Does a Q7 really need more power? Answers, and the horizon, come flying at you the moment you give this newly introduced (in India) 4.2-litre V8 the beans. There’s a pause as the drivetrain prepares itself and all hell breaks loose. Where the 3.0 TDI gently presses you into the seat, the 4.2 pins you down and holds you there till it is done clawing up the tarmac. First and second gear serve to squish your internals, third, fourth and fifth to haul ass in one long relentless tidal wave of torque, after which you are on the wrong (or is that right?) side of 200kph.It’ll max out at 240kph, and it’ll get there without breaking sweat.That a 2.5-tonne SUV can behave like this is simply absurd and completely unexpected.
Full-bore launches are brutal and there ought to be a warning sticker somewhere telling you to tie everything down before attempting an acceleration run. Zero to 100kph comes up in 6.5 seconds, it’ll growl past 150kph in 13.9sec and 200kph in under half a minute. It’s the quickest diesel SUV we’ve ever tested at Autocar India – in fact, it’s as quick is Audi’s own 3.0-litre diesel A4. To experience this kind of performance elsewhere, you’ll have to drive two-seat sportscars, and they’re all petrol-powered.
Meet the 4.2 TDI, the reason for the hulking Q7’s rabbit-like behaviour. It’s a 90deg V8 displacing all of 4134cc and makes peak torque of 77.5kgm all the way from 1750rpm to 3000rpm. It’s the reason for the Q7’s extra-long legs and that it’s so refined (probably one of the most refined diesels in India) only makes it all that more desirable. We would even go as far as to say it’s a nice-sounding diesel – stretch the imagination a bit and it does sound like a distant relative of an American V8 at times. Like the 3.0 TDI, this engine powers all four wheels through a rather quick-witted six-speed automatic till the next reason to slow down. And, despite its over-five-metre length, it has the ability to feel manageable from behind the wheel.
It’s manageable because that air suspension goes a long way in keeping that weight in check. Stick it in dynamic mode and you’ll be surprised to find that the Audi Q7 4.2 TDI can go around corners with aplomb and, provided the road is wide enough, there’s a curious enjoyment to be had from hustling this car. Yes, the steering isn’t the best and you do feel all that weight, but the Quattro system and the tremendous grip give it a certain ability to shrink around you. What we would have liked though is a better ride and that’s because even in comfort mode, the ride is quite lumpy. It’s not uncomfortably so, but its rivals manage our roads better.
The rest is the same. In fact, if it weren’t for the 4.2 TDI badging on the tailgate, you wouldn’t be able to tell it apart from its smaller-hearted sibling. Build quality is excellent, the interiors are of a high standard, the seats are comfortable and there’s a lot of equipment – there’s that massive sunroof, dual-zone climate control, MMI, DVD player, paddleshifts, leather seats, a refrigerator, and a hard drive to store your CDs.
All this costs Rs 81 lakh on Mumbai roads, which is approximately Rs 11 lakh more than the similarly equipped Q7 3.0 TDI. This means all the extra money you are paying is for that beautiful lump of an engine. Is it worth it? Of course it is – it’s smoother, a lot more effortless and, as a result, a lot nicer to drive. And, the look on performance saloon drivers’ faces as you run away from them makes this Q7 4.2 TDI priceless.