If you think size matters, you’ll love the Audi Q7. This full-sized SUV is one of the biggest and most imposing cars on the road, and has proven a real success for the brand since it arrived back in 2006.
The Q7 is typically Audi: superbly built, with a host of gadgets and good (if not brilliant) to drive, despite its size. But it’s starting to show its age – you expect a car that’s so big and well equipped to have a five-star Euro NCAP crash test rating, but the Q7 got only four stars.
The Q7 arrived in September 2006, with a choice of 4.2-litre V8 FSI petrol and 3.0-litre V6 TDI diesel engines. By June 2007, these had been joined by a 4.2 V8 TDI, while five months later, Audi gave the 3.0-litre TDI more muscle and improved its fuel economy.
It introduced the world’s most powerful diesel to the Q7 range in spring 2008 – the 6.0-litre V12 TDI delivered 493bhp – while a facelift in July the following year brought a new grille, bumpers and lights, plus an upgraded interior with extra kit. The low-CO2 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel was added to the range at the same time.
Consumption was cut further by the addition of an eight-speed auto as standard a year later. The 3.0-litre TDI 204, available from February 2012, was even cleaner.
Most seven-seater SUVs are as cramped as the Q7 in the third row, including the BMW X5 and Volvo XC90. The Mercedes GL-Class is on a par with the Audi in terms of cabin ambience and image. There’s more space, but it’s not as much fun as the X5, which is the best driver’s choice.
However, the Land Rover Discovery 4 offers the most space and best off-road ability. If seven seats are key, check out the Mitsubishi Shogun and Toyota Land Cruiser; they’re also great off-road, but neither is as classy or dynamic on tarmac as the Q7.