What is it?
This is the second-generation Audi Q7 in pre-production form. We've been invited to Namibia to join Audi development boss Ulrich Hackenberg and a team of Ingolstadt engineers on their last validation drive in extreme conditions on a mixture of course-chip bitumen, gravel roads, rocky trails and sandy tracks before the SUV heads into UK showrooms at a starting price of £50,340.
Departing in every area of construction from its predecessor, the new Q7 is the first model to be based around Audi’s new, second-generation MLB platform. The multi-material structure is also earmarked to underpin upcoming successor models to the second-generation Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg as well as the eagerly awaited Bentley Bentayga and a whole new generation of Audi models, including next year’s all-new A4.
Audi says the new platform offers far greater modularity than the older MLB structure and is key to a significant 325kg reduction in kerb weight over the first-generation Q7 thanks to the use of of hot formed steel and aluminium within the body, a heavily revised suspension featuring a greater number of aluminium components and the adoption of aluminium doors.
Up close, the new Q7 appears to be a fair bit smaller and generally less imposing than its predecessor, almost like high-riding estate with oversized wheel houses. These impressions are backed up by the dimensions. At 5050mm in length, 1970mm in width and 1741mm in height, the new Q7 is 370mm shorter and 15mm narrower than the outgoing model while sharing the same height.
The wheelbase has also been reduced, but only by 10mm at 2990mm, while the tracks are increased by 29mm and 11mm respectively front and rear to 1679mm and 1691mm.
You won’t have any trouble distinguishing Ingolstadt’s flagship SUV from its many competitors. Key styling cues, such as the bold single-frame grille, have been retained, although the surfacing treatment is now tauter than before, giving the new Q7 a more athletic look. Numerous crease lines within the flanks also give the impression that it sits closer to the ground.
A series of new aerodynamic refinements, including extensive underbody cladding to smooth air flow and a grille with flaps that automatically close to reduce wind turbulence when engine bay cooling is not required, have also netted the new Q7 a impressive drag co-efficient of 0.32.