2016 Audi Q7 is One of the SUV World’s Biggest Losers
Next-Gen SUV Gets a Makeover, Goes on a Diet
Audi revealed the 2016 Q7 today, offering a first look at its seven-seat rival for the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz ML/GLE, and we like what we see.
Weighing in at just 4,343 pounds, the lightest Q7 variant weighs over 700 pounds less than its predecessor. Audi accomplished this amazing feat through increased use of high-strength steel throughout the car’s backbone, and many of the car’s exterior panels are made from aluminum. The new Q7 is also shorter and narrower than the 2015 model, but Audi says it offers even more head and legroom for passengers. The next Q7 is built on the same architecture that will underpin the next Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, and unnamed Bentley SUVs.
Initially, buyers will be given their choice of two 3.0L V-6s: the supercharged TFSI gas engine or the turbodiesel TDI. Those engines carry over from the current Q7, but their power ratings have been upgraded. The gas motor will now make 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, increases of 53 hp and 30 lb-ft. The new TDI Clean Diesel will produce 272 hp and a staggering 443 lb-ft of torque, outpacing the current Q7 diesel by 32 ponies and 37 units of twist.
There are two more big helpings of good news for diesel fans, too. While the Q7 will initially only be available with one diesel option, eventually, the SUV will be available with three oil-burning engines. Soon, a lower-output 3.0L diesel will join the lineup, with better fuel economy and lower emissions to go with its 218hp, 369–lb-ft power output.
Most interestingly, the Q7 will also be available with a diesel engine mated to a plug-in hybrid propulsion system, called e-tron. Combining diesel with electricity and all-wheel drive is a first for Audi, and that vehicle promises to be an absolute torque monster. Additionally, Audi says that a full battery charge will be good for an electric-only range of 35 miles, making this version of the Q7 the choice for eco-freaks and torque addicts alike. For comparison's sake, Volvo claims its XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid will be able to travel 25 miles using just the batteries.
Rounding out the powertrain choices, Audi will slate a 2.0L TFSI turbocharged gasoline I-4 for certain markets, including the United States. This engine will produce 252 hp and 273 lb-ft, which would probably be enough for this newly lightened SUV. We doubt the motor will provide much verve, but it should be adequate for most drivers’ needs.
The crux of all that weight reduction and powertrain refinement is pretty amazing fuel economy. Audi claims the 3.0 TDI will get 41 mpg, and the 3.0 TFSI will get 31 mpg, while the Q7 e-tron plug-in might get the equivalent of 138 mpg on a full charge. Amazing.
Coming with the new engineering is a pretty attractive shell. The new Q7 has the newest version of Audi’s six-point single-frame grille, which dominates the front end. We think it looks a little bit like Darth Vader’s mask, and it could probably be toned down a little, but it’s not bad. On the S-Line model Audi showed, the grille is joined at the front by large air inlets on either side of the front bumper, and thin LED-accented headlights glower over the road.
Audi has reduced the vehicle’s visual height as well by accenting long, horizontal lines on the body sides. The fenders appear to be flared subtly, hearkening back to the original Audi Quattro of the 1980s, and the rear quarter windows are more upright, giving the back end a nicer, squared-off appearance as opposed to the current model’s swoopy rump. The current Q7’s wraparound-tailgate styling element carries over, as it does on all of Audi’s Q models. To be totally honest, the new Q7 looks a lot like the Audi A4/S4 Avant wagons of 2002-2008, but that’s a good thing. It’s a very purposeful design, and we love it.
The interior is much more minimalist than before, although not so much as the new Audi TT. Audi’s boat-throttle shifter makes an appearance, as does the next-generation MMI infotainment system. Now powered by a quad-core processor from NVIDIA, the MMI system features enhanced graphics on its high-definition display screen, and Audi boasts the system can now detect natural speech, making voice commands much more intuitive. The interior design conforms well to Audi’s current trends, but it’s modernized and very attractive. As we mentioned earlier, space is improved for the first and second rows, and a third row seat is again optional.
The new Q7 goes on sale in Germany this summer, with U.S. sales sometime after that, with no pricing announced. The Q7 will likely spawn a Q8 "coupe" variant to compete with the BMW X6 and Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.