Mercifully, the new Q7 is slightly smaller and substantially lighter than the previous model, which would be more of an achievement were the original Q7 not in command of its own gravitational force, such was its mass.
Despite this, the new Q7 on air springs is a more ponderous feeling thing than an X5, Cayenne or RR Sport. Body roll is substantial but progressive even in Sport, and while it feels precise enough to thread with conviction down a B-road, it doesn’t have the incisive responses of those more sporting rivals. We’d avoid the £1100 four-wheel steer option, which shrinks the low-speed turning circle by a metre to 11.4m, but otherwise results in slightly inconsistent feeling steering response. The standard steering is good enough, with decent bite and enough feedback to make the Q7 (complete with its permanent, 40/60 rear-biased four-wheel drive) feel implacable in every situation.
What is impressive is the ride comfort. We haven’t tried a car on standard steel springs yet, but given that the air springs make it feel composed and settled even over high-frequency undulations, unless you hit a really sizeable mid-corner bump, it’s an option that could well be worth adding. The air springs also have the added benefit of improving ground clearance, and increasing towing capacity from 2800kg up to 3500kg.
Between a silky powertrain, excellent refinement (but for a quite noticeable burr of road noise over coarse surfaces) and cushy ride, the Q7 proves a really relaxing steer.
Then there’s the cabin. If Audi designed hotel rooms, you’d never have to call reception to ask how to turn the wardrobe’s mood lighting effects off, and there would be a plug point right next to the bedside table. They know just where you want everything, and it all feels reassuringly expensive. It’s subdued, sure, some might say boring, but it really does work well and every shape of driver will be catered for by the electrically-adjustable seat.
There’s loads of room in the middle row of three seats, too, the outer two of which slide as well as recline. Flipping them forwards for access to the third row is a bit tricky, but could be done one-handed whilst clinging to a recalcitrant toddler. The rearmost seats fold up and down electronically, which is great, although there’s nowhere to stow the tonneau cover that you’ll have to wrestle from the boot first.
A shorter adult will be okay for brief journeys in these rearmost seats, but they’re better reserved for kids, who won’t have their knees pressed up against the seat backs.
A huge 770-litre boot (albeit one without a space saver tyre, unless you pay £250 and opt to lose the third row of seats), and stacks of standard equipment including sat-nav, LED headlights, keyless go and four-zone climate control completes the Audi’s arsenal of temptations and practicalities.