Skip advert
Advertisement

New Audi SQ7 2021 review

We test high-performance Audi SQ7 SUV that also has a glorious V8 soundtrack

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Find your Audi Q7
Offers from our trusted partners on this car and its predecessors...
Or are you looking to sell your car?
Customers got an average £1000 more vs part exchange quotes
Advertisement

Verdict

In the world of V8-powered large SUVs, the SQ7 makes a good case for itself. Its performance will put a smile on your face and those of up to six passengers, it’s built as an Audi should be and it’s cheaper than its rivals. Although it’s nothing special on twistier roads, few big SUVs are. So if you must move lots of people quickly and have some fun doing it, the SQ7 is a good choice.

Advertisement - Article continues below

In a world that’s quickly shifting away from diesel, Audi’s rapid SQ7 SUV has finally swapped its mighty eight-cylinder diesel engine for an even mightier V8 bi-turbo petrol motor. You might well ask why it didn’t make the move sooner, allowing BMW X5s, Porsche Cayennes and Range Rover Sports to take all the V8 petrol glory. So has this latest Audi performance SUV been worth the wait?

At the SQ7’s heart is a glorious engine that propels this sizeable seven-seater from 0-62mph in just 4.1 seconds; that’s quicker than an Aston Martin DBX. Power stands at 500bhp (up from 429bhp in the diesel) with 770Nm of torque (down 130Nm) available between 2,000 and 4,000rpm. It gets the car from 50-75mph in just 3.8 seconds, and top speed is limited to 155mph.

It’s not all about power, though, because Audi’s cylinder-on-demand (COD) tech shuts down four of the eight cylinders under lighter loads to improve efficiency. Well, Audi claims 23.3mpg as an average, so the word efficiency should be used in context.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Paying £79,095 (before options) is unlikely to leave you moaning about the cost of fuel, though, especially as you’ll be buying an SQ7 to enjoy the performance.

And enjoy it you will – in a straight line. Press the starter button and the sound of the V8 springing into life will make the hairs on your neck spring to life as quickly as the V8 itself; the fruity crescendo from the exhausts is a taste of things to come.

Advertisement - Article continues below

At parking speeds the SQ7 is like a powerful pet on a lead, requiring, in this case, a delicate foot to prevent you from being propelled forwards at an unexpectedly rapid rate of knots. But when you do get a chance to put your foot down, the two twin-scroll turbos spin furiously, the V8 lets out a full-blooded roar and you’re shoved snugly back into your leather seat.

At this point, it’ll be worth looking in the rear-view mirror to see the look of shock (or fun) on the faces of your passengers – and there could be five of them behind you sitting across rows two and three. Never has so much straight-line performance and aural drama been available to so many.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

You’ll have spotted by now that we’ve referred to straight-line performance a couple of times and there’s a reason for that; this is not a car to be hustled. It does a reasonable job of disguising its bulk on twisty roads, but there’s only so much the adaptive air suspension and rear-wheel steering (it moves the back wheels in the opposite direction to the fronts at slow speeds, and in the same direction as the fronts above 37mph) can do. After all, this is a car that weighs significantly more than two tonnes and is 1,739mm tall. Physics ensures the SQ7 has its limitations, and in cornering terms they come much sooner than they would in the Porsche Cayenne. But then, the Porsche would force you to leave a couple of passengers behind.

When you’re not enjoying the performance and noise, the SQ7 has a civilised side. The steering is more suited to relaxed driving, while the slick eight-speed automatic gearbox suits that, too.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Generally, the ride is pretty comfortable, in spite of this model’s sportier bent. Our version sat on the smaller 21-inch wheels (more expensive Black Edition and Vorsprung models get 22-inch rims), and while you’ll certainly notice the lumps and bumps on the road surface, you’ll not actually be jiggled around too much inside.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

That boomy exhaust note soon settles down when you relax your right foot, too, making the SQ7 a decent cruiser. And the cabin is as luxuriously trimmed as you’d expect given the price, although Audi will still tempt you with a sizeable options list.

All Q7s offer decent space inside, wherever you sit, although adults could complain if you leave them in row three for too long. You might find yourself a little more relaxed with a better view out in a Land Rover Discovery, but that car doesn’t come with a burbly V8 up front.

In fact, when you look at the power and performance on offer, the SQ7 starts to seem like good value when compared with V8-engined rivals. Porsche gets closest on price with an £85,000 Cayenne GTS – but it’s slower and has fewer seats. Go for a Range Rover Sport SVR and it’s slower again and costs more than £100,000. A BMW X5 M Competition or a Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S will both beat the SQ7 in a sprint, but they’re even more expensive than the V8-engined Range Rover Sport, priced from £113,000 and £116,000 respectively.

Model:Audi SQ7 TFSI Tiptronic
Price:£79,095
Engine:4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol
Power/torque:500bhp/770Nm
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
0-62mph:4.1 seconds
Top speed:155mph
Economy:23.3mpg
CO2:276g/km
On saleNow
Skip advert
Advertisement
Editor-in-chief

Steve Fowler has been editor-in-chief of Auto Express since 2011 and is responsible for all editorial content across the website and magazine. He has previously edited What Car?, Autocar and What Hi-Fi? and has been writing about cars for the best part of 30 years. 

Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

New Volkswagen Golf 2024: facelifted hatchback icon on sale from 11 April
Facelifted Volkswagen Golf - front static
News

New Volkswagen Golf 2024: facelifted hatchback icon on sale from 11 April

The eighth-generation Golf has been given a mid-life refresh - just in time for the model’s 50th birthday
9 Apr 2024
Toyota Yaris vs Renault Clio 2024 twin test: hybrid supermini battle
Toyota Yaris vs Renault Clio E-Tech - front tracking
Car group tests

Toyota Yaris vs Renault Clio 2024 twin test: hybrid supermini battle

With more and more electrified rivals arriving, Toyota has given its hybrid-only Yaris a facelift. We put it up against Renault’s class-leading Clio.
13 Apr 2024
Car Deal of the Day: stylish Peugeot 2008 is a steal at an incredible £142 a month
Peugeot 2008 facelift - full front
News

Car Deal of the Day: stylish Peugeot 2008 is a steal at an incredible £142 a month

Buyers can snap up the Peugeot 2008 small SUV at a bargain price; it’s our Car Deal of the Day for 10 April at just £142 a month
10 Apr 2024