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Monday, February 13, 2006

Audi Q7: Road test

Audi Q7
Here's a road test with the Audi Q7, scoring 4.5 out of 5 stars.
The Q7s driven so far feel absolutely solid, with a very high standard of fit and finish - better than that of early Porsche Cayennes. Both the Cayenne and Touareg have suffered little in the way of problems so far, bar a necessary recall for parking brake issues and minor software faults in their complex electronics; mainstream large Audis also have a good reliability record. Nothing to worry about here, though like the Cayenne, the powerful Q7 could get through tyres very quickly.

Right up there with the X5 and Cayenne, we reckon, with the added bonus of novelty value, at least until a significant number hit the roads. The Q7, little changed from the original Pikes Peak concept car, has a very different appeal to the Range Rover, Range Rover Sport or Discovery, but it has immense presence and plenty of elegantly-curved aggression. Less plain-Jane than the Touareg, this Audi is generously embellished, with its flared wheel arches, crease-lines down its bonnet, slanted headlights and gaping grille, but it's still more minimalist than the overdone X5. Less Bauhaus than house-sized, though. However, it's been designed specifically to appeal to the Americans, Audi hoping that it will spearhead a breakthrough for the brand in the US, and by Yank-tank standards, the Q7 actually looks relatively modest and restrained.

Full marks to Audi, too, for a high level of standard equipment. Though lower-spec models (including some with steel-spring suspension) are offered in some countries, all UK-market Q7s will come with the air suspension, dual-zone climate control, four electric windows, roof rails, 18-inch alloys, rain-sensing wipers and auto headlights, fog lamps, a CD player, rear parking sensors and auto-folding door mirrors. SE models add different alloy wheels (still 18-inch, though, which look a bit too small for the huge flared wheel arches), heated/electrically-adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, LED interior lights and body-coloured bumpers. S-Line models have the sportier-looking trim, with leather/alcantara upholstery, 20-inch wheels, aluminium detailing, black cloth headlining, headlight washers, different bumpers and rear diffuser, and a multi-function steering wheel. Options across the range include the side assist system, a full-length panoramic glass roof with two opening sections (which makes the cabin feel much airier), the advanced parking system with cameras and LCD screens, adaptive cruise control, the powered tailgate and adaptive xenon headlights. The Q7 could easily tot up to well over £50,000, but by the standards of this class of SUV, it's good value for money.

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Source: Channel 4


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