There’s nothing diminuitive about Audi’s luxury SUV, says Charlie Flindt, as it makes its presence felt in the farmyard – but will he be able to get in?
Whether standing in the farmyard or in the driver’s seat, the Audi Q7 50 TDI is, put simply, enormous. Have we reached peak SUV, wonders Charlie Flindt.
For a SUV with the last word in luxury and now potentially the perfect shoot wagon, read Charlie Flindt’s review of the Bentley Bentayga Mulliner “Field Sports”.
AUDI Q7 50 TDI
There’s no getting away from it: the Audi Q7 is very big. When it arrived in my farmyard and throbbed its way into its parking spot, it made my old farm truck look small. It didn’t do a bad job of hiding the John Deere parked behind it, too. Having said that, it’s also very beautiful, with neat and tidy VAG-family lines and the optional chrome-free kit looking smart. If you took away the agricultural reference point, it could almost be a normal-sized SUV.
Once you open the door and get in, however, the humongousness of the Q7 is back; it’s one heck of a stride to get past the running boards (does anyone ever use these?) and plant your left leg into the footwell. And the roominess continues once you’re in and settled. There’s vast headroom and elbow room – a bit too much of the latter, if you enjoy resting your arms in the doors.
And it’s not just me struggling to come to terms with the Audi’s bulk: every so often, the engine baulks when you want to get on. Now, this baffled me a bit (and scared me, too, at the occasional junction; I know Audis never let others out of junctions but surely not their own drivers? Now there’s an interesting existential automotive philosophical conundrum). A glance at the badges suggests that there’s a mighty 5-litre under that stylish bonnet, promising the fastest of getaways. But, no, the ‘50’ is part of Audi’s incomprehensible categorising of engine power brackets: ‘50’ means the engine produces between 282 and 308bhp. The 3-litre V6 in my test car produced 286PS. That would be plenty in a normal car and should have been enough for the Q7 – and at high speeds it is. I couldn’t decide if the engine or the gearbox were being reluctant from a standstill. Playing with the ‘driver setting’ buttons (annoyingly over on the nearside of the console) seemed to do little.
Back inside, a glance at the dashboard through the forest of stalks and the moonscape of buttons that adorn the clipped steering wheel reveals a fancy display with the option of a moving ‘you are here’ aerial photo on a screen – a bit of a hazard for a farmer who loves checking his neighbours’ crops while driving. “What were they growing here when this was taken?” I asked, while heading rapidly towards the verge. Thank the Lord for the multiple warning buzzers and beepers.
There are positives to the bulk, of course. There’s room for a vast boot and a third row of seats – although the gaps and crevasses in the floor wouldn’t suit muddy dogs. And loading up to full capacity wouldn’t have improved the 28mpg I managed. But it means the Q7 has a great presence and feel of quality.
But I looked at the size, and the buttons, and the stalks, and the MPG, and the £1,240 tax disc, and thought: “Have we reached peak SUV? Have we reached biggest and most complicated?” Of course not. Something bigger and bolder will be along soon. Just you wait.
AUDI Q7 50 TDI QUATTRO ‘VORSPRUNG’
♦ Engine: 2,967cc V6 turbodiesel
♦ Power: 286PS
♦ Max speed: 142mph
♦ Performance, 0 to 62: 7.3 seconds
♦ Combined fuel economy: 32.1mpg
♦ Insurance group: 46E
♦ Price: £78,170