All Q7s come with the same eight speed automatic gearbox and for almost all customers the high output 3-litre diesel has more than enough performance not to make you feel compromised by the type of car that circumstances have forced upon you.
The engine is notably smooth and tuned in nicely to the shift patterns chosen for the transmission. The way to make the most of it is to keep the revs low and let the torque – of which there is plenty – do the work rather than the power of which there is actually comparatively little given the vast heft of the car it is being asked to propel.
With barely 200bhp to its name, the problem with the entry level engine is not that it’s inadequate for the Q7 but rather it must be worked quite hard to provide the kind of performance you might these days think should be taken for granted in such a car.
If that doesn’t trouble you because you’re happy to knock along with the rest of the traffic then it remains worth a look, although you should bear in mind that not only is it actually very little cheaper to buy than the high output engine, the small fuel consumption advantage it holds on paper would probably be entirely negated by the extra effort it must make to provide decent performance.
Of course the engine we’d all like in our Q7 is the mighty 4.2-litre V8 diesel, a motor strong enough to serve not only in the A8 limousine but also in mildly modified form under the bonnet of the Porsche Cayenne Diesel S, currently the most powerful diesel car on sale.
The problem is not just the five figure premium the engine commands nor the disastrous effect on fuel consumption and range that results, nor even the horrendous tax consequences of its 242g/km CO2 output. The real reason you might think twice before selecting it is that while it turns the Q7 from moderately capable performer into a genuinely quite quick car, if you’re going to pay that much for it, you want massive performance in return, and this it lacks.
A 0-62mph time of 6.4sec for a seven seat, diesel-powered SUV is impressive indeed, but the lighter and even more powerful Porsche requires just 5.7sec to do the same and costs very little more to buy. All told and despite the V8’s wonderful smoothness, you’re almost certain to be better off with a V6.