There are two mainstream engines available, both 3.0-litre V6 diesels mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with either 215 or 268bhp. The less powerful of the pair has to work hard to get the car moving, with the car noticeably slow to pull away from rest, and it makes a lot of noise doing so. And, while things are much better once the car's on the move, with some momentum built up, we think the stronger engine is worth the extra, as it gives a brisk, yet smooth, surge of acceleration when you prod the right pedal.
However, your on-the-go performance will depend on which mode you’ve selected. In Comfort, the gearbox shifts into too high a gear too early, and that can leave you with an irritatingly long gap between you hitting the accelerator and the car picking up speed. Select Dynamic, though, and things feel much more lively and responsive. Both the gearbox and engine are always super-smooth, too, which contributes to a generally very impressive level of rolling refinement; and, when you’re taking on a long journey with a car loaded up with family, that’s really important. Our one criticism is that the car is a little slow to respond to the accelerator and re-start the engine when the stop-start system is operating - and that is a pain around town.
On the other hand, slow responses are not something you could accuse the SQ7 of; on the contrary, it provides astonishing levels of performance, hitting 62mph in less than five seconds (making it several degrees hotter than any of its rivals from Porsche, Range Rover or BMW) and having incredibly sharp responses to the throttle. The e-tron, too, performs very well, but there are a couple of caveats: first, it's a little sluggish to respond when you first pull away, so it doesn't feel as quick as the figures (0-62mph in 6.2 seconds) suggest; and, secondly, if you take advantage of the full performance, you'll barely see any electric-only running, and you won't see anything like the fuel economy it returns in official tests.