2 December 2004

Just a week after the second-generation BMW X5 broke cover (Autocar, 23 November), Audi’s belated entry into the SUV arena has been caught by our scoop photographers. Due to greet the public at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, the new luxury off-roader stays close to the classy styling of the Pikes Peak concept car displayed in 2002.

The Q7 is based on modified underpinnings from the Volkswagen Touareg and its Porsche Cayenne sister car, although a longer rear overhang is said to have liberated enough space inside for a third row of seats in a seven-seat 2+3+2 configuration.

To keep weight and costs down, Audi has avoided much of the Touareg’s hardcore four-wheel-drive componentry, including its low-range gearing and locking differentials, the Q7 aiming for more convincing on-road qualities than out-right ability in the rough stuff. Lower-end models get steel springs, with more expensive versions getting air springs with variable ride height.

Among the engines planned for the Q7 at launch in late 2005 are a 4.2-litre V8 petrol and 3.0-litre common-rail diesel. They will be joined later by 3.2-litre V6 petrol, 4.0-litre common-rail diesel and 6.0-litre W12 petrol units. Also under consideration is a sporting QS7 performance flagship, possibly powered by a new 500bhp 5.2-litre V10 engine, to rival the likes of the BMW X5 4.8iS and forthcoming supercharged Range Rover Sport.

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The Q7 is among a range of new off-roaders being readied by Audi. Joining it in 2007 will be a smaller Q5 model, based on a modified version of the platform that underpins the A4. A second-generation Allroad is also said to have been signed off for production.

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