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2007 Audi Q7 4.2 Review

Better Late Than Never

By Alain Gayot

In short: A luxurious and sporty premium SUV.

If you want to know what the Audi Q7 is all about, look no further than its name: Q stands for Quattro, Audi's legendary all-wheel drive system, which is available for the first time in an SUV. The number 7 represents its seven-passenger seating capacity, another first for the German premium car manufacturer - although the third row is really only accessible by children or perhaps gymnasts. You may question whether the world needed another SUV, but it was a no-brainer for Audi.

“The introduction of the Q7 is the most important launch in our history,” said Johan de Nysschen, executive vice president Audi of America. “We are a small premium automobile company and SUVs comprise 50 percent of the American market, so we had to get into the game ... We emphasize performance, safety, design and quality, and this is exactly what the Q7 delivers.”

Indeed, Audi aficionados no longer have to run to competing dealerships to meet their sport utility needs. The Q7 bares a striking resemblance to the sporty Infiniti FX, and despite popular belief, it is not based on the Volkswagen Touareg. Performance is exemplary, as are the quality materials typical of anything sharing Audi’s design DNA. In fact, sitting in the Q7 feels a lot like being in an A6, with a third row of seating and additional ground clearance. The dashboard design featuring Audi's progressive MMI (Multi Media Interface) is particularly reminiscent of the A6, as it shares the same well-studied ergonomics, warm leather touches and large selection of up-to-date electronics.

While the Q7 offers plenty of sport, it boasts a fair share of utility as well. Both rear rows fold flat, offering a maximum cargo area of 72.5 cubic feet accessed by the standard programmable power tailgate. Seven seats are standard, but it's offered with a middle-row center console that shrinks capacity to six (the upcoming 3.6 base model will be standard with five seats). Curiously, with ten cup holders, the Q7 can house three more mocha lattes than it can accommodate people to drink them.

The base 4.2 starts at $49,900, while the $60,000 Premium edition comes with features that would normally be optional, such as heated steering wheel, middle row center console, panorama three-panel sunroof, four-zone climate control, rear-parking camera, DVD navigation system, voice recognition and 19-inch wheels (an S Line package offers 20-inch rims). The upcoming base model will feature a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter FSI V6, and there are rumors of a 5.2-liter V10 in the works.

We took our gorgeous Sycamore Green tester on a mixture of on-road and limited off-road driving, and were impressed by its agility and comfort in both arenas. Its optional adaptive suspension gave us additional ground clearance, and the very precise Servotronic steering never disappointed, whether on gravel, dirt, in tight parking situations (aided by the optional rear parking camera) or on pavement at highway speeds.

Speaking of (increasingly treacherous) freeway travel, one of the Q7's coolest features is Side Assist, which warns the driver of any potential bogeys lurking in rear or side blind spots. This first-of-its-kind safety feature utilizes radar technology similar to that found in the optional adaptive cruise control, and LED warning lights mounted in the side-view mirrors that blink with various intensities to alert the driver of possible hindrances. We were so impressed by Side Assist that if there was only one reason to consider the Q7, this would be it.

In Europe, of the 19,000 units slated for the first year of production, 12,000 have already been spoken for before even leaving the plant (Audi plans on selling 1,500 units per month in United States). These future Q7 owners should rest assured, they are purchasing an automobile for drivers passionate about sports car performance and having a coupe-like feeling to their sport utility vehicle. So pour in 26.4 gallons of fuel and explore the world with safety and pride in this long-awaited Audi SUV.

Warranty/Service: Four-year/50,000 mile limited warranty, 12-year limited warranty against rust, 24-hour roadside assistance for four-years/unlimited miles, one free scheduled maintenance at one-year/5,000 miles.

Base Price: $49,900

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front-engine, all-wheel-drive, 7-passenger, 5-door SUV

Engine: 4.2-liter V8
Horsepower: 350 bhp @ 6800 rpm
Torque: 325 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic

Curb weight: 5269 lbs
Wheelbase: 118.2 in
200.2/78.1/68.4 in
Turning circle: 39.4 feet

Brakes: four-wheel disc with ABS
independent front and rear, optional air suspension

Traction: all-wheel drive, traction control, vehicle stability control

front air bags, front side abdomen air bags, side curtain air bags in all three rows, optional rear side air bags, optional Side Assist, optional rear view camera

0-60 mph: 7 seconds
Top Speed: 130 mph (governed)

EPA City: 14 mpg
EPA Highway: 19 mpg

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Photography: AlphaMedia

(Updated 03/29/08 HC)