Neither engine is wanting for more zip. The premium Q7 might better squirt from light to light due to its torque advantage, but you don't feel a huge difference due to the smooth, but always-working, eight-speed transmission. Bounce off the gas pedal in fast-flowing traffic and you're often changing down or up faster than either the digital readout or your brain can follow. Gears one to six feel shorter than normal, while seven and eight are quite obviously nosebleed overdrives; rarely do you see eighth anywhere but on the freeway. Flooring it at roughly 70 mph sends the transmission quickly down to fifth with a bit of a kick; enough to bring bemused smiles to those who grew up with four-speed autos.
So is it a good powertrain combo? More yes than no. If Audi's efficiency claims can be backed up, these engines are just what the doctor ordered in this Brave Green World. The low-output 3.0 TFSI is just powerful enough, while the premium version will keep the absolutely corrupted satisfied. The transmission upshifts smoothly through all eight gears, so there is no problem during acceleration, but there is a bit of delay in response when coming down. Then there's the excess of it all. With such aggressive weight reduction and engine efficiency technology implemented, was it really necessary to add two extra cogs to a perfectly fine six-speed? These are the thoughts your brain will ask but not necessarily have time to answer as the eight-speed drops to the right gear.
Questions still remain. Though we found the performance of the base engine fine for stop-and-go and bike-path traffic, we never got to ring it out either in protracted full-speed/load conditions. Likewise, we'd love to be able to put Audi's impressive fuel-economy claims to the test. Looks like we'll have to wait for another shot when the cars come to this side of pond. One thing is clear: Although the German consumer may hate the Q7, Audi certainly does not. For 2011, it has chosen to make it a rolling showcase of its latest technology.
| 2011 Audi Q7 3.0T |
| Base price || $50,000-62,000 (est) |
| Vehicle layout || Front-engine, AWD, 7-pass, 4-door, SUV |
| Engine || 3.0L/272-333-hp/295-325-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve V-6 |
| Transmission || 8-speed automatic |
| Curb weight || 5000 lb (est) |
| Wheelbase || 118.2 in |
| Length x width x height || 200.7 x 78.1 x 68.4 in |
| 0-60 mph || 6.9-7.9 sec (mfr est) |
| EPA city/hwy fuel econ || Not yet rated |
| On sale || 40483.0 |