2016 Audi Q7 first test drive

The Audi Q7 presents a bit of problem for the German automaker. They are currently selling out of their flagship SUV, a design they introduced almost 10 years ago. The concept of the stylish SUV struck a chord in the marketplace and it has been a perennial best-seller ever since it hit dealer showrooms in 2006.
2016 Audi Q7
So even with rock solid sales and after slight cosmetic tweaks over the years the Q7 was due for a new design. The all-new Audi Q7 was debuted at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Initial reaction was cautious, a situation I sincerely attribute to just how beloved the outgoing model was with buyers.
Audi recently held the Global launch for the vehicle in the Swiss village of Verbier. The town serves as the winter retreat for the Monaco seasonal set, but to be honest, I had never heard of the place and was a bit confused as to the choice of location. After all, here we were at a posh ski resort after all the snow and crowds had left.
The new Audi Q7 truly fulfills the term, “all-new”. The body has been re-designed with more wagon-like proportions. The vehicle appears smaller and lower to the roadway. A quick reference of the dimensions of both the outgoing and inbound models, reveal that your eyes are not deceiving you.
The new 2016 Audi Q7 is a few cm’s narrower and shorter than before. The truth is, there is more interior room in this streamlined model than before. Ride height remains the same, however, with an optional adaptive suspension, road manners can be improved by lowering the ride height by 30mm. The same system allows drivers to raise the Q7 some 60mm above normal when additional ground clearance is required.
2016 Audi Q7 models
The new Q7 will initially be offered in Canada with a pair of V6 engines, the venerable 3.0TFSI supercharged unit now producing 333 HP/324 lb-ft of torque, as well as 3.0TDI diesel unit, producing 272 HP and a staggering 442 lb-ft of torque. Audi has promised huge improvements in fuel economy from both engines. Audi estimates the 3.0TFSI rates an impressive 7.9 L/100 km while the diesel consumers 5.9 L/100 km. Part of those promised efficiencies will come from the universal installation of Audi’s 8 speed tiptronic transmission. Another and perhaps more significant change in the new Q7 is the increased use of lightweight high-strength steel and aluminum. Depending on trim level, the newest Q7 has reduced curb weight by up to 325 kilos!
The fuel economy leader in the Q7 lineup will undoubtedly be the upcoming Q7 e-tron model expected to finally come to Canada. This model utilizes the already stingy diesel, paired with an electric motor. The resulting combination produces a total 373HP and 516 lb-ft of torque. The combined fuel rating is a scant 1.7L/100 km yet will still sprint to 100kms/hr from a standstill in just 6 seconds.
Aside from the new looks and fuel savings Audi has also infused its premium SUV with loads of new technology. Inside the cabin the driver will appreciate the new customizable 12.3 inch TFT LCD instrument cluster. Being able to fill the instrument display with a large size Navigation map as opposed to a series of gauges or perhaps even combination of all of the above, is totally up to the individual driver’s tastes. In addition, a large 7 inch LCD panel extends from the dashboard. This centre mounted screen serves as the default Nav screen, infotainment interface, HVAC reference and back up camera monitor. The legendary Audi Multi-Media Interface (MMI) system has been refined and is as intuitive as ever. The Q7’s infotainment system now supports Apple and Android proprietary media systems. Also available is a 3D audio system, which in a test environment, performed exactly like a surround audio system in a theatre.
Audi Q7 rear view camera display
Another first is the availability of the Audi entertainment tablet. The unique 10 inch tablet was designed with a mobile environment in mind. Its anti-reflective screen is shatter-proof to avoid causing further injury in case of a collision.
The list of safety and convenience features is so impressively long they could not all be listed here in any detail. Highlights include adaptive cruise control with traffic assist cruise-control that will keep your Q7 following along in traffic, even stopping and starting in bumper to bumper mayhem. A self-parking system which functions for both parallel and perpendicular spots, as well as extended range infrared night vision are all available.
One new piece of technology making its debut is a guaranteed game changer. Audi has introduced trailer assist to the Q7. With a series of cones placed in a parking lot and a trailer loaded with a pair or Ducati Motorcycles (yes, Audi owns Ducati), testing of the system was available. In all honestly I regularly tow a boat and many of the German engineers on site admitted to not having much experience towing a trailer. My sense of over confidence quickly evaporated trying to back up the low profile trailer through the curved cone course. With the rear camera monitored directional trailer system, you simply steer the end of the trailer with the centre console mounted MMI knob, using theoretical overlays on the screen. The system keeps the trailer aligned and works out the steering angle and input required. This was revolutionary for me. The system also monitors straight line stability and mitigates jack-knifing on roadways. The system relies on a special trailer ball that uses input from a rotating ring on the equator of the ball, to determine trailer angle and position.
2016 Audi Q7 trailer assist
Another first for the Q7 is the offering of a 4-wheel steering system. The system will either steer all four wheels in parallel unison (at higher speeds) or counter steer them (at slower speeds) for improved handling. Driving up through the Swiss Alps, with its numerous hairpin turns and abundant switchbacks, the choice of location became apparent. The Quattro all-wheel drive system paired with the all-wheel steering made the new Q7 an absolute treat to drive. To cap it off, after our 20 degree day of blissful driving, the following morning blessed us with a raging snow storm.
Overall, no area of the 2016 Q7 has been left unimproved. Ten years of waiting has been rewarded with the new benchmark in the luxury SUV segment. Look for the new 2016 Audi Q7 to hit showrooms in December 2015. Prices have yet to be released.