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A very refined engine, but we'd still go for the diesel.

What is it?

Audi's enormous SUV fitted with the new 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine, producing 276bhp and 266lb ft.

That might sound like a lot of engine, but at 2235kg in seven-seat form as tested (plus a fair bit of added weight from optional extras), the Q7 is a lot of car.

That's why the engine range has so far been limited to a 3.0-litre diesel and a 4.2-litre V8 petrol. A rather good 4.2-litre V8 diesel is also on the way.

What's it like?

Big. From the outside the Q7 is unapologetically huge, and though it shrinks around you when you’re at the wheel, it really is quite wide.

The Q7's bulk means that the engine has to work quite hard, especially as the full 276bhp isn't available until 6200rpm. All 266lb ft of torque is available from 2500rpm, but it still doesn't feel quite as rapid as you’d like. Fill the car with seven people and luggage, and we suspect it will feel distinctly tardy.

Even so, the petrol V6 is very refined. When it is audible, it's hushed – at motorway speeds you hear wind roar more than revs. The standard six-speed automatic gearbox is also beautifully smooth-shifting.

Otherwise it's standard Q7 – a cabin that's better appointed and more comfortable than my living room, a generally very good ride on the air suspension (only marred when hitting small potholes and the like), and surprisingly agile handling.

Should I buy one?

Only if you absolutely have to have a petrol Q7. Even then, we'd suggest you save up for the V8. The 3.6 petrol costs pretty much the same as the 3.0 TDI, and for its lower CO2 emissions, better economy and extra 103lb ft of torque, that's the one we'd choose. Until the 4.2 TDI goes on sale in the UK, that is.

Rory Lumsdon

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