Better late than never--that's Audi's approach to the luxury-SUV segment, which it is entering for the first time with the all-new Q7. But good things come to those who wait, right? The Q7, at least on paper, appears to be a good thing. It sports a 4.2-liter/350-hp direct-injection V-8, essentially the same engine in the hot-rod RS4 sports sedan; it offers seating for up to seven, with second and third rows that fold flat when cargo, and not passengers, is the priority; and it has a long of standard features, including Quattro all-wheel drive, ESP stability control, 18-inch wheels, and the MMI interior operating system. An adaptive air suspension will be offered as an option when U.S. sales begin in summer 2006.
Shortly after, in the fall, a 3.6-liter/280-hp V-6 will join the engine menu, lowering the V-8's entry price, which will likely be around $50,000. The biggest news regarding the Q7 came when Audi surprised the press with the Q7 Hybrid concept, which is powered by the 4.2-liter V-8 and an electric motor, the latter good for 43 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. The result, according to Audi, is fuel consumption nearly 13 percent less than in the standard V-8 model. Audi projects that the Q7 Hybrid will arrive in the U.S. sometime in 2008.