No sweat - Audi SQ7
An important part of the recently facelifted Q7 range is the S model, which is as rorty and sporty as the big seven seater gets, for there is no RS.
Not that we’re aggrieved, considering how this goes. And so the bits that make the SQ7 hum have largely been left untouched in the upgrade, the work focusing on styling revisions outside and tech updates in the cabin.
This was one of the first 48V offerings on the market here, the SQ7 with an electric compressor for its 4.2-litre V8 diesel to help lessen the effects of turbo lag. And at the time, it was impressive. However, driving this and the AMG GLE 53 on the same day, the 53’s response is more immediate. The SQ7 still gets off the mark smartly, you can hear the initial whizz of the charger getting things started before it ramps up markedly from 1300rpm. Thankfully the idle-stop system isn’t overly active as it’s not the quickest with the restarts, meaning there’s added lethargy from a dead stop. However, you’re unlikely to grizzle about the power delivery once it’s online; this pulls like a team of bullocks through to 4500rpm. There’s just a torrent of torque and power. Despite its domineering outputs, the long term fuel use on the trip computer suggests an average of 10.8L/100km over 2500km. And getting to work and back over a mix of suburban and motorway routes, that’s what it’ll do. Not bad for a behemoth with the ability to ferry seven people, crack 100 in 4.8sec and tow 3500kg. It’s not advisable to attempt the trifecta simultaneously however.
With air sprung suspension, it has a broad ability to do what is asked of it. This delivers good everyday ride comfort for what is essentially a luxury SUV. It’s quiet and compliant on its oversized alloys, and it can sail over speed humps as if they were flat.
The V8 is hushed when you’re just creaming the low end urge and the auto will encourage economy by opting against a downshift when asked for more, the 900Nm plenty capable of pulling tall gears. Full thrust is never too far away; just floor the pedal and hold on. Pulling the stubby gearlever into its S mode will suffice should you require more pep in its step; it’s better than having to fiddle around with the not-so-easy-to-get-at Drive Select button. And there is a stupefying range of drive modes to shuffle through; Off road, All road, Efficiency, Comfort, Auto and Dynamic, and leaving nothing to chance, a configurable Individual mode. Just leave it in Auto and be done with it we think.
The SQ7 comes standard with four-wheel steer, making it easier to park the beast for it trims the turning circle. It’s also effective when you don your Audi Sport racing gloves for that record-breaking run to the bach. Also helping in that regard, this is fitted with the $13,000 Performance Package adding the torque vectoring sport diff along with active roll stabilisation. Their helping hand is highlighted in wet conditions when you’re probably going a little quicker than necessary as the big SQ7 remains flat and sure footed through the curves. Though the helm isn’t brimming with feel, the turn in is quick for such a big thing. The SQ7 gives you a certain faith in the engineering that it will do better than you expect. The front keeps sticking, despite the slick road underneath, the rear diff doing its thing to drive the nose into the bend. In Auto mode, the dampers deal to the bumps while the roll is flattened by the active bars. They all work to ease the strain of the substantial mass, making it less demanding, effortless to drive in challenging conditions.
While the exterior restyle is harder to pick on the SQ7 than it is on the regular Q7, it still looks dominant with masses of grille up front and big wheels filling the prominent arches. The interior has been brought up to date too, with the centre stack sporting the duo of touchscreens controlling everything and divulging all the info. It certainly all looks the part, though useful cabin storage is still light. There’s no lack of room in the middle row of this SUV, though the pews in the rear are best reserved for the kids, or kept stowed to enjoy the generous boot space on offer.
The SQ7 is similarly priced to the GLE 53 at $184,900, and is remarkably similar in many ways, particularly the way they drive. It’ll come down to whether you want a trick petrol or a massive diesel, as both are ruthlessly good.
Model Audi SQ7 Price $184,900
Engine 3956cc, V8, TDI, 320kW/900Nm
Transmission 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Vitals 4.79sec 0-100km/h, 7.6L/100km, 200g/km, 2487kg