Anyone familiar with the ungainly, hard-edged oxen cart that the Audi Q7 used to be will likely find themselves in awe of the new model’s well-oiled suppleness.
With optional air springs fitted, it appears to have taken its cue more from Land Rover than from its SUV-shaped rivals at BMW, the suspension favouring a permissive long-wave fluency over most ground that allows the Q7’s body a hefty degree of congenial float.
There’s the odd niggle in the ride over pockmarks and expansion joints at low speeds, but we’re inclined to blame that on our test car’s 21in alloy wheels. Otherwise, entwined with the steady hum of effortless power and the indulgent embrace of the surroundings, the general experience is one of serene agreeableness.
At which point, one suspects, many buyers’ expectations will have been met. Some may notice that the Q7 has linear steering and generally goes where you point it, but few will complain that the directness and patent lack of heft in that steering mean that the car clearly isn’t as intuitive in its handling as the equivalent Range Rover Sport.
Whereas the Range Rover disguises its imposing mass by immaculate management of responsiveness and rate of turn, the Audi doesn’t. As a result, the saloon-car quickness of the Q7’s rack occasionally feels a little incoherent, given the straight-ahead insouciance of the body control.
Granted, with a roundabout-sized application of lock, the air springs and adaptive dampers rise to the occasion to stop your buttock cheeks having to do the same. But the ramping up of firmness doesn’t come as naturally or imperceptibly as in the better-handling Land Rover.
Still, that’s a marginal shortcoming in the long run. We’d find a Range Rover Sport easier to place on the road and more engaging to drive quickly, but the Q7’s shortfall in such areas isn’t serious enough to take more than a faint edge off its more ingratiating qualities.
An intimate relationship with road is rarely high on Audi’s wish list anyway, and in a two-tonne, seven-seat SUV, the resulting detachment could even be considered desirable.