After a near two-year hiatus, the Audi Q7 is back in India. And much has changed since it was last on sale.
What is it?
Audi's India line-up has seen a lot of churn over the past two years, with many familiar models bowing out over the transition to BS6 norms, only to return later in 'new and improved' avatar. The Q7 you see here is the latest returnee to the Audi range.
Talking points include revised styling, a redone interior, more features and, crucially, the shift to petrol-only power. A sticker job this ain't.
What’s it like on the outside?
Clean cut and athletic, the second-gen Audi Q7 is a big departure in looks from the original big and burly Q7. This facelifted Gen 2 model brings back some of the visual drama of the OG Q7.
Larger grille with vertical slats lend the Q7 added flash value.
The focal point up front is undoubtedly the larger, more in-your-face grille. Outlined in chrome and embellished by vertical slats, the grille is big on flash and hence polarising, but it also singlehandedly gives the Q7 more presence. Also new are the sharper cut and larger headlamps that sport a new LED light signature, and also put on a slick light show on locking/unlocking. A new bumper with larger air dams completes the redone front end.
There’s been no alteration to the 5m-long Q7’s basic high riding wagon-like shape, and stylistic changes at the sides are limited too. The foot board and stylised sills you see on our test vehicle are among the optional accessories you could add to jazz up your Q7, though more attractive wheels would be numero uno on our list of enhancements; the standard fit 19-inch rims are just too simple in looks.
19-inch alloys look boring. Chunky 255/55 R19 tyres are absorbent.
At the back, the Q7 sports slimmer full LED tail lamps that are set amid a flatter tail gate. A full width chrome strip up top and another one lower down on the restyled bumper are new too.
What's it like on the inside?
From the driver's seat, there's little to link the 2022 Q7 to the model that launched in 2015. Audi has gone the distance to change the entire dashboard with the twin touchscreen arrangement bringing the Q7's interior in line with the latest high-end Audis. There's a 10.1-inch screen for frequently accessed functions and an 8.6-inch touchscreen lower down for the climate control system. While the screens are slickly integrated, smooth to use and even feature haptic feedback, the lower one does require you to momentarily take your eyes off the road for even a simple adjustment.
Upper screen is for infotainment while lower screen is for climate control.
The third screen of interest is for the digital dials. The Q7 uses the latest 'Virtual Cockpit' that brings in crisper graphics with the same functionality. You can toggle between different layouts, including one that shows a full screen map, though it would have been nicer still if it could display Google Maps navigation too.
Full screen map one of many screens on Virtual Cockpit digital dials.
The trio of screens and tastefully done ambient lighting (there are 30 colours to choose from) come together to give the cabin a very new-age look, and there's no faulting cabin quality either. Everything feels plush and rich.
Drivers will like the view out (helped by the low dash sill) and their seats for comfort. Middle row occupants are also well catered to. The second row seats are well cushioned, are adjustable for backrest angle when set at their rearmost position, and offer lots by way of legroom. The large windows and panoramic sunroof add to the airy feeling inside.
However, the Q7's third row remains a bit of a miss. The damped movement of the middle row seat fold is nice, but the resulting aperture to the very back isn't the largest and space there is limited. It's fine for kids and acceptable for medium-sized adults on short stints, but a no-no for anyone larger.
Third row is a tight fit for large adults. Seating is knees-up too.
With all seats up, there's space for soft bags. Folding the third row seats down opens up 865 litres of room, and there's even the option to fold the second row down, taking luggage room to a massive 2,050 litres. Notably, the spare tyre that used to come awkwardly mounted vertically within the cabin is no longer included. Audi says the switch to run-flat tyres does away with the need for a spare tyre.
What features does it get?
The 2022 Audi Q7 will be available in Premium Plus and Technology trims, and you'd be best advised to spend the little extra for the latter. Features exclusive to the Q7 Technology include Matrix LED headlamps, an air fragrance package, a crisp sounding 19-speaker B&O sound system, brilliant 3D parking cameras that show an augmented reality image of your vehicle in its surrounding and an auto park feature that not only steers the vehicle into place but also controls accelerator and brake inputs.
Panoramic sunroof is standard fit on the Q7.
As standard, the Q7 gets a panoramic sunroof, adaptive air suspension, four-zone climate control, adjustable ambient lighting, powered front seats, virtual cockpit digital dials, dual touchscreens with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Buyers can also opt for a rear seat entertainment package from Audi's accessories list.
In terms of safety equipment, the latest Q7 gets eight airbags and ESC, among other electronic aids, and also features lane keep assist with steering intervention.
What's it like to drive?
For those who associate big SUVs with big diesel engines, this would be the right time to reiterate that the Q7 is a petrol-only model now. That charming 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is gone for good. However, Audi has a fine replacement in the 3.0-litre, turbo-petrol V6 that makes 340hp and 500Nm.
Out goes the 45 TDI V6 diesel and in comes the 55 TFSI V6 petrol engine.
The engine is the strong and silent type, running quiet in average city conditions, but ever ready with more to give for a quick overtake. It doesn't quite have the same reserve of power as the old V6 diesel engine, but the engine feels flexible and readily changes character should you want more from it. There's a muted snarl from the engine bay when you press harder and acceleration is brisk through the rev range. Audi claims a 0-100kph time of 5.9 seconds which is quite something for an SUV so large. Perhaps more relavant for typical buyers is that the Q7 is a relaxed cruiser and gobbles large distances with seemingly little effort. The 8-speed gearbox goes through the ratios unobtrusively too.
Comfortable ride and excellent noise insulation make Q7 a relaxing long distance cruiser.
As before, the brilliant sound-deadening that effectively cuts outside sounds deserves mention. And again, just as before, the Q7 feels like an easy big SUV to drive rather than an outright entertaining big SUV to drive. Sure, there are modes for the steering, engine, gearbox and all, but you'd find that the Q7 feels best in its comfort-oriented settings. Grip levels are good and it turns neatly too.
Ride comfort remains one of the Q7's strengths with the air suspension and chunky 255/55 R19 tyres softening the blow from the worst of our roads. There's the option to raise ride height should you need to clear an obstacle on the way to your farmhouse and there's Quattro all-wheel drive should things get tricky in inclement weather.
Should you buy one?
That the Audi Q7 is a petrol-only model means it won't be in the consideration set of many buyers. However, with developments like the 10-year registration validity on diesels in markets like Delhi, and the evening out of petrol and diesel prices, there is also a growing buyer base open to the idea of going petrol.
Tail lights are full LED units and feature swiping dynamic turn indicators.
And it is this lot of buyers who will find a fine big SUV in the updated Q7. The updates outside and inside have greatly enhanced the Q7's appeal and the petrol engine is very likeable in its own right. It's not the most comfortable three-row SUV or the most entertaining model of its type, but anyone looking for a refined and relaxing luxury SUV will be charmed by the new Q7.
We expect prices for the new Q7 in the Rs 80 lakh-90 lakh (estimated, ex-showroom) bracket.
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