Manufacturers that consider themselves premium no longer countenance the idea of building a large SUV that could be thought sluggish.

Most are powered by powerful six-cylinder diesel engines, and those that are not (such as the Volvo XC90) get cutting-edge four-pots. The stupendously heavy outgoing Land Rover Discovery is one of the slowest, yet even that beats 10.0sec to 60mph and comes with 443lb ft of torque to help it along.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The Q7 is impeccably hushed and refined, the audible presence of that engine and the intrusion of road and wind noise reduced to a remarkably quiet 68dB murmur at 70mph

The previous Q7, even in its lowliest guise, was a decent performer, and the old 4.2-litre V8 version was properly (and improbably) quick. The latest range-topping Q7, aided by its terrific weight loss, continues in the vein of that old V8 model, even though it develops 67bhp less.

Audi claims 6.5sec to 62mph for our test car, and we validated that at 6.2sec to 60mph. That makes the Q7 quicker than the current stock Porsche Cayenne Diesel by the best part of a second.

That’s impressive, but probably not the criterion on which it’ll be judged day to day. The reduction in mass notwithstanding, the Q7 remains a two-tonne, high-sided prospect, so standing starts conducted at full tilt still seem a little gauche.

Instead, it’s the ease with which the big Audi merges with traffic, makes it to motorway speeds and overtakes lesser mortals that defines the quality of progress that has become inexorably linked to upmarket SUVs.

In all, it copes admirably, the engine’s 443lb ft of torque readily available from 1500rpm and capable of sending the lightened Q7 from 30-70mph in the same 6.2sec it takes to reach 60mph from standstill.

Administered by the eight-speed gearbox, the thrust is typically well mannered and the V6 barely tightens up at all before upshifting at 4500rpm. Moreover, the car is impeccably hushed and refined, the audible presence of that engine and the intrusion of road and wind noise reduced to a remarkably quiet 68dB murmur at 70mph.

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