Car group tests

Audi Q7 vs Volvo XC90 & Land Rover Discovery

Can Audi’s new Q7 depose leading SUVs from Volvo and Land Rover in its first test?

If you’re after a seven-seater with more luxury than a conventional MPV, the potential pool of cars to pick from is growing. 

Best SUVs to buy now

There’s no let-up when it comes to new premium models hitting the market, and the latest model to join the ranks is the new Audi Q7, which is loaded with impressive gadgets and a sumptuous interior.

But it also boasts some incredible technology underneath its sharply styled skin that means it stands a good chance of going straight to the top of its class.  

Best family cars

However, first it’ll have to beat our Car of the Year: the Volvo XC90. Life is tough at the top, and the arrival of the new Q7 means the XC90 is facing its most difficult fight yet.

But Volvo’s seven-seat SUV represents a significant step forward for the brand and we already know it has what it takes to beat the best. So can it do it here?

We’ve also lined up the Land Rover Discovery. It might be long in the tooth now, having lost out to the XC90 previously, but the Discovery is looking to salvage its reputation before an all-new model arrives next year.

Plus, with Land Rover’s famed off-road ability, can it offer something its rivals can’t match? Read on to find out.

Audi Q7 review

Volvo XC90 review

Land Rover Discovery review

Click the links above to read individual reviews, and scroll down to see which large SUV comes out on top...

Head-to-head

Hi-tech lights

Headlights are a huge part of how modern cars look, with new tech allowing clever lighting signatures as design details. The Q7 and XC90’s headlamps make a real feature of this and complement the bold front grilles, but the older Discovery’s units are constrained by the car’s basic shape. Still, it’s likely the next model will be more striking.

Air springs

All three cars ride impressively well thanks to air-suspension. It’s standard on the Discovery, but a fairly costly option on the other two. However, with the extra suppleness it brings when you’re cruising, and the improved body control when driving faster, we’d recommend it.

Seating seven

The Discovery is huge inside, and it’s the best if you’ll be carrying a full complement of passengers on a regular basis. Yet the Volvo (above) is the best compromise for shorter or occasional trips with its classy mix of high-up seating and comfy interior.

Verdict

1st place: Audi Q7 

Supreme ride quality, incredible agility for such a big car and a powerful V6 engine just edge the Q7 ahead of the XC90. While it’s more expensive, you do get what you pay for, with slightly better interior tech and build quality that’s just ahead of the Volvo’s. There are plenty of family friendly features on both cars, but it’s the Audi’s car-like driving experience that seals the win.

2nd place: Volvo XC90

Stunning design and a luxurious interior mean the XC90 is still a brilliant SUV. Only the marginal hit to refinement and ride quality compared to the Q7 stop it from succeeding again. It’s also not as fast – or as good to drive – but a big boot, versatile seating and attractive pricing make the tech-laden Volvo an enticing car if you want an alternative to the usual premium brands. 

3rd place: Land Rover Discovery

It might have been upgraded over the years, but next to its newest rivals the Discovery feels a step behind. While it still drives beautifully and offers masses of space and practicality, it pumps out too much CO2 and is pricey next to the Q7 and XC90. It’s great off-road, yet this alone isn’t enough in this company. However, we’re sure the next Discovery will be a real contender.

Other options in this category

Range Rover Sport HSE 5+2

Price: £63,450 Engine: 3.0-litre V6, 302bhp

Range Rover Sport - front static

For £1,500 on top of the standard Range Rover Sport HSE, you can get a 5+2 seating layout. It doesn’t offer as much room in the rear as these cars, but has the usual Range Rover cruising ability and ride, and is a true premium seven-seat SUV.

Tesla Model S (7-seat)

Price: £48,300 Engine: 70kWh battery, 311bhp

It doesn’t have the high-up driving position of a 4x4, but the Tesla Model S is incredibly refined and supremely luxurious. A £2,500 option adds two rear-facing chairs in the boot, giving capacity to carry seven people in this tech-laden premium saloon.

Key specs:

 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro S lineVolvo XC90 D5 AWD InscriptionLand Rover Discovery HSE
On-the-road price/total as tested£53,835/£63,025£50,185/£64,850£54,500/£54,500
Residual value (after 3yrs/30,000)£25,098/46.6%£27,552/54.9%£31,000/56.9%
Depreciation£28,737£22,633£23,500
Annual tax liability std/higher rate£3,002/£6,003£2,797/£5,594£3,410/£6,821
Annual fuel cost (12k/20k miles)£1,977/£3,294£1,875/£3,125£2,290/£3,817
Ins. group/quote/road tax band/cost41/£937/G/£18034/£784/G/£18042/£787/K/£290
Cost of 1st/2nd/3rd service£318/£461/£199£300 (3yrs)£699 (5yrs)
    
Length/wheelbase5,052/2,994mm4,950/2,984mm4,829/2,885mm
Height/width1,741/1,968mm1,776/2,008mm1,882/2,053mm
EngineV6/2,967cc4cyl in-line/1,969ccV6/2,993cc
Peak power268/3,250 bhp/rpm221/4,250 bhp/rpm252/4,000 bhp/rpm
Peak torque600/1,500 Nm/rpm470/1,750 Nm/rpm600/2,000 Nm/rpm
Transmission8-spd auto/4wd8-spd auto/4wd8-spd auto/4wd
Fuel tank capacity/spare wheel85 litres/repair kit71 litres/repair kit82 litres/spare wheel
Boot capacity (7/5/2 seats)295/770/1,955 litres451/1,102/1,951 litres172/1,260/2,558 litres
Kerbweight/payload/towing weight2,060/880/3,500kg2,130/741/2,700kg2,570/690/3,500kg
Turning circle/drag coefficient12.4 metres/N/A11.9 metres/0.29Cd11.5 metres/N/A
Basic warranty (miles)/recovery3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (60,000)/3yrs3yrs (unltd)/3yrs
Service intervals/UK dealersVariable/13118,000 miles (1yr)/10915,000 miles (1yr)/130
Driver Power manufacturer/dealer pos.13th/25th17th/22nd29th/24th
Euro NCAP: Adult/child/ped./pointsN/AN/A4/3/1 (2006)
    
0-60/30-70mph6.3/5.9 secs8.0/7.9 secs8.4/8.3 secs
30-50mph in 3rd/4th2.8/3.6 secs3.6/4.6 secs3.3/3.7 secs
50-70mph in 5th/6th/7th/8th4.7/6.1/7.8/13.7 secs5.9/6.9/9.0/12.7 secs5.2/6.5/7.9/12.1 secs
Top speed/rpm at 70mph145mph/1,500rpm137mph/1,600rpm112mph/1,650rpm
Braking 70-0/60-0/30-0mph48.6/35.6/9.1m46.1/33.9/8.7m50.6/38.1/9.2m
Noise levels outside/idle/30/70mph75/52/63/68dB73/53/65/71dB66/58/58/60dB
Auto Express econ (mpg/mpl)/range31.4/6.9/587 miles33.1/7.3/517 miles27.1/6.0/489 miles
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined42.1/47.1/45.6mpg45.6/52.3/49.6mpg33.2/39.8/36.7mpg
Govt urban/extra-urban/combined9.3/10/4/10.0mpl10.0/11.5/10.9mpl7.3/8.8/8.1mpl
Actual/claimed CO2/tax bracket241/153g/km/28%229/152g/km/28%279/213g/km/37%
    
Airbags/Isofix/parking sens/cameraEight/yes/yes/£500Seven/yes/yes/£700Eight/yes/yes/yes
Auto gearbox/stability/cruise controlYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Climate control/leather/heated seatsYes/part/yesYes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes
Metallic paint/xenon lights/keyless go£675/LED/yes£700/LED/yesYes/yes/yes
Sat-nav/USB/DAB radio/BluetoothYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yesYes/yes/yes/yes

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