized vehicle.
Yet the overall driving experience is startlingly good; body roll is well controlled
and, thanks also to precise steering, the Q7 can be pushed through bends with
both dignity and composure. Equally reassuring, and very effective, are the
brakes: massive vented discs all round deliver press-and-you-stop-NOW braking.
The smart 20-inch, 5-spoke alloy wheels fitted to our test car wore 275/45 Yokohama
Advan Sport tyres. Specifically designed for high speed driving and stability
in high-powered sports cars (Porsche and Aston Martin), they did a fine job
of combining grip with comfort.
About the only thing that you really need to come to terms with is the Q7's
girth: most parking spaces will require the door mirrors folding in and with
mirror-tip-to-mirror-tip measuring just over seven feet, barrelling down country
lanes is definitely not for the fainthearted.
ground clearance also varies with speed. When the Q7 exceeds 99mph for a specified
length of time the body lowers from the normal 180mm (7.1 inches) in two steps
to 145mm (5.7 inches) for maximum stability and aerodynamics.
Traction is faithfully
looked after 24/7
by Audis legendary
The payload, incidentally, does not affect these levels the adaptive
air suspension also operates as a high-tech level control. And in the sporty
driving mode, especially on country roads, dynamic roll control helps maintain
lateral stability by selectively increasing the damping forces.
air-suspension system couldn't be any simpler to use: at any time the driver
can, via the Multi Media Interface (MMI) operating system, select any of the
three different on-road modes; each varies the characteristic curves of the
pneumatic springs and the dampers depending on the dialled-up mode and the driving
When taking the Q7 off-road, there are two additional choices: Off-road mode
(for speeds up to 50mph) increases the ground clearance by 25mm above the normal
level, to 205mm (8 inches); and Lift mode (up to 25mph) lets the Q7 clear large
obstacles thanks to a useful 240mm (9.5 inches) of ground clearance.
A six-speed tiptronic automatic transmission is standard and it serves
up consistently smooth shifts. There's a Sport setting too and, for hands-on
driver control, manual changes can be made using either the selector lever or
the paddle-shifts on the steering wheel's horizontal bars. And don't forget
that all-weather traction is faithfully looked after 24/7 by Audi's legendary
quattro permanent all-wheel drive system. For the record, during normal driving
power is distributed to the axles with a modest emphasis towards the rear.
If a Q7 is on your list you can be as quick or as green as you wish the
'max power' deal comes in the shape of the 493bhp 6.0-litre V12; 'max green'
in the form of the 236bhp 3.0-litre Clean Diesel. But, as we mentioned earlier,
it's easy to see why the 3.0-litre TDI is where the smart money goes.
Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro Clean Diesel S line | £41,790
Maximum speed: 135mph | 0-62mph: 8.1 seconds | Overall test MPG: 28.9mpg
Power: 236bhp | Torque: 405lb ft | CO2 219g/km