2016 Audi Q7 3.0TDI review
Isaac Bober’s 2016 Audi Q7 3.0TDI review with pricing, specs, performance, ride and handling, verdict and score.
In a nutshell: The Audi Q7 3.0TDI adds grunt and fuel efficiency to the Q7 range, as well as being one of the most luxurious seven-seaters on the market.
2016 Audi Q7 3.0TDI
Price From $96,300+ORC Price as tested $111,095+ORC Warranty three years, unlimited kilometres Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel Power 160kW at 3250-4750rpm Torque 500Nm of torque from 1250-3000rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive all-wheel drive Body 5.05m (long); 1.97m (wide); 1.74m (high) Angles unknown Turning Circle 12.4m Clearance 174mm Towing 3500kg (braked) Towball download 350kg Weight 2135kg GCW 6440kg Spare Space saver Fuel Tank 100 litres Thirst 5.8L/100km (combined) 6.2L/100km as tested
AUDI HAS PLENTY of all-wheel drive know-how, winning two World Rally Championships in the 1980s with its Quattro all-wheel drive rally cars. Then along came the Audi quattro (lowercase q for road, and uppercase Q for race), but it was more than 30 years before the brand built its first SUV… the Q7 (oh, okay, so Audi’s SUV range is an exception to the rule). The year was 2005.
That car immediately shocked automotive writers who weren’t used to seeing the four rings on a vehicle so big. Indeed, when it lobbed onto the market, only the Land Rover Discovery offered any competition in regards to its seven seats. That’s all changed and these bulky-looking large SUVs are now dime-a-dozen and nowhere as offensive to our eyes as once they were.
What is it?
As the name suggests the Audi Q7 is a seven-seat SUV. And while this current generation Q7 arrived in Australia back in September 2015, the model we’re testing here arrived earlier this year (March). Enter the Q7 3.0TDI; our car is the entry level 160kW variant.
With all car makers looking to shed weight to improve performance and save fuel, the Q7 3.0TDI has managed to lose, depending of course on the equipment specification, an impressive 240kg of weight. But at more than 5m long it’s just as big and roomy as ever, offering seven seats.
What do we think of the looks?
When the Q7 first came out the world’s motoring scribblers went a little bit loopy, describing it as a behemoth. Sure, that first Q7 did actually look like someone had shoved a set of wheels onto an over-inflated puffer fish, a look which was toned down and seemed more suited to the first Q5, but that was in the early noughties before the SUV craze really took hold. Indeed, before other car makers began offering luxury seven-seats SUVs. These days no-one bats an eyelid if they see a Q7 drive past…
Fast forward to now, and while this second-generation Q7 is still a big vehicle it’s actually shorter than its predecessor (37mm) and 15mm narrower. All up, it measures 5.05m long, 1.97m wide and 1.74m high (on standard steel suspension). Audi has stripped 240kg out of the Q7; 71kg from the body; 24kg from the doors; 67kg out of the chassis; and 20kg out of the engine; and 19kg from the exhaust system.
Personally, I think the Q7 looks good now. The rounded edges have been knocked off for a sharper-edged shape. The Singleframe grille and the new-look headlights work well together, and Audi even reckons it’s dipped into its past with the pumped wheel arches of the Q7 paying homage to the bulging arches on quattro models of yore… I can’t quite see it myself. You?
Being Audi, there are numerous little trim odds and ends that can be added to the Q7 to help make your car stand out from the crowd. There’s also an S line package that changes the bumpers, door trims and roof spoiler, while the slats on the Singleframe grille are painted in dark-grey gloss. Depending on the car, the cost of the S line package is either $8760 (160kW) or $7460 (200kW).
What’s the interior like and how practical is it?
Despite being slightly more compact than its predecessor this new Q7 is actually more spacious on the inside, offering plenty of room for five adults. Yes, there are two powered seats in the third row, and you can raise each one individually which is good, but while the seat itself and the head, shoulder and elbow room is great, the foot room is tight indeed for an adult. Even with the second row slid forwards I still had to turn my feet to the side, which wouldn’t be a comfortable way to travel for any length of time. So, leave the third row for children in child or booster seats, or for those kids who’ve outgrown booster seats.
The third-row seats in the Q7 are approved for child seats (for children weighing up to 36kg) and offer ISOFIX mounts as well as top tether anchors. The second-row seats offer ISOFIX and top tether anchors for all three seat positions.
And now back to the front of the Q7. Slide in behind the wheel and the Q7 feels big, and I mean big as in roomy, not big as in ridiculous. The seats, according to Audi, are 19kg lighter than those in the predecessor but while they feel quite plush and comfortable, they are very broad in the base and the back with little side bolstering. The lack of side bolstering isn’t a criticism, though, without bolstering in the base you can swing in and out easily and given this is a seven-seat SUV, owners are unlikely to be heading out and hunting apexes in it…
What about the back seat? Again, the back of the Q7 is roomy. The seats split fold in the ratio of 35:30:35 and can be reclined through 16 increments while the whole bench, or just one or two of the seats can be slid forwards or backwards by 11cm. The doors will hold a 1.5-litre bottle securely, and while there’s no USB outlets for back seat passengers (there are two in the front) the Q7 is able to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot via Audi Connect (which is an extra cost).
The boot offers 295 litres of space when all seven seats are occupied and while this doesn’t sound huge it’s more than enough to hold the weekly shop, and more. As standard there’s a cargo net, a couple of tie-downs, an aluminium scuff plate for the load lip, a cargo blind and some hooks in the boot. There’s no 12V outlet, but the third row seats can be folded electrically via two buttons in the boot.
With the third row seats folded flat into the floor there’s 770 litres of storage space and the load lip is now 5cm lower than before at 787mm, making lifting things in and out of the boot pretty easy. Drop the third and second row seats, and the boot space expands to 1955 litres.
The tailgate is electric and can be opened by the stab of a foot under the rear bumper (you can close the boot the same way which is good when your hands are full). Or, if you’re a little self-conscious, yes, the Q7 did leave me looking a bit of a tit waggling my foot under the bumper searching for the sweet spot, then just use the button on either the key fob or near the grab handle on the tailgate.
What’s the communications and infotainment system like?
The Audi Q7 comes with Audi’s excellent virtual cockpit, which is a 12.3-inch full-colour high-definition screen (1440x540px), indeed, Audi claims the needle for the rev counter is calculated 60 times a second to ensure its action is fluid.
In the centre of the dashboard is the 8.3-inch MMI monitor which rises or lowers every time the car is turned on or off. In typical Audi fashion there’s a rotary dial and shortcut buttons to access the various menu functions, but the system also includes a touchpad.
Starting with the touchpad, I’ll come back to the other elements, I’ve got to say I was impressed. I was able to enter characters that the system quickly recognised; it didn’t misread a single scrawl and my finger writing is not great. To use the system, you simply rest your wrist on the gear lever and then run your finger across the pad and then tap it to ‘enter’ the character… much like you do with a trackpad on a laptop. It’s great, but just not for when you’re on the move; leave the passenger to input the details.
Back to the virtual cockpit… I remember when these first appeared on the Range Rover years and year ago and I could help but marvel at them as a gimmick. Virtual displays are no longer a gimmick, and the one in the Q7 is excellent. We expect more from our cars and for them to make better use of the internet too, and while I’m not a fan of using my car to update social media, I mean, why? I do like the fact the Q7 can use Google Earth and Google Street View, via Audi Connect ($750) – this system enables the car to act as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Input a destination and, if there’s an appropriate data signal then the map will be displayed via Google Earth, if there’s not, it will default to the usual map view which is still very good. The map keeps up with the car very well (and inputting a destination is super easy) and even when purposely trying to confuse the thing, I couldn’t. When searching for a destination, or a particular landmark the nav system uses, like an internet search, predictive search to find what you’re looking and starts making suggestions after the first few letters have been input. I used it and it works well, searching your immediate vicinity based on your input.
Beyond maps, the virtual cockpit gives the driver the option of a number of different views from a typical tacho and speedo view with a small display in the centre showing music or directions, or you can expand the mapping component and push the two dials to the outer edge of the screen.
Connecting your phone via Bluetooth is very easy and the phone call quality is excellent, at both ends of the call. There are USB ports for connection of other devices and as a cost option you can request a DVD changer and digital radio and TV tuners.
What’s the performance like?
The Q7 3.0TDI is available in two states of tune with its 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel V6 engine producing either 160kW or 200kW. Prices start from $96,300+ORC and $103,900+ORC. Both variants are quattro all-wheel drive and run an eight-speed tiptronic transmission. Our test car ran the entry-level 160kW tune.
Audi claims its engineers have tweaked the new 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 diesel for fuel efficiency and performance compared to the old engine. Indeed, this new engine is 20% more fuel efficient, in 160kW guise than the old motor, with a claimed combined consumption of 5.8L/100km. In our week, we averaged 6.2L/100km and that was achieved on a variety of 100-kilometre-long stretches of highway driving to around town and country drives. We went pretty easy on it, though, as most of the time the kids were in the car.
Our test car, as mentioned offers 160kW at 3250-4750rpm and 500Nm of torque from 1250-3000rpm. Like many diesel passenger vehicles, the Q7 comes with a 24-litre AdBlue tank that is refilled during regular servicing.
While other Audi models use dual-clutch transmission, the Q7 gets a traditional eight-speed torque convertor automatic which is as smooth as silk and impossible to catch napping. And it goes to show that as good and fast as a well-tuned DSG can be, a good, well-tuned automatic is still very hard to beat.
For those looking to go off-road, which would probably be none of you, Audi says the ventilation system for the transmission has been overhauled to keep the thing cool during low-speed rough road driving while vibration dampers ensure the tranny feels as smooth crawling at 15km/h as it does at 80km/h.
The transmission can be left to its own devices in both D for Drive and S for Sport, where Sport increases the shift point and sharpens throttle response. Or, you could take control yourself and shift via the steering mounted paddles, but I don’t know why you’d bother, this isn’t an RS Q3.
If I didn’t already know the Q7 I was testing was the entry-level variant with 160kW and 500Nm of torque, I’d have thought the thing had more grunt. Right from the off the Q7 feels strong and effortless with a simple flex of your big toe all that’s needed to see the thing drop a cog and growl a bit harder.
The Q7 comes standard with stop/start which I don’t have that much of an issue with, unlike some of my colleagues, but the system in the Audi felt particularly slow to me. To the point that whenever it turned off the engine and I stepped off the brake on my way to the throttle (usually most systems have restarted the moment you begin reducing pressure off the brake – lifting your foot), but the Q7 still hadn’t restarted by the time I was on the throttle and pressing it. Hmmm.
What’s the ride and handling like?
The Audi Q7 features quattro all-wheel drive with a usual drive distribution of 40:60, meaning for 40% of drive is sent to the front axle and 60% to the rear. If the system detects wheel slip at either end, it can shuffle drive around, up 70% to the front axle and a maximum of 85% to the rear axle. Meaning, that no matter the situation, the Audi Q7 always sends some drive to both the front and rear axle. This is different to other Audi quattro systems which usually act as front-wheel drive vehicles until slip is detected.
In addition to its quattro all-wheel drive, the Audi Q7 also features torque vectoring which is able to brake an individual ‘inside’ wheel if the system has detected “insufficient load”. That roughly translates to, understeer. So, in the event of understeer, the system will apply light brake pressure to the inside wheel(s), will keep self-steering assistance at ‘neutral’ for longer; if the vehicle detects that it’s veering wide of a corner in normal driving, the self-steering function will try and apply lock to steer you back into the lane, but in an understeer situation that would just exacerbate the grip loss.
But, from my experience, you’d have to be pushing pretty darn hard, or be surprised by a sudden tightening of a corner to fall into understeer.
Our test car rode on steel springs, rather than the adaptive air springs that are available as a cost option, and, to be honest, the Q7 managed to neatly walk the line between comfort and responsiveness. Indeed, the Q7 would have to be one of the most comfortable vehicles I’ve ever driven, with very little bump or jiggle from pockmarks or expansion joints, although I can’t speak for bigger wheeled variants; our test car is standard with 19-inch alloys (but you can get up to 21-inch alloys on the Q7). The ‘smaller’ wheel with more rubber makes for a more insulating ride around town and across bumps and ruts in the road.
While the Q7 doesn’t ever feel like a vehicle you want to rush, the body control is good with the vehicle rolling slightly into corners and then settling neatly on its springs. Part of this composure is down to a 50mm lower centre of gravity, which is mostly because the engine has been mounted slightly lower than it was in this model’s predecessor. That, as mentioned, contributes to a composed ride and cornering stance.
The steering is typical Audi, meaning it’s direct with consistent, if light weight through the wheel and with solidity in the straight-ahead position, but there’s little feel. The lightness to the steering tends to see you dial back your enthusiasm when the road gets twisting, but this will likely be absolutely fine for most buyers.
Probably the best way to describe the ride and handling, is faintly disconnected. And I mean that as a compliment. Remember, this is a big, seven-seat SUV and it’s more desirable to waft about in such a thing than try and tear around the place. Leave that to its little brother the RS Q3.
I didn’t get a chance to tow with the Q7 while I had it, although that wasn’t entirely my fault; the thing didn’t have a tow bar. But the Q7 does boast a 3500kg towing capacity with a 10% towball download capacity of 350kg. Its kerb weight is 2135kg (this allows for a driver weighing 75kg and the fuel tank 90% full) and GVM is 2940kg while the Gross Combined Weight is 6440kg, meaning that after the vehicle is fuelled with passengers and luggage on-board (805kg) you end up with a full 3500kg to spare.
How safe is it?
The Audi Q7, based on EuroNCAP testing, was given a five-star rating by ANCAP when the new-generation model arrived in September last year. This diesel variant, of course, carries the same rating. The Q7 gets airbags for front and back seat passengers, including seat mounted and curtain airbags. The Q7 also offers stability and traction controls as well as pre sense basic and pre sense city. The former is oriented around determining an “unstable driving situation” and then tweaking things like, seatbelts (tightening them), closing the sunroof and windows and then activating the hazard warning lights. Pre-sense city works at speeds up to 85km/h and makes use of a camera up on the windscreen, behind the rear vision mirror, which looks up to 100m down the road and will react to a “situation” by warning the driver via three stages: warning; warning jolt and then automatic emergency braking.
Our test car also came fitted with Audi’s Assistance Package which includes adaptive cruise control and is operational at up to 250km/h, this system includes traffic jam assist which, at up to 65km/h, can see the car follow a convoy, the system uses lane markings and the cars in front of it… it’s worth mentioning this isn’t autonomous system and the driver is required to have their hands on the steering wheel; indeed, the system will remind you if you’ve taken your hands off the wheel.
Another part of this Assistance Package is the predictive efficiency assistant which uses the MMI navigation to determine areas along a chosen route where the driver should slow down. It’ll work even if navigation isn’t actively directing you. This package also offers blind-spot monitoring, which will see an LED in each of the wing mirrors flash if a car is spotted in the blind spot (at up to 70 metres behind) and the driver has indicated to change lanes.
There’s also a park assist system on the Q7 but because I know how to park a car, I didn’t use it. The system does mean you get a 360-degree camera around the car which is excellent.
What’s the price and range?
The price has already been mentioned. Our test car (160kW), as standard, lists from $96,300+ORC, while the 200kW variant lists from $103,900+ORC. The major difference is the engine output. Once you start looking at cost-options, though, the pricing for an option is generally more expensive when adding it to the entry-level model.
The Q7 we tested wasn’t stock standard, and carried Audi Connect at $750, Metallic Paint at $2400, Audi Assistance Package at $4075, the Parking Assistance Package at $1300, LED headlights at $2800, full body paint finish at $1300, and brushed aluminium interior inlays at $2170. All up, it listed from $111,095+ORC.