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Teased by Audi Malaysia since October, the new Audi Q7 is now officially launched. We have for now a sole variant, the 3.0 TFSI quattro, priced at RM589,900. The second-generation large SUV was first revealed last December, before making its show debut at the season opening 2015 NAIAS show in Detroit.

The Typ 4M replaces the original Q7 that had a fruitful 10-year lifespan. The old car’s substantial size stood out, and this one is no less imposing; although at 5,050mm long and 1,970 mm wide, it’s slightly shorter (37 mm) and narrower (15 mm) than the SUV it replaces. The 2,990 mm wheelbase is also marginally (12 mm) shorter than before.

Despite the slightly smaller footprint, Audi claims a longest in class and more headroom thanks to better packaging. The seven-seater’s boot volume is 770 litres, expandable to 1,955 litres with seats folded.

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The big news here isn’t the new Q7’s size, but its successful diet programme that has yielded a substantial weight loss of 325 kg; think four regular sized adults, three big guys or a concert grand piano. From a heavyweight, the Q7 is now the lightest SUV in its class, which includes the likes of BMW’s X5 and the new Volvo XC90. Our well-equipped 3.0 TFSI tips the scales at 2,030 kg.

Key is the body structure, where a new multimaterial design reduces weight by 71 kg. Ultra-high-strength parts made of hot-shaped steel form the backbone of the occupant cell. Aluminium castings, extruded sections and panels are used in the front and rear ends as well as the superstructure. They account for 41% of the structure. Other parts made entirely of aluminium are the doors (which shave 24 kg), front fenders, hood and rear hatch.

The Q7 sits on the VW Group’s scalable MLBevo platform, which also underpins the B9 Audi A4 and the Bentley Bentayga SUV. The Q7 recently scored the full five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test with an adult occupant score of 94%, bagging the “Euro NCAP Advanced” award in the process.

The 3.0 TFSI’s supercharged V6 engine produces 333 hp and 440 Nm of torque from 2,900 to 5,300 rpm, accelerating the big SUV from 0-100 km/h in just 6.3 seconds on its way to a electronically limited top speed of 250 km/h. That’s a full 1.6 seconds faster than its predecessor.

The supercharger (Audi prefers the term “mechanical charging module”) is deactivated when operating at part load, contributing to the decent fuel consumption of 7.9 litres per 100 km in the NEDC. There’s auto start-stop, too.

A new eight-speed tiptronic transfers the engine’s power to the quattro permanent AWD system. The torque converter automatic transmission offers a free-wheeling function when the driver steps off the gas, while a new vaporisation system enables the engine to run at extremely slow speeds below 1,000 rpm. Gears can be swapped manually by steering paddles or the lever, with commands transmitted by wire.

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The Audi Drive Select system provides seven modes here, more than the sedans – Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency, Allroad (ride height up by 25 mm), Lift/offroad (ride height 60 mm higher, max) and the customisable Individual. There’s even a loading mode that lowers the rear axle by 45 mm for easier boot access.

The pretty extensive standard kit for Malaysia includes adaptive air suspension, LED headlamps and DRLs (with high beam assist and washers), 20-inch 10-spoke rims, heated and auto anti-glare wing mirrors, powered tailgate and park assist with surround view camera.

Inside, the Q7’s dashboard looks like a scaled up version of the B9 A4’s (it’s the other way around, actually), which we really like. One gets the Audi Virtual Cockpit as seen on the TT, a three-spoke sports steering with paddles and buttons, four-zone auto air con, electric front seats with four-way lumbar and memory for the driver, ambient lighting and manual blinds for the rear windows. Comfort key (keyless, push start) is also in.

For infotainment, the Q7 gets MMI navigation plus with MMI touch (navi makes full use of the Virtual Cockpit). The system includes an 8.3-inch rising central display, 3D map display of POIs and city models, a touch sensitive panel with handwriting recognition and 10 GB flash memory for music and Bluetooth (calls and music streaming), among other things.

Sound comes from a Bose 3D Sound System with a 15-channel amp, 19 speakers and 558 watts total output. For trim, we get upper inlays in brushed aluminium and lower inlays in an anodised finish. The door sills get aluminium inlays, too. In the safety department, you’ll find eight airbags, a tyre pressure loss indicator, Isofix mounts (on all second- and third-row seats; five in total) and hill descent control, in addition to the usual ESC, ASR, EDL, ABS and EBD.

Once again, the new Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI quattro is priced at RM589,900 on-the-road without insurance. An S line package is available for RM13k, and it brings sportier exterior styling, twin five-spoke wheels, S line seats, gear knob, steering wheel, door sills and black headlining. Note that the white S line show car at the event (gallery below) does not have the exterior styling, but customer cars will. The show car’s Matrix LED headlamps and glass roof are not part of the S line package.

Audi Malaysia’s usual four-year or 120,000 km factory warranty applies.


GALLERY: Audi Q7 3.0 TFSI S line