Audi SQ7 in a fieldAudi SQ7 in a field

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First drive: Audi SQ7 is tough to beat and an SUV that you can’t help falling in love with

  • Jack Evans gets behind the wheel of the seven seat SUV that leaves supercars in its wake – the Audi SQ7

Time 3 months ago

What is it?

There’s not an awfully large market for seven-seater cars with enough performance to scare a Porsche 911 away from the lights – but it must be enough for Audi to continue offering its big SQ7. 

It has now ditched its famous V8 turbodiesel in favour of a petrol engine, mainly because it wants to sell the SQ7 in America and big, heavy diesel SUVs just don’t sell in the States. So here we are.

Can this new petrol-powered SQ7 bring a new edge to this extremely large performance SUV? We’ve been finding out. 


What’s new?

We’ll delve further into that all-important engine shortly, but elsewhere the SQ7 has been given some major new features. It’s got all-wheel-steering for the first time, helping to make it feel more agile at lower speeds while improving stability at higher ones. 

There’s also a new eight-speed transmission and permanent all-wheel-drive, while S-specific suspension should help to deliver a compromise between sportiness and comfort. 

What’s under the bonnet?

So, to the engine. The turbocharged diesel V8 has been ditched in favour of a petrol V8, kicking out 500bhp and 770Nm of torque – the former figure representing a considerable increase over the previous car’s 429bhp. 

It allows the SQ7 to go from 0-60mph in a scarcely believable 3.9 seconds – frankly astounding for a car of this size.


Plant your foot and the SQ7 squats for a moment then rockets towards the horizon while bellowing with its fearsomely angry exhaust note. 

What’s it like to drive?

Though the SQ7 can certainly deliver when it comes to straight-line speed, it can also do well in the bends thanks to its adaptive air suspension.

Find a fun section of road and you’ll find that it holds its own in the bends, with grippy tyres helping it to find traction through the corners in a far more accomplished fashion than you might expect for a car of this size. 

In normal driving, it’s very comfortable too. Select comfort mode and you’d be hard-pressed to tell it apart from a regular Q7.

We found one of the best ways to use it was with the suspension in comfort with the engine and exhaust note at its most dynamic.

By doing so, you can get that effortless comfortable suspension without forsaking that exciting sound. 

Audi SQ7 on the road

How does it look?

Given that the SQ7 is Audi’s largest SUV, it’ll come as little surprise that it comes with a whole lot of presence.

Though many have criticised BMW’s approach to grilles, Audi’s attempts are always far less divisive and that’s certainly the case with the SQ7’s. It just ‘fits’ and doesn’t look out of place or over-the-top. 

The S model benefits from some tell-tale upgrades over the regular model too.

There are large air intakes with silver ‘blades’ integrated into the front bumper while around the back the quad exhaust pipes and large diffuser hint at the car’s performance. 

What’s it like inside?

The SQ7’s cabin is just another example of how good Audi’s interiors are at the moment.

Of course, given that the SQ7 is such a large car it’ll come as little surprise that there’s loads of space, with both front and rear passengers benefiting from loads of leg and headroom. 

The material quality is excellent, too, while the large central screen gives the car a particularly futuristic air.

Though there are few physical buttons to speak of, Audi’s system is so responsive that you don’t miss them – something we can’t say about many other cars. 


What’s the spec like?

Prices start at £79,845 for the regular SQ7, which gets you all of that V8 performance, air suspension, all-wheel-drive and S-specific styling, as well as 21-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, heated sports seats, three screens and cruise control.

Move up to Black Edition – priced from £83,740 – and you’ll get black alloys and adaptive air suspension, a full black styling pack and four-zone climate control. 

Finally, for £98,545 you’ll get the tip-top Vorsprung pack which brings 22-inch alloy wheels and high-performance Matrix LED headlights, as well as a panoramic sunroof and a Bang & Olfusen sound system.

Again, these are just highlights of what is an extensive list of equipment. 

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Audi SQ7 interior

Verdict

As far as one-size-fits-all motoring goes, the Audi SQ7 makes a compelling case for itself.

It’s hard not to love the SQ7. Certainly, it’s got the excitement factor on its side thanks to that hugely powerful V8 engine and slightly comical performance. It almost feels unnatural to go so fast in a car this size. 

However, it’s the car’s breadth of abilities that really impresses. Of course, it’s fast – but the SQ7’s long-distance abilities and comfortable ride mean that it’s got a lot more going on than just performance so, as a one-size-fits-all car, it’s hard to beat.

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