Audi Q7

And here it is, the new Audi Q7. It’s transformed from one of the heaviest cars in the segment to one of the lightest, at just 1,995 kg for the 3.0 TDI variant, compared to well over 2,000 kg for comparable rivals like the X5, Cayenne and Touareg.

The new Q7 is 5,050mm long, 1,970mm wide and 1,740mm tall with a 2,990mm wheelbase. That’s a longer wheelbase than the Touareg or the Cayenne but shorter than the first generation Q7. Although the new Q7 is 37mm shorter and 15mm narrower than the model it replaces, but Audi claims more interior space thanks to better packaging.

Various engine options are available – a 272 hp 600 Nm 3.0 TDI V6, a 333 hp 440 Nm 3.0 TFSI V6, and a plug-in diesel hybrid called the Q7 e-tron quattro that combines a 258 hp 3.0 TDI V6 with a 126 hp electric motor for a combined system output of 373 hp and 700 Nm. A full battery charge takes it up to 56 km. Two other engines will be launched later – a 218 hp 500 Nm 3.0 TDI V6 and a 252 hp 370 Nm 2.0 TFSI four-cylinder for the US and Asia market.

Audi Q7

All engine variants are mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox with coasting support and a new vaporization system which enables the engine to run at extremely slow speeds below 1,000 rpm. Audi’s quattro system will allow power distribution between the front and rear axle in a 40:60 ratio under normal conditions, but if the wheels of one axle lose grip, it can extremely quickly transfer as much as 70 percent of the power to the front and a maximum of 85 percent to the rear. There’s also a torque vectoring feature implemented by selective braking.

The significant weight savings of up to 325 kg allows the new Q7 to better the previous model’s fuel consumption by as much as 28% for petrol TFSI engines and up to 23% for diesel TDI engines. This is thanks to an all new chassis with a new multi-material body – for example, the doors are made out of aluminium.

You can have the Q7 either with a conventional steel suspension or an optional air suspension which also has the ability to raise and lower the body according to the driver’s needs.

Audi Q7

Compared to the exterior which has a pretty familiar side profile when you compare it to the outgoing car, the interior is completely revamped. There’s a central 7 inch MMI monitor that can be upgraded to a 8.3 inch monitor with the optional MMI navigation plus option. The optional MMI navigation plus upgrades the instrument cluster to a huge 12.3 inch 1,440×540 TFT display. Graphics are powered by Nvidia’s T30 processor. The Q7’s infotainment system supports both Apple CarPlay and Google’s Android Auto.

For audiophiles, there’s a Bose sound system with 3D sound, upgradable to a Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System with an incredible speaker count of 23 including subwoofers, driven by 1,920 watts of amplifier power.

Rear seat entertainment is served by one or optionally two 10.1 inch Audi tablets powered by Nvidia Tegra 4 processors using the Android operating system. There’s Google Play Store support too. It’s no regular tablet – they are engineered for automotive use, so they’re temperature-resistant and offer the necessary crash safety lacking in conventional end user tablets.

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The tablets hook up to the MMI navigation plus via WiFi, thus gaining access to the radio, media, navigation and car functions of the Audi Q7. You can remove it from the mount and use it like a normal tablet outside your car – it features a full HD camera and 32GB of internal storage. Other than Wifi connectivity, it also has Bluetooth and NFC support.

Like the previous model, the Q7 can be had as a 7-seater, although a 5-seater is also available. The third row of seats are rated Group 3 child seats, and they can be folded down into the cargo floor. Audi says the third row has 24 mm more headroom and 20 mm more shoulder room than before.

The second row has three individually adjustable seats that can slide up to 110 mm in range. For access to the third row, the second row seats can be folded down and tipped up on an edge as a compact package, providing a 376 mm wide entry width. All the five seats in the second and third row have Isofix points, and so does the front passenger seat, so you can fit up to six Isofix child seats in the Q7 if you ever have a need to.

Audi Q7

With all seven seats up, luggage space is 295 litres. Fold down the third row and you’ll get 770 litres, extendable to 2,075 litres if you fold the second row seat backs down as well. The loading lip is 46 mm lower than the outgoing Q7 to make loading easier. A powered rear hatch is standard, and can be activated by a kicking motion in the centre below the rear hatch. The same kicking motion can be used to close the hatch.

Driver aid systems include parking aids, adaptive cruise control with stop and go support in traffic jams, collision warning and mitigation, cross traffic alerts, active lane assist, automatic reverse and perpendicular parking, and a surround view camera. Optional is all wheel steering, which improves both low speed manoeuvrability as well as high speed stability. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn the opposite direction of the front wheels while at higher speeds, they follow the movement of the front wheels.

The Q7 will debut at next year’s Geneva Motor Show, after of which it will be launched in Germany from spring 2015. The starting price tag will be 61,000 euros, but as you know starting prices are relatively bare and adding on options to the kind of levels we’re used to seeing in Malaysia will raise the price considerably.