Audi SQ7

It’s not often that a car comes along that’s sufficiently bold or innovative to leave a mark on the lexicon of automotive technology.

But that’s what the new Audi SQ7 is threatening to do.

Bootlid badges can be deleted as a no-cost option; but not on the front wings or the grille. Surely they should either all stay or all go?

This new, full-size performance SUV merits our attention for several reasons, but most of all for the new 4.0-litre V8 diesel engine that powers it.

Alongside twin sequential turbochargers, the engine uses a particular type of forced induction that has never been seen on a production car before: an electrically powered compressor.

It’s not quite a turbocharger, nor is it quite a supercharger; instead, in Audi technical parlance, it is an EPC, and it has already won Audi an Autocar Award for innovation.

The SQ7 is the first S-badged performance derivative that the Q7 range has had, but it’s not the first go-faster Q7 that Audi has built.

If you can recall the short-lived, ultra-rare Q7 V12 TDI of 2008, you will remember a car with an even more monstrous engine than the SQ7’s, developed from that of the multiple Le Mans-winning R10 TDI race car. As early water-testers into the market for fast luxury SUVs go, the Q7 V12 TDI was as mad as a 24-carat gold ceremonial meat cleaver, but as crazy as the idea sounds, it did exist.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

And it evidently sowed a seed. The idea of a hot Audi 4x4 would be later refined and formalised with the smaller SQ5 (also diesel-powered) in 2013 and then developed further with the RS Q3 in 2015.

While it may not have quite the grunt of its 12-cylinder forebear, the SQ7 should certainly have enough go to put its relative place within the current fast Audi 4x4 hierarchy beyond question.

That advanced TDI engine develops 429bhp and a titanic 664lb ft, giving this two-and-a-bit-tonne seven-seater a sub-five-second 0-62mph acceleration claim that any Autocar road tester worth his salt is duty bound to verify.

Now to find out if the car that Audi’s state-of-the-art 21st century blower powers truly deserves its footnote in history. 

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week