Audi SQ7: Audi with pulling power
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SQ7 so eagerly awaited that 50 were ordered sight unseen
The Audi SQ7 V8 is one of the most sophisticated vehicles on the market, with twin turbos and a compressor that delivers speed so fast it can compete with an aircraft in the acceleration stakes.
The seven-seater SUV is crammed with technological advances that produce swift and comfortable high performance motoring, with ground clearance and four-wheel-drive systems to handle the rugged outdoors.
It also has four 22-inch tyres through which all this technology is transmitted to the road, and when one of those tyres runs over a piece of wood with nails in it, there is a puncture.
This happened with a weekend test run in Audi's latest model, providing an opportunity to test Audi NZ's 24-hour Audi Assist programme.
The system works, even at 4.10am on a Monday, when the phone call is made from the industrial southern outskirts of Whangarei.
Within an hour the car had been trucked to the local Audi dealership, and a replacement tyre was being sorted.
Unfortunately there were no 22-inch low-profile tyres suitable for the model available north of Auckland, and one had to be dispatched from Auckland. It was a reminder that no matter how impressive a vehicle, it is still vulnerable to detritus on the roads.
The SQ7 is capable of travelling from a standing start to 100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds, in sports mode. That is incredibly swift for any vehicle, let alone a large seven-seat SUV.
It is powered by a 4-litre V8 twin turbo diesel engine, coupled with an electric-powered compressor, which can go from zero to 70,000rpm in less than 250 milliseconds - in other words, almost immediately. The engine progressively spools up the cylinders, delivering the power quickly and smoothly.
The result is a massive 900 Nm of torque on tap quickly, but the whole vehicle is built to handle the immense power. It has a newly developed eight-speed tiptronic gearbox, and quattro permanent all-wheel-drive system.
The 3.5 tonne towing capacity may be one of the reason's the V8 version of Audi's large luxury SUV has been so eagerly awaited by New Zealanders.
Around 50 SQ7s were ordered by customers sight unseen - quite a commitment when you consider the SQ7 V8 is around $175,900 in standard mode, although the test model was loaded with around $30,000 worth of extras, including four-wheel-steering and a self-levelling suspension system that virtually eliminates body roll, even in sharp corners.
In standard form, the SQ7 is fitted with 15 driver aid systems, including adaptive cruise control, heads-up windscreen display, lane assist, and Audi's traffic jam assistance program that can take over steering at speeds of up to 65km/h, which the German company describes as a "pre-stage" of piloted driving. There is also a Bose sound system, four-zone climate control air conditioning and electric seats throughout the car.
The SQ7 is quiet on the road, belying the brute power under the bonnet. You are aware of the swiftness of the takeoff and the grunty nature of the engine, but the V8 roar is only really audible outside the car. This all makes for a relaxing drive, even though this is an SUV more than 5m long.
The electric front seats can be adjusted to suit driver and passenger, there are three seats in the second row, and two smaller ones in the rear. Seat backs are easily folded at either the press of a button or pull of a lever, in the case of the second row.
Putting the second and third row seat backs down creates a cavernous load space, capable of carrying 1820 litres of luggage.
In front of the driver is the Audi virtual cockpit, the electronic speedo/rev counter set-up that clearly displays everything you need. It can be adjusted to suit each driver's needs.
The leather seats are large and comfortable, with the SQ7 providing a comfortable armchair ride for those in the first two rows.
The sixth and seventh seats are also electrically operated, so easy to raise or lower with the simple press of a button.
Naturally the SQ7 has a power-operated tailgate.
Because there is so much electricity re-generated, all of this is delivered economically by the diesel engine - it averages 7.5 litres per 100km.
AUDI SQ7 V8
Pro: More than enough power, torque, space and comfort
Con: Low-profile tyres