Q7 inspires for comfort and safety
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GEN 2 DROPS KILOS AND ADDS HOST OF DRIVER AIDS
Greetings from Switzerland, where Driven is attending the international media launch for the second-generation Audi Q7. We bring important news: the flagship Audi Q-model has been on a diet and been to finishing school.
The first-generation version, launched way back in 2005, certainly made an impression. It was the marque’s first SUV and sold more than half a million worldwide. So the original Q7 was a big deal for Audi, but it was also just plain big. The polarising styling only served to emphasis the extreme dimensions.
But it looks a lot more compact, don’t you think? Cleaner lines conspire to visually downsize the new Q7. The more traditional look and some clever packaging also liberate more interior space than the previous model.
It has adaptive cruise control that will keep you the correct distance from the car in front, but also assist you with steering when you’re stuck in a traffic jam (at up to 65km/h). There’s lane assistance and a camera-based system that provides autonomous braking at urban speeds; it can recognise other vehicles and also pedestrians. The same hardware provides a turn-assist function: try to cross an intersection in front of oncoming traffic and the autonomous braking kicks in again.
All impressive stuff and demonstrated at length over a closed course, close to our launch base in Verbier.
Rest assured, you will still be able to exercise your right to option. The Q7 can also be fitted with night vision, a thumping audio system that can simulate 3D sound with any music file, a 360-degree camera system and a full suite of self-parking features. Thus equipped, the Q7 can park itself forwards or backwards into a side-by-side space, parallel park and also assist you to exit. Notably, you don’t have to manually search for spaces — at urban speeds the system is always scanning and stores the best spots so it’s ready for your parking command.
Something incredibly difficult has suddenly become very easy in a Q7. But sadly, the trailer assist system is not for us: the Q7-specific towbar doesn’t meet New Zealand and Australian legislation around safety chain brackets. Our loss.
Towards the end of the year we’ll also see a lower-powered 160kW version of the V6 TDI.
In normal driving the quattro system runs at a 40/60-per cent bias to the rear. In low-traction conditions up to 70 per cent of power can go to the front and up to 85 per cent to the rear — higher values than the outgoing model.
The MMI system is also now fully compatible with Android Auto and Apple Carplay.
The cabin configuration is a good deal more practical than the previous model. The second row is now split 40/20/40 and the outside positions can be tumble-folded away to clear the way for access to the third row.
There’s something else that looks set to bring Q7 together with the Volvo XC90 for an SUV battle royal: like the Swedish car, the Q7 will be available as a plug-in hybrid. Due in early 2016, the diesel-electric Q7 e-tron boasts a total system output of 275kW/700Nm, returns 1.7 litres per 100km and can drive emissions-free for up to 56km on a full charge.