Audi Q7 SUV (2019 - ) review
This is a revised version of Audi’s big seven-seater luxury SUV, which competes against cars like the Land Rover Discovery, BMW X5 and Volvo XC90.
The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 4.5
The Q7 has always been an impressive seven-seat premium SUV and a mid-life refresh has done nothing to change that. New engines make it more economical on fuel, and the interior additions mean it has some state-of-the-art technology to go with its impressive comfort and sophisticated driving manners. It’s also one of the most spacious cars of its type, which means it will have plenty of appeal to families.
- Great interior quality
- Composed and comfortable to drive
- Loads of space
- Reliability concerns
- Third row tight for adults
- Touchscreens are fingerprint magnets
Interested in buying an Audi Q7?
How good does it look?
This Q7 is a revised version of the car launched in 2015. Audi knows it was onto a good thing with that car, so it’s kept the changes relatively minimal. Most of the visual tweaks are at the front, with a new, larger grille and some redesigned and upgraded headlights. The rear lights are new, too, and there’s a strip of aluminium across the rear of the car to keep things more visually interesting.
There are four trim levels to choose from, starting with the Sport model, which features 19-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and bumpers in a contrasting grey paint finish. The S line model’s bumpers have the same paint as the rest of the car, as well as 20-inch wheels, a roof spoiler, side skirts and side vents. The Black Edition has black 21-inch wheels and various other black bits including roof rails, grille frame, door inlays and window trims, while the top-of-the-range Vorsprung has 22-inch wheels and even brighter headlights.
What's the interior like?
The changes to the cabin are slightly more comprehensive, with a very digital approach that sees a digital instrument panel for all models and two touchscreens. The upper one shows general infotainment systems like sat-nav and stereo functions, while the lower one replaces traditional air-conditioning controls and information about what drive mode you’re in. The set-up looks great and is pretty easy to navigate around, but the screens are magnets for fingerprints and not as easy to use as buttons or dials when you’re driving.
The driving position has plenty of adjustment and the seats are nice and comfortable, and visibility is pretty good too. Build quality, as we’ve come to expect from Audi, is excellent with everything feeling really solid, well-made and well put-together.
How practical is it?
When you buy a car as big as a Q7, you expect space, and it delivers in spades. All cars (except the plug-in hybrid versions) come as standard with seven seats, and although you can specify five seats if you prefer, very few customers do. There’s loads of space in the second row for three tall adults, and if you slide the seats forward a bit you can also fit two adults in the third row, too, although taller grown-ups will find headroom pretty tight. These rear-most seats rise individually out of the boot floor and are electrically controlled from either the inside of the boot or each rear side door, which makes popping them up and down very easy. Fold all the seats down and you have a huge amount of space – 2,050 litres - and even with all of them occupied, you still get a decent-sized boot. All-in-all, it makes for a very flexible vehicle.
Families will be very pleased that all five rear seats have an Isofix child seat mounting point. If we had to nit-pick, there could be more cubby holes around for odds and ends, as the space under the front centre armrest isn’t huge. But there are still good-sized door pockets and cupholders to keep things in.
What's it like to drive?
The Q7 comes as standard with air suspension, which lets you switch between different driving modes to focus on comfort or a more dynamic set-up. Comfort mode is aptly named, as it massages the road's imperfections out very well, although can give a slightly floaty ride and vague steering. Dynamic is stiffer and lets more road surface information into the cabin, but it also sharpens up the steering. Both modes are entirely acceptable though, and we found that leaving it in Auto mode and letting car choose when to switch settings was the best option.
What’s particularly impressive is that the comfort doesn’t come at the expense of surefootedness, with the suspension keeping the Q7 composed through the corners, which is no mean feat in a car with this much weight behind it. Black Edition and Vorsprung cars come with a sportier version of this air suspension, which we’ve yet to try. Higher spec versions also come with four-wheel steering, which tightens the turning circle at lower speeds and makes it far more manoeuvrable than a car of this size has any right to be.
How powerful is it?
Mainstream buyers will choose between three 3.0-litre V6s – two diesels and a petrol – all of which are fitted with a mild hybrid system. This adds a battery to provide a bit of extra grunt, which can be recharged by lifting off the accelerator or braking, helping to improve fuel economy.
The diesel range starts with the 45 TDI, which has 231 horsepower, and moves up to the 50 TDI, which has 286 horsepower. This is the diesel we’ve tried so far, and it looks like being the pick of the bunch, with plenty of effortless grunt low down in the rev range, and just the right characteristics to haul a large, fully loaded luxury bus around. It is a little bit noisy at lower speeds, though.
The 55 TFSI is the petrol version, and while it has 340 horsepower it doesn’t feel appreciably quicker than the diesel. It also won’t get such good fuel economy, either, but if you’re anti-diesel for whatever reason then the petrol still does a very good job. It’s smooth and still strong at the lower end of the rev range, and plenty of power for when you need a quick overtake or a blast onto a motorway on-ramp.
However, diesel-phobes will probably be served even better by one of the plug-in hybrids on offer, which combines the petrol engine with an electric motor to deliver either 380- or 455 horsepower. We’ve tried the more powerful of the pair, and not only is it capable of some properly serious pace when you plant your foot, but it’s also capable of an electric-only range of around 25 miles when you don’t.
How much will it cost me?
The Q7 is priced competitively against its rivals. It’s certainly not the cheapest premium SUV around, but it’s broadly similar in cost to the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90. That said, pricing isn’t normally a deal-breaker with cars like these: you don’t pick the cheapest one, you pick the one you want. Fuel economy is very competitive on all the engines, and CO2 outputs are competitive, too. The official efficiency figures look especially impressive on the plug-in hybrid versions, and although you’ll do extremely well to match these in the real world, they do result in some very compelling tax breaks, most notably for company car drivers. Audi residual values are traditionally strong, which helps considerably with whole-life costs.
How reliable is it?
The solidity of the Q7 gives you the impression it’ll last forever, but according to several industry studies, that’s an impression that might prove misleading. The previous generation of Q7 has a rock-bottom score on Warranty Direct’s Reliability Index, and as a brand, Audi sits worryingly close to the bottom of the manufacturer rankings. The same is true of JD Power’s 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study, which puts Audi third from bottom, although it is at least above BMW. Should anything go wrong with your Q7, Audi offers a three-year, 60,000-mile warranty on the Q7, which is par for the course for this type of vehicle.
How safe is it?
The pre-facelift Q7 scored a maximum five-star rating in crash tests by safety organisation Euro NCAP back in 2015, and comes as standard with plenty of features to protect you and your family. As well as the six airbags and stability control that you expect as a minimum, you also get all sorts of other traction aids, lane departure warning and an autonomous low-speed braking system. More advanced systems are only optional on models below the Vorsprung. These include Pre Sense Basic - a system that prepares the car in case of an accident by tensioning seatbelts and closing windows – and cross-traffic assist to let you know if there are oncoming vehicles when emerging from a parking space. Great for families is the standard inclusion of six Isofix child seat mounting points (five in the back, and one on the front passenger seat).
How much equipment do I get?
All versions of the Q7 come with a long list of features, as you’d expect for a premium product at a premium price. The entry-level Sport model has leather-covered, electrically adjustable and heated front seats, matrix LED front headlights that let you use high beam without dazzling oncoming traffic, all the latest touchscreens and the digital instrument panel and a ten-speaker sound system. On top of that you get an electrically operated boot lid, front and rear parking sensors, a rear-view camera and two-zone climate control air-conditioning.
Upgrade to the S line, and you’ll get snugger front sports seats covered in nicer leather, a black cloth headlining and some brushed aluminium inlays inside, as well as a different steering wheel design. The Black Edition, meanwhile, upgrades the air-con to four-zone climate control, and gets polished oak interior inlays and another steering wheel design.
The top-spec Vorsprung gets super-powerful laser headlights, electric door closure mechanisms and heated rear seats on the second row. In addition, the front seats get a ventilation function for hot days, and a massage system, and there are sunblinds for the rear windows. You also get a head-up display and a Bose sound system.
You’ll buy a Q7 if you have a big family and want to transport them in comfort and style. The Q7 is beautifully made inside, with a huge number of features, and provides huge amounts of space and a very civilised driving experience. We thoroughly recommend it.