New Audi Q7 3.0 TDI with superb on-road dynamics

audi q7 tdi v120

audi q7 tdi v120

It was late in the evening and the temptation of a short drive was too much to handle. The intent of branding the new Q7 as a luxury SUV was clear as brushed aluminium inlays glowed in the soft streetlight that filtered in through the large low windows.

The chocolate brown vehicle that we were sitting in came with an S line equipment package that translated into better aesthetics, on the inside as well as the outside. I didn’t mind.

The 3.0 litre turbocharged V6 TDI engine was quiet, though not as quiet as the one that comes with Mercedes-Benz’s M-Class. But this baby could pull... 240 hp coupled with 550 Nm of torque gave us near neck snapping acceleration. But the bull charge was soothingly smooth. We tried unsettling its almost 2,500-kg frame by throwing it into tight corners but the quattro (Audi’s 4-wheel drive system) sparred with us tenaciously. So, this bull could dance as well, I smirked.

The short drive in Lutyen’s Delhi was over in a jiffy. But I had bigger plans for the vehicle that Audi calls the best selling performance luxury SUV in India.

Early next morning, while snuggling into the beautiful front seat of the Q7 I noticed the speakers. A Q7 buyer has two options — a 10-channel Bose sound system and a 14-channel Bang & Olufsen system. I didn’t have an option because my Q7 came with the higher-spec 1000-watts B&O! Like I said earlier, I didn’t mind at all. It looked great and sounded better. John Lee Hooker and highway fog go well together I thought, and pushed in the CD.

As Hooker strummed and plucked the sun started cutting through the fog on NH8. Life felt good at 120 kph. Broad roads have this habit of making you feel that you are going slow. Or was it the car? Or both? Or was it Hooker?
Rhythms apart, the Q7 handles well despite its size. It’s not as taut as a BMW but feels more sublime and supple. And an X5 can never pamper you the way the Q7 can. But at the same time, I felt that in choc-a-bloc traffic it’s easier to sneak in through with the M-Class. But then again, I wouldn’t choose the Merc to power me through a super highway.

But the NH8 is not a super highway. Somehow it has lost its charm. The tarmac doesn’t feel fresh anymore and it’s way too crowded at anytime during the day. But I powered on, sometimes off roading through the edge of the road. The Q7, true to its genes, showed fantastic passing prowess. The top whack levels off at somewhere near the 210-kph mark.

And then I did something great. I saw an opening for a back road and quietly slid into it. Dirty dhabas were immediately replaced with high grass on both sides and the little road snaked through quaint villages. People stared as I tried to steer through nervous hens and arrogant goats. At one point, I even had to get down from the car to look for a goat that ran under the Q7’s huge bonnet. The point that I am trying to make here is that the SUVs from BMW have fantastic driver seats at the right height. But I had never thought that it would take a young goat for me to find that out!

On the road, the Q7 is great. Good power, class-leading luxury. But off the beaten path, I still have my reservations. It rolls way too much on bad roads and the ground clearance leaves a few stones unturned, quite literally.

But when compared to its immediate peers such as the BMW X5 and the Mercedes M-Class, it turns quite a few heads, offers far more space since it comes with a six-seater option, has more frills than necessary and drives, well, almost like a performance sedan. But I still wonder, why we have to call it an SUV.