March 31, 2008
Let's get it out of the way; at OutDrive.tv we're as convinced by performance SUVs as the Pope is of gay marriage. If you need to carry loads, then you want a truck. If you need to carry kids, then look to the station wagon or, gasp, minivans, to fill the gap. Need performance on the Costco run - and who doesn't? There's the sport-wagon. Unlike the Pope, however, we're willing to give it all a try, and bearing the heavy burden of convincing us is Audi's 2008 Q7.
A firm mantle-of-the-Earth CLUNK of the door tells you everything you need to know about the Q7's build, as you settle into an interior so nice you'd be forgiven for considering living in it.
The leather interior is supple and well stitched, the seats exceptionally comfortable. The cup holders can withstand American sized beverages, with the Germans finally conceding to the land of super-sizing. The sound system is so dazzling, rightly so – it's filling a gothic cathedral space. The center console, gauges, the MMI (Multi Media Interface) and switchgear are carried over from the likes of the A6, so downscale SUV it's not. Three sections of panoramic sunroof lend an airy feel. Just to round it off the fit and finish are excellent.
Restrained? Not visually.
Behind that Prius eating front grill inflicting blunt force trauma on the atmosphere is a beefy 4.2L V8. Growling out a maximum 325 lb-ft of torque at a low 3,500RPM, a stomp off the line brings you to 100kph (60mph) in a claimed 7.1 seconds. If that doesn't slop your latte, the abrupt throttle action will.
For those who dare go there, the top speed is electronically limited to 208kph (130mph), and brought to you by the 350 horses under the hood. Any thought of such behaviour will require an unlimited Chevron corporate card.
There's ample passing power, but the V8 soundtrack is fanfare for your personal scorched earth policy. Plant your right foot, and instantaneous fuel consumption shoots upwards past 40L/100km. Switching the info-centre to average consumption is slightly less accusatory – a mere 16.8L/100km. Fitting with WinterPride, the Q7 has a thirst to match a drag queen on a bender – if you intend on attending such events we suggest taking passengers willing to split fuel costs.
Audi is attempting an uneasy balance between sporting aspirations, luxury, and mass with the Q7's suspension. Our tester lacked the adjustable air suspension option, and that's a pity. A BMW X5 will make your lipo-sculpture jiggle, but the Q7 over a few potholes will invalidate you from organ donation. Internal bruising seems the price of adding "performance" to the SUV mix.
The only time the Q7 truly feels right is under the load of passengers and gear, mellowing the suspension to merely jostling. That's a call to pack the Q7 full of friends and head to WinterPride if ever there was. Hustling its capacious booty though the corners and sweepers of the Sea to Sky Highway, the Audi's biggest redefines "Whistler Express".
This is still a massive vehicle, 2390 kg (5269 lbs) in base configuration, so to quote WinterPride passenger Di Hebden, "It has more body roll than Star Jones!"
The handling nearly matches the BMW X5, despite the Q7 being a foot longer, and somehow the X5 feels slightly more top heavy. Aggressive cornering is a matter of faith in the lab-coats from Ingolstadt though.
From your majestic helm the Q7 feels vague, you can almost smell the silicon glowing red-hot as CPUs process Matrix streams of vectors in the traction management's battle with Newton's Laws. The Q7 never quite convinces that it's firmly grounded, and we never found ourselves indifferent to corner entry speed despite the stability.
The Q7 is, of course, equipped with Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system, featuring a 60/40 front/rear torque split and automatic center-locking differential.
Here's something I recommend to any seasonal driver, take your vehicle out to a large open space and get to know its winter limits. In the case of the Q7, a very large open space… and dial up Blue Danube on the iPod for effect.
In the end though, the Q7 is like buying a full Trojan's XL package every night of the year. The 2008 Audi Q7 covers all the contingencies, protects you in full, but that might be an exercise in optimistic excess, and on a personal level my needs might be a bit smaller than that.
Base Price: $42,500
Model as Tested: $63,150.00
Article provided in partnership with OutDrive.ca - Auto Reviews with a Twist.