Auto

Audi Q7 resets boundaries

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer

Friday, August 18, 2017

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WHEN Audi first stepped into the sport utility vehicle market, it did so with the Audi Q7 in 2005. Others had been there first, but Audi did it better by creating one of its longest-running and best-selling models. Since then its role as the flagship of the Q-models hasn't waned.

If there is an automotive analogy for trickle-down economics, then the Audi Q7 would be it, for the rest of the Q-models all stem from the Audi Q7. The familial design cues are there: large stately grill flanked on either side by the latest in headlight technology, chiselled lines, and the curves that make up rear quarter. These all combine to give it an imposing elegance. Walking out to see it in one's garage or the average car park, it will never be mistaken for anything else.

The size continues inside. Premium means space, and the Audi Q7 has loads of it. It has to in order to seat seven in luxury. All that interior space is covered in leather, soft-touch materials and high-tech equipment. The front seats adjust ad infinitum, electronically, of course, for the perfect driving or seating position. Second-row passengers have to do things manually, but all three middle seats slide backwards and forwards. Third-row occupants, whose seats fold out of the floor electronically, can be best described as being in their own postcode of luxury; air conditioning, cup-holders and the stereo system all still easily meeting their demands. If the cargo isn't human and rather large, then the two rear rows can go flat, leaving a cavernous space that would make most commercial van owners jealous.

This still leaves the front row, pleasantly designed with its sweeping vents slicing through the middle of the dashboard. However, it's the full-fat Audi MMI system that takes centre stage, especially since it's paired with the standard Audi Virtual Cockpit, a high-resolution instrument cluster that is configurable with the touch of a button. It even manages to overshadow the MMI's pad equipped with handwriting recognition, allowing users to write the letters of whatever they may be trying to access, be it location or contact name. Other than having to use the MMI system's screen for its feed from the parking sensors and cameras, and a bit of configuration, drivers can let it disappear into the dashboard to use the information being streamed directly in front of them.

Every other conceivable driving option is automated, leaving one to either waft along in a cocoon of silence, or enjoy the driving experience. The latter is where the Audi Q7's size seems to disappear. Its powerful engine choices means it's never left wanting for acceleration. Cycle through the usual array of Audi drive modes of shift for yourself, and what should be a large SUV simply shrinks around the driver, whether it's dealing with the cut and thrust of Corporate Area traffic or those long highway commutes.

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