Audi’s stock in trade, the Q7 3.0 TDI is a finely balanced machine. It may tip the scales at an ungodly 2.3 tonnes, but with 56kgm of twist available and 241bhp of power, even this most basic diesel manages to deliver plenty of performance. Truth be told, you don’t need more than a 3.0-litre V6 to power a car like the Q7. But what’s luxury if not the exceptional, taken to excess. What indeed?
Say a big hello to the emperor of excess, the Q7 6.0 V12 TDI, a formidable beast of a car that is so far over the top, it’s almost floating up there in the ether. To believe – to really, truly believe – they say you have to see things with your own eyes. So before doing anything else I take a good look under the bonnet. And even though I expect a large engine to be sitting there, seeing the thing in the flesh actually shocks me. You have to remember, this the Q7, an SUV that has probably the largest nose and bonnet around. Yet the 5934cc motor is so large you can barely squeeze your hand into the gap between the firewall and the engine. Yet Audi claims that this is actually a compact V12. Compact? Compared to what, Sri Lanka? Still, there is plenty of modern envelope-stretching high-tech here. The crankcase is made up of a secret material that allows it to be strong, light and more compact at the same time, the crankshaft is made from chromium molybdenum steel and the pistons are aluminum.
Time to step in and see what 493bhp and, more importantly, 102kgm of torque feel like. But first, a quick glance around the cabin to see what’s different, what’s special. For all practical purposes, this looks like a regular Q7. Sure there are some special bits like the alcantara and brushed aluminum trimmings, but some of the other zany extras offered with this car seem to be missing. You can order the car with a fully leather-wrapped cabin, complete with double stitching. You can cover the insides with more carbon fiber than an F1 car and, if you really want to go nuts, you can even order a rear loading bay that’s lined with wood like the deck of your favourite yacht.
I fire up the motor with the driver’s door open and pump the accelerator mildly, and there, among some diesel clatter and the sound of fans going ballistic, is something I just don’t expect – a bit of good old V12 whine. And then I’m suddenly aware of something else, this motor, once revved, smoothens out so beautifully; it’s unreal. The first few minutes behind the wheel are spent tracking the camera car. And this is difficult. By the time you hit 1750rpm this engine has attained its peak torque output of 102kgm, and that makes it feel like there is a giant spring yanking you forward. Remember, normal everyday cars have approximately 12-15kgm of torque. Camera work done, I finally get a chance to use more right foot. And as expected, the shove in the back is massive. The Q7 feels like it weighs no more than 300kg; you charge at the horizon in giant explosive puffs from the motor. And keep the throttle nailed for more than three seconds and Q7 goes from seriously quick to warp speed I no time at all. Audi’s claimed time for this car is an eyeball popping 0-100kph in 5.5 seconds and you only need a short-ish stretch to allow this mammoth to punch up to its limited top speed of 250kph. And the further past 200 you go, the more impressive the sustained thrust gets. However, despite the smooth-running V12, and the general levels of overall sophistication, power delivery feels crude and almost savage at times. And that’s all part of its car-with-an-oversized-engine charm.
What’s less than charming, however, is the suspension. Yes, Audi has stiffened it and it feels much sportier than the regular car, but drive the Q7 harder, putting all that twist into the equation, and suddenly it feels somewhat inadequate. The chassis feels like it’s made of tinfoil, the springs feel like they are made from marshmallows. Push harder still and you get bouts of radio silence from the steering wheel. Of course, the problem is that the motor is tossing this 2.6-tonne car around like a ragdoll and the Q7 has to fight hard just to keep its head above water. One thing’s for sure, handling is nowhere near as good as that of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, quite easily the world’s premier sporting SUV.
Audi says the Q7 V12 TDI is headed to India and that it will cost approximately Rs 1 crore. For your money, you will get the world’s first production V12 diesel, 493bhp, surprisingly good fuel economy and massive, massive bragging rights; probably exactly what some Indian customers are looking for.
Watch video review here