Don’t write it off with its badge. This 2.0l 4-cylinder petrol engine works wonders for Audi’s most luxurious SUV.
The celebrities have spoken and they’d rather be seen in a Q7 than in the Mercedes-Benz GLS. Having been endorsed by the glitterati, Audi’s biggest SUV is no stranger to the Indian market but its latest iteration kept its distance from a petrol engine, until now. Although the SUV has been around for more than a year in the Indian market, Audi chose to go with the diesel motor up until now, thanks to the government playing havoc with big block petrol motors and related taxation. But with engine downsizing becoming a global phenomenon and manufacturers getting better at extracting power without sacrificing drivability, the newest variant of the Q7 now gets a 2.0lt, 4 cylinder engine that churns out 252bhp of power and 370Nm of torque.
For a heavy car like this, it may not seem like a lot but the biggest surprise of this little motor is its punchy nature and pulling power. Audi claims a 0-100kmph time of 6.9 seconds which is more in line with the likes of an Octavia RS or a BMW 330i.
Not much has changed on the inside besides what’s under the bonnet. The cabin is still a great place to be in with a wide centre console that divides the driver and passenger by technology. Lots of it. Audi’s Virtual Cockpit makes an appearance and in fact is the first thing you notice when you step in the cabin and light her up.
It’s high resolution and easy interface lets you swing between full screen views of either sat/nav, media, vehicle settings or rev and speedo dials directly in the driver’s line of sight. I prefer this to a HUD personally because the information is right there without being distracting. The lateral AC vents running across the dash look retro cool but a bit plain. The ambient lighting does liven up things in the dark with optional colours and intensity.
It gets the latest Audi MMI system which means eight shortcut keys that can be assigned a multitude of functions from favourite route maps to playlists and anything in between. It even supports Apple CarPlay and while Audi has done a fine job of integration, Siri still has a long way to go until speech to text becomes accurate enough to not warrant a second look at the phone screen.
The tech pack on the test car equips it with a Bose sound system and while it has controls for surround sound and primary listening position focus, it lacks the refinement and bass definition of the higher end B&O systems that other Audi’s come with. Ergonomically though, it is spot on with touch-sensitive AC controls, a physical volume knob that is so satisfying and steering wheel controls and paddles that become second nature the moment you get your hands on the wheel. The seats too are brilliant with just the right amount of firmness.
You get the option of either 7 seats or a spare tyre so you decide between being adventurous or being domesticated but either way, there is no denying that this as full-sized SUV as they come! Airiness and spaciousness define the cabin and the good news is that once you get in motion, it also tends to shrink around the driver. The small block motor has its lazy symptoms under 1900RPM but past that it is smooth and linear all the way to the redline, even making a nice rumble from the exhaust while getting there.
The steering like all Audis is feather light and devoid of feel but on this car, it’s strangely likeable because of those qualities. It isolates you from all the happenings on the Mumbai roads…or what’s left of them. On the highway, its stability is remarkable and while Dynamic or Comfort mode makes little difference in body roll, it annihilates most potholes and gently sways over undulations without upsetting the cappuccino in the cupholders much.
The suspension can raise itself when you select the Off-road mode and is useful when there is a real need for 4x4 use but Audi knows its Quattro system is used more by soccer moms than cross-Saharan expeditions. To know that you have the tools when you do get stuck though is what you pay for.
Audi Q7 40 TFSI Initial Verdict
Diesel or petrol is a personal choice and one that is also based on whether you are the driver or the driven. If you’re driven, you wouldn’t care much about what’s under the hood and possibly choose the diesel for its running costs but if you are the driver, this petrol engined full-size SUV is hugely enjoyable. With all the quality that Audi is known for, with all the space that a 7-seater is known for and all the useable technology that a premium German car should have in 2017, this is a value for money package at its asking price of ₹67.8lacs (ex-showroom, Delhi).