Here's the car Audi says will clean up in the SUV market. Looking to overturn the recent decline in popularity of large off- roaders, this new Q7 features the firm’s 3.0-litre TDI Clean Diesel engine that aims to reduce pollution as you drive.
A small tank filled with a liquid called AdBlue sprays a fine mist into the hot exhaust pipe, converting nitrogen oxide gases into nitrogen and water. A full tank will last around 20,000 miles, and simply requires topping up at each service by Audi technicians.
With 240bhp and 500Nm of torque, the V6 engine offers an impressive turn of speed. And with the promise of 31.7mpg and 234g/km, it makes a lot of sense in the real world. A six-speed DSG twin-clutch gearbox goes about its business with great efficiency.
Adaptive air-suspension gives a comfortable ride, and even though the car isn’t aimed at serious mud-pluggers, it delivers excellent performance over the rough stuff.
Changes to the exterior are subtle, amounting to a revised tailgate, bumpers, lights and a new gloss black grille. Inside, the newcomer also retains the same look and quality as the original. But there is an updated MMI system with 3D graphics for the navigation system, a fresh interior colour scheme and an easy-access seat mechanism to help those sitting in the rearmost row enter and exit the vehicle. With these chairs folded into the floor, the Audi also has the largest load area in its class.
We also had the opportunity to try the existing 4.2 TDI, an engine which sounds better and has more punch.
We don’t think it warrants the extra cost over the smaller Clean Diesel, though. The 3.0-litre has more than enough performance for most situations.
However, the version we tried was fitted with carbon ceramic brakes, previously available only on the massive V12 TDI, and a worthwhile addition.
Although initially lacking in feel, there is no questioning their fade-free stopping power, pulling the SUV to a halt in an impressively short distance. We also had the chance to listen to our favourite tunes on the Bang and Olufsen audio system, which delivers simply fantastic sounds, but at an eye-watering price of £4,400.
Overall, the Q7 is much the same as before, but with a few more polished edges. Of course, the star of the show is the new 3.0-litre Clean Diesel, which is both smooth and refined, while offering decent performance and economy. And even if the V8 diesel delivers a bit more poke, we would stick with the smaller engine and spend the savings on that amazing stereo instead.
Rival: BMW X5
Big, brash and brilliant to drive, the BMW’s appeal was recently boosted by a facelift. A hybrid is coming, but we reckon the xDrive3.0d is tough to beat.
* Price: £42,905
* Engine: 3.0-litre V6 diesel
* Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive with self-locking diff
* 0-62/top speed: 8.5/134mph
* Econ/CO2: 31.7mpg/234g/km
* Equipment: MMI sat-nav and entertainment system, 19-inch alloys, climate control, LED lights, adaptive air-suspension, iPod dock, CD player, eight speakers
* On sale: July