This is the lightly facelifted Audi Q7 3.0 TDI. It is mechanically similar to the outgoing Q7, which means the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel still puts out 240bhp and 56kgm of torque and sends power to all four-wheels via a six speed automatic transmission. Apart from a minor visual refresh, the key change is the new brake energy recovery system. All Q7s now get this feature. It works like this. When you brake or when you are coasting, the kinetic energy you are carting is converted into electrical energy and temporarily stored in the on-board electrical system battery. When you accelerate hard, the stored charge in the battery supports the car’s electrical system, reducing the load on the alternator and marginally improving fuel economy. Atleast, that’s the theory. It’s extremely non-intrusive and if you weren’t told about it, you wouldn’t realize its there.
What Audi have done with the facelift is make numerous detail improvements. On the outside, the headlights are new and get Audi’s LED daytime running lights and the turn indicators are now LED’s, there’s the subtle redesigns for the grille, notably the thick chrome vertical highlights, the front and rear bumpers and their under-protectors are marginally altered, the door mouldings are new as are the tail-lights, which are now LED’s. There are new wheels too, but you would need to be a Q7 addict to really spot some of these changes.
On the inside, the small upgrades to the well constructed interior allow it to keep pace with the ever-rising standards in this area. Inside, the appearance and finish of the instruments and switchgear has been improved, along with the new interior mood-lighting and the latest version of the MMI infotainment system which comes with a 10GB internal hard-drive.
We are happy that the Q7 retains the qualities we loved about it. The functional interiors, the armchair like seats and the smooth, refined diesel engine are exactly how we remember them. This car came with the standard 18-inch wheels and we can confirm that these are the ones to go for. The Q7 with the 20-inchers we drove a few months back had a noticeably fidgety ride. The handling is good for a car this big and there’s adequate grunt from the engine.
Still, the few downsides remain. The engine and transmission have a bit of lag and need a moment before they spool up. This is especially irritating when you are trying to have a bit of fun behind the wheel as you find yourself mid-corner in a higher gear. By the time the transmission downshifts, the corner’s long gone. Also, the panoramic sunroof is cool, but it’s not for our hot climes. Leave the car parked in the sun and you’ll be returning to a sauna.
Still, these minor flaws do nothing to diminish the overall appeal of the Q7. It’s a well built, comfortable and practical full-size SUV and this facelift only serves to highlight these features. Prices haven’t been announced yet, but insiders tell us the new Q7 will come at a marginal price hike, making it all the more attractive.