Few things are as synonymous with Bollywood as the Audi Q7.
Having earned its street cred under the arc lights, this people carrier from Ingolstadt was really meant to carry only one VIP. And carry that person’s status on its strong, bulky shoulders. The first thing that you notice here however is those shoulders are much more leaner now and the overall bulk has been trimmed too. Almost by 300kgs! So is it more of a super-sized hatchback rather than a full-sized SUV now?
Pictures really don’t do justice to the new Q7’s weight-training program. The chiseled front end with the large single-frame grille, the beefed up wheel arches, the sharp shoulder line that gains muscle towards the tail end and those crisp, Matrix LED head and tail lamps finish off the look.
It’s still polarising and although we aren’t fans of the new suit, it does make for a more car-like driving experience since it is smaller than its predecessor in every dimension making it more responsive and agile. Relatively speaking, of course. But it’s the tech that we’re blown away by.
A multi-purpose touchpad makes life easy for chores on the move. Type a name to search for a phone number, address or use the numbers to go through radio presets. It’s always within reach and responsive. Audi dubs this the Virtual Cockpit and it really does make you feel like a pilot.
The 12.3in screen can toggle views so you get traditional clocks or a full Sat/Nav view in HD glory. The graphics are powered by NVIDIA and it shows with its smooth transitions and bright colours with pin-sharp resolution. Even the AC controls are wonderfully damped and touch-sensitive, making you feel like you’re in charge of something expensive. This interior feels like how the year 2020 would and we aren’t complaining!
Clean. Sterile. Disbuttoned
The biggest visual change comes to the fore when you sit in the Q7’s lap. It’s luxurious alright, but also a very contemporary interior with LCD screens everywhere, rotary control knobs, touchpad, touch-sensitive buttons and graphics that make every drive feel like an outing in Need for Speed. There are a few ergonomic glitches like the Parking buttons on the airplane throttle-like gear knob isn’t as intuitive as Merc’s side mounted stalk and the pop-up LCD screen in the dash cuts into the view out of the windscreen, at least with my seating position.
But for it’s few idiosyncrasies, it gets most of the other things very very right. This is Audi in its element. It’s astonishing how Audi has liberated more room inside with smaller dimensions. Sure the seats could use more thigh support but comfort is high even in the third row, for an adult. Caveat though. The spare space saver tyre sits vertically, right by the third row seat. Prepare to have a conversation with a tyre. The huge panoramic roof is brilliant though and lets it copious amounts of natural light for those long inter-state journeys.
A car in SUV's clothing?
Now with a lower seating position and a lower ingress, the Q7 does feel a lot more like a normal sedan from behind the wheel. Steering is over-assisted but accurate, gearshifts are quick if not entirely seamless. But the dampener here is the bouncy ride, even in Dynamic mode that causes too much body roll. Selectable drive modes don’t help flatten the bouncy ride of the Q7.
This could be especially troublesome for passengers in the middle and back rows as they’ll be thrown about more. But take it off-road and the height-adjustable suspension raises the SUV by a massive 60mm. This is a seriously capable off-roader if you ever dare to venture too far from the curb with your ₹1cr indulgence.
Even though the weight is drastically reduced over the earlier model, you still feel the bulk around corners. But the moment you’re in a puddle, all the Quattro’s strengths and various off-road assistance features show you who’s boss. Torque vectoring ensures minimum wheel slip and transfers power to the rest of the wheels, always keeping you out of a slushy tow-job. The 600Nm of torque comes in like a wave and doesn’t let anything in its way slow it down.
The new Q7 might come across as over-engineered but it does so without ever intimidating its occupants. The cabin reeks of quality and the strong engine never leaves you wanting. It’s the unsettled ride that made me taste my lunch twice. It’s clearly a better expressway mile muncher than a pothole plunger.