The Q7 is a rather obvious but effective symbol of the sudden, puffer-fish-style expansion of Audi’s model range.
Ten years ago, this car maker didn’t build SUVs. Although it had plenty of quattro-branded four-wheel-drive know-how, it had never taken that next big logical step. It had only recently started making a Sportback in the guise of the previous-generation five-door A3 and had yet to launch the R8 sports car. When Audi launched the original Q7, it was a different form.
Now, as we welcome the second generation of Ingolstadt’s unashamedly full-sized luxury 4x4, it is one of three Q cars in the range. By the time the next Q7 comes along, its high-riding siblings could number as many as six, certainly four with the Q2 on its way. That would be an astonishing rate of expansion, but not necessarily a foolish one.
Audi SUVs have quickly become big business. From a standing start, the previous Q7 sold fairly strongly and consistently across Europe and North America throughout its lifecycle.
It didn’t trouble the volumes of the segment leaders, but since it’s larger and slightly pricier than the average large luxury 4x4, that was predictable. But the Q5 and Q3 have smashed every sales target that Audi has put in front of them. If this new bigger brother for them can replicate just a bit of that success, it’ll be a huge money-spinner for Audi.
As you’re about to read, Audi is evidently determined to deliver that greater success, having thrown the kitchen sink at the new Q7 in terms of new platform, powertrain, chassis and infotainment technology. This car is the first of many new Audis (and Porsches and Bentleys) based on the firm’s new MLB-Evo platform. It’s a bit of a strategic milestone. Already it has spawned a hybrid Q7, the monstrous SQ7 and the highly anticipated, customisable, height-of-luxury Bentley Bentayga.
Audi’s claim is that it’s also advanced, lightweight, aerodynamic and efficient – at the same time as being luxurious, refined, fine handling, capable and laden with sophistication. It sounds like a serious piece of work. But is it any more discreet than the previous Q7, or any easier to like? Let’s see.