Audi Q7 - First season, Episode Finale
Myths and legends. Superheroes with unlimited power. Fairytales where things always go the right way. That's how the stories for Q7 sounded for me. Especially after the rhetorical question "Have you ever driven a Q7?!" asked in a Bulgarian mafia serial the interest for the superpower Q7 graded. I have been listening to fisherman stories for the off-road ability and the road behavior and all my touts were "Yeah, right. 9-years old SUV can not be that good". Oldschool technics powered by modern technology. It is like installing Android 4.4 on Nokia 5110. Unnatural? Let's put a touch screen. Now you get my idea.
This was going to be my first test-drive on the latest Audi Q7 TDI Quattro. I was sure in my associations. It all started when I got the key. When I pressed a button the metal part of it popped. Cool. But for the middle of the last decade. But here's the modern technology – keyless access and start/stop engine. Perfect start! I have downloaded some music on my USB-drive and I was thinking of playing them. I started to look for USB-slot, but was I forgotten where it was? In the front armrest? No. In the refrigerated glovebox? No. Somewhere around the gearknob and the Bose audiosystem controls? Again no. On the face of the player I saw a button which says Open. I pressed it and a tiny cover really opened. There were hidden not one but two SD-card slots. I asked Google how to play my music and the answer was "you name it but without the USB-flas". Somewhere in the dashboard there was 20GB of storage for the MMI-system but how was I supposed to transfer the files? Then I started doing some gymnastics. I copied the music to a laptop, got the SD-card from my photocamera, downloaded the music to the card and uploaded it to the MMI-drive. Well done, Georgi! Then I started the engine and left. It all began with a city traffic. This new 8-gears auto transmission was working perfectly with the shifts and the intelligent auto start/stop engine system was reacting fast enough. After I got use to the controls of the multifunctional steering wheel, the navi-system ant the setup controls everything became clear. All the tools are sorted intuitively and I believe that they won't be a problem for a regular car-user.
In one of the gearshifts I accidental used the gear levers on the steering wheel. The gear was perfectly changed but I was a bit disappointed touching the lever. It is plastic with a strange surface and did not make any sound (we all well know the clicking sound of an Audi button). Strange way to save money from a materials. These two will probably work just fine in the next years (20-30) but every touch will make you hate them.
Favourite song. I pumped up the volume. The Bose audio system was brutal. Crystal clear sound. But something was "dancing" with the beat. The noise was coming from the right side somewhere between the doors. I couldn't find what is the problem there but while I was trying to I found some more bad plastic materials. The good thing about them is that they are low where your feet will be and the engineers knew that nobody will ever touch there trying to find quality materials.
Because of the total weight the fuel consumption would be bad for some people but for me it was okay. 12 liters per a hundred kilometers. It is quite a bad efficiency but lets not forget that we are in a SUV with a big boot and an all-wheel drive system. Fast accelerations and moving nervously in the city traffic are not the Q7 things. This clumsy body and the slow operating system of the modern gearbox make every try for a fast lane-change a risky business. But let's face the fact. Q7 is made for a slow movement and for looking respecting and good, not for a street racing.
On the highway things are similar. Accelerations are not well accepted by this 3.0 TDI engine, delivering 240 horse power. Yes, it is a fact that the gear ratios are perfectly arranged for the ideal revs but the system that controls it is slow. The kick-down button under the gas pedal is pressed but the gearbox reacts some two seconds after that. Then the motor needs another second for getting the boost. After that you can count on the full power. I got used to it.
There is an option where you can save a second or two. All you need to do is switch the gearknob from D to S. By doing this the gearbox is not keeping the revs lazy. So the time between pressing the gas and the actual movement is shortened.
The ride in Q7 is allright because of the air suspension. It has got 4 settings (Off-road, Off-road +, Comfort and Dynamic). The first two lift the clearance and the Plus mode can be used while driving with less than 15 km/h. Our poor roads are well stubbed in Comfort mode and you have got enough clearance to use your SUV normal. If you are quite enthusiastic as I am then put it on Dynamic. The clearance is unnatural. Q7 looks like something on the suspension is broken. But the ride is stiff, the front wheels are better connected to the steering wheel. I am sure that with these 4 modes the suspension is going to answer all your emotions.
Doing some off-road was not my idea because I did not want to brake any of the S-line details. And as me and my colleague wrote, doing multitasking is not the favourite thing for a SUV like this. Yes it definitely works for once or twice but it is obvious that Q7 is not feeling comfortable. Never the less I succeeded doing some climbs but I did them to prove to myself this theory. I think that the most important thing for a SUV is the comfort for 5 adults and enough space for their luggage. The panoramic glass roof makes the comfort level even better.
But lets talk about the road performance. This was my only unanswered question and I was going to find out what happens on the twisty road. Before looking the official technical data I assumed that Q7 weights about 2.2 tons. And how the hell this SUV will corner almost as good as perfectly prepared track car? There was no other options rather than fighting the physics. Right turn for third gear. Entry speed – 75 kms. I am keeping the line and after the apex trying to corner some more with the idea of catching some understeer. But no. Even the exit speed is the same. I assumed that I did not do it correctly. Combination of left, right and again right for about 80 km/h. In the first corner I am in the perfect line but then I decide that I must apply some acceleration. I believed that with the changes of direction the big body will get the disbalance and if not in the second corner in the third the line will be mistaken. Again the answer is no. Instead of this all my luggage in the trunk was a mess. And, by the way, the total weight of this allroader is 2345 kilos. This made the magic Quattro even more mystic and interesting. I don't know how it works. I don't care how it does. The only thing I know is that It makes Q7 perfect for a twisty roads like this.
And this is how the story ends as the first Q7 model. In 2015 we are waiting for the second generation which will be on sale in 2016. I hope that it is going to be fully-modernized and even better than before. I assume that the engineers will do their job that well that they are going to fix some little things in the next decade.
by Georgi Stefanov