Hagrid on wheels is how Autocar’s testers describe this generation of the Audi Q7. It’s hard to disagree, Audi’s once top-of-the-range SUV being big but not beautiful. Capable, too, thanks to its standard-fit, four-wheel-drive system, eight-speed automatic gearbox, air suspension and seven seats. And if you can equate having lots of standard comfort features to being likeable, then the Q7 is, again, a lot like Hagrid.
But enough references to bearded giants because the Q7 stands tall and strong enough on its own four alloy wheels (a choice of 19in or 21in, depending on trim). What’s more, it comes to the luxury SUV market offering a unique blend of peerless build quality, restrained but classy styling, decent road manners and stump-pulling diesel power, which, in the 4.2 TDI version, amounts to no less than 590lb ft.
The generation being reviewed here was launched way back in 2006. Then, petrol as well as diesel engines were offered. Later on, in 2008, a 6.0-litre V12 TDI diesel model joined the line-up. The first facelift (new grille, revised interior, a cleaner 3.0-litre diesel engine) came in 2009.
However, it wasn’t until 2011 that the Q7 really came of age, with the deletion of all petrol variants and the bonkers V12 diesel, leaving behind a choice of 3.0-litre and 4.2-litre TDI diesels. It’s this final chapter of the Q7 story we’re interested in here.
The 3.0-litre diesel came in 201bhp and 242bhp outputs. If you’re content to go with the flow, then choose the 201bhp version, but for extra overtaking grunt and more relaxed cruising when fully loaded, you should take the 242bhp model. The key to its appeal is an extra 73lb ft of torque (for 405lb ft in total), which, when you’re talking about a car weighing around 2350kg, is not to be sniffed at. In any case, this more powerful engine dominates the classifieds so you’ll be spoiled for choice. Prices start at £9000.
Less common than even the 201bhp engine is the 335bhp 4.2 TDI diesel. Thirstier and with the same braked towing limit as the 3.0-litre versions, it has only its huge torque output to commend it. It’s not cheap, either. Prices for early, 2011-reg cars with 100,000 miles start at around £15,000.