GIVEN the industry’s highly competitive nature, automakers are constantly tweaking existing models to give them that extra oomph . Audi’s flagship SUV, the Q7, and its executive sedan, the A4, recently went under the knife.
And, according to Audi, it’s more than just nips and tucks generally associated with facelifts.
So, to showcase the new and improved models, last week the German manufacturer invited six journalists from Latin America and the Caribbean to its revered Audi Forum in Inglostadt, Germany, to get an up-close and personal look. We were not disappointed.
“The Q7 is a very important car for our brand, because it’s our top SUV — the biggest one we have. And it is our goal, our aim, to keep it fresh on the roads, and also to introduce into this important car all the technical advances that we already have introduced into our upper models like the A8, like the A7, like the A6. This is really important as we want to offer our customers in this segment the same benefits that we have in the other cars,” Andreas Fingas, international product marketing head, told the Jamaica Observer’s weekly Auto magazine.
“It is a beautiful car. The design is most important for the Audi brand and also for the Q7. So, to make an SUV that really looks impressive, this was the goal that has been pumped up a notch still with the product improvement… It is even more impressive and more massive than before,” he continued.
Four years into its second generation, the Audi Q7 is raising the bar. The large SUV is teeming with styling tweaks — visually and technically.
Outside, the Q7 bears a large octagon-shaped singleframe, with six upright slats providing the structure, and the fascia is recast to accept the larger opening. The two-part side air inlets have a much more expressive line, just like the sill area that underscores the large SUV’s ground clearance and, in turn, its off-road capabilities. The headlights, optionally in HD Matrix LED technology with Audi laser light, emphasise with their contour and light signature the width of the full-size model.
The SUV’s rear boasts a chrome strip creates the visual connection between the flat rear lights with their technical-looking graphics and sets the model apart from its predecessors.
Inside, the upgrades are strikingly noticeable. A new dash incorporates a fresh digital layout with dual touchscreens. Gone is the floating screen in the middle — it’s now part of the central dash along with a redesigned centre console. Despite most of the components looking very similar to the previous model year, Audi says the changes add just a tiny bit more interior space — 11 millimetres (0.4 inches). The SUV is decked out with technology including MMI navigation and Audi connect, which handles everything from traffic information to connecting with Amazon Alexa.
The new Audi Q7 is equipped with all-wheel steering which turns the rear wheels by up to five degrees in the opposite direction to the front wheels at low speeds and turns them in the same direction at higher speeds to improve stability. Adaptive air suspension is also featured.
Three mild-hybrid 3.0-litre V6 powertrains are available, with the choice of two diesels and one petrol. The entry-level 45 TDI diesel produces 228 bhp and 500Nm of torque with a claimed 0-62 mph time of 7.1 seconds and a top speed of 142 mph. Mid-range 50 TDI models produce 282 bhp and 600Nm of torque, delivering a 0-62 mph of 6.3 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph. The 55 TFSI petrol model comes with 335 bhp and 500Nm of torque, with a claimed 6.0 seconds and a 155 mph electronically limited top speed. An eco-focused plug-in hybrid 55 TFSI e version will be introduced a few months after initial sales.
The standard mild-hybrid technology plays a major part in the efficiency of the engines. In customer operation, this technology can reduce consumption by up to 0.7 litres per 100 kilometres. Its central component, the belt alternator starter (BAS), powers a 48-volt main electrical system in which a compact lithium-ion battery stores the energy.
“It shuts down the engine when you’re still rolling at 20 kilometres per hour (kph), so you save fuel. It will give you extended coasting function; so when you’re coasting on a highway, you’ll have up to 40 seconds of coasting available from 55 kph up to 160 kph,” Fingas told Auto.
Production for the new Q7 began in September. It is expected to hit the Jamaican streets in the first quarter of next year.