What is it?
The latest iteration of Audi’s big-selling Q7 SUV. Anyone who believes big off-roaders are losing their appeal clearly hasn’t been following the impressive sales numbers being racked up the Q7.
Launched little over a year ago now, sales of Ingolstadt’s boldly styled SUV have now surpassed the 88,000 mark globally. So it’s little surprise that Audi has wasted little time in attempting to ratchet up the Q7’s appeal even further.
In a move that adds a further dimension to its already impressive credentials, the big seven-seater now comes with a powerful 4.2-litre V8 TDI engine previously reserved for the Audi A8.
The twin-turbocharged unit complements the existing 3.0-litre V6 TDI that has accounted for over 90 per cent of Q7 sales in the UK thus far.
What’s it like?
With a solid 326bhp at 3750rpm, the 4.2 TDI gives away just 24bhp to its 4.2-litre petrol V8 sibling, itself reason enough to choose the new oil-burner over its petrol equivalent.
That might sound impressive but in fact, you can forget the power rating. It’s the new engine’s veritable mountain of torque that gives the 4.2 TDI the edge. With a whopping 560lb ft from 1800rpm through to 2800rpm, it is simply in a class of its own for outright shove.
The result is astounding performance for a car boasting a frontal area to rival your average two-bedroom house and weighing all of 2450kg in seven-seat guise.
With around 440lb ft available at idle, step-off from standstill is aggressive. The Q7 leaps off the line in a manner totally at odds with its oversized dimensions at the slightest nudge of the throttle.
In fact, the new V8 diesel produces so much torque that the gearbox’s electronics are programmed to momentarily reduce it in first and second gears to protect the drivetrain.
Once under way, acceleration builds rapidly. Audi figures put the 0-62mph sprint at just 6.4sec, and after running the new Q7 at full tilt for an extended period on an autobahn heading out of Munich, we can fully vouch for its claimed 147mph top speed.
The sequential operation of the engine’s turbochargers ensures a smooth delivery without any discernible peaks and troughs as you push up to the 4500rpm red line. And refinement is first rate: any engine noise is drowned out at motorway speeds by the wind roar created by the Q7’s enormous exterior mirrors and, on the car we drove, its 295/40 ZR20 Continental Contact Cross tyres.
The downside to all this is the new engine’s weight: a hefty 257kg placed over the front axle gives it a distinctly nose-heavy stance on winding roads.
Should I buy one?
It’s certainly a better prospect than the V8 petrol. Keep it on the straight and narrow and this is a hugely desirable car that, by class standards, is satisfyingly economical with a combined consumption of 25.4mpg.