2021 Audi SQ7 first drive evaluation: Do all of it, carry all of it and be fast about it

Little greater than a decade in the past, for those who wished an Audi that might hit 60 mph in below 4.5 seconds, your native seller would’ve had precisely one mannequin to indicate you: the corporate’s brand-new R8 supercar, packing a 4.2-liter V8 and six-digit price ticket. In the present day, that very same salesperson would possibly unexpectedly stroll you over to an 2021 Audi SQ7, if solely to observe your cerebrum twist itself right into a pretzel. Like Audi’s now-iconic mid-engined supercar, this brand-new SUV has additionally arrived packing a TFSI V8 and a price ticket that, sure, can exceed six digits. 

Humorous factor, although: This three-row utility automobile has much more energy, torque and it will get higher gas economic system. See? Because it seems, 2020 is not all dangerous.

Consider it or not, the heavyweight crossover seen on these digital pages would really give Audi’s first-generation sports activities automobile a critical run for its cash from stoplight to freeway merge. Packing 500 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque from its 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, the SQ7 even has a vastly extra power-dense engine — the naturally aspirated 4.2-liter V8 in Ye (Not So) Olde 2008 R8 Coupe solely mustered 420 hp and 317 lb-ft and that powerplant, associates, was a landmark second in metallurgy.

In the present day, Audi presents an entire vary of fashions able to trouncing the unique R8’s efficiency figures — most for a lot much less cash. In fact, none are as incongruous as this 5,300-pound SUV, not to mention as capacious. The German automaker says this seven-passenger specific can hit 60 mph in a scant 4.three seconds — a tenth faster than the unique R8 — and energy to a prime pace of 155 mph on its 21-inch summer season tires. (Non-compulsory all-seasons carry a significant v-max haircut, all the way in which all the way down to 130 mph.)

Let me clear my throat

These efficiency and consumption figures paint a visceral image that is underlined — considerably — by a model-specific multi-mode exhaust. Poke the starter button and the Q7’s V8 barks briefly earlier than rapidly settling to idle. You may know immediately that this is not a garden-variety four- or six-cylinder Q7, however even with SQ7’s extra assertive tone, it is nonetheless not significantly vocal by default. 

We want the large V8 roar was a bit extra audible, particularly from inside.

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To vary that, you will must cycle by way of the Drive Choose menu. Placing the SQ7 into Sport opens up the exhaust valves whereas amplifying different efficiency attributes like steering weight and transmission programming. Alternatively, you possibly can name up extra sound particularly by tailoring the exhaust setting within the Particular person mode. The touchscreen preset for the loudest choice known as Current, which reads a bit like a grade-school suck-up throughout attendance roll name.

That ‘instructor’s pet’ imagery appears apt, as a result of regardless of possessing a extra strident soundtrack than its European counterparts (owing to completely different particulate filters), this SQ7 might arguably stand to be a bit extra vocal nonetheless. Efficiency fashions from AMG or Jaguar’s SVR are considerably extra declarative inside and outside and even BMW’s non-M specials could be, too. Sure, I do know this is not an RS Q7, however within the absence of such a mannequin, it would be good to have an much more socially reprehensible setting, if solely to blow out psychological cobwebs on lonely winding roads. As it’s, the V8 makes a high-quality sound, it is only a bit too muffled by the point it makes its method inside.

Extra full efficiency

In fact, Audi’s engineers have not simply fitted the SQ7 with 165 extra horses and almost 200 lb-ft extra torque than their next-most-powerful Q7. There’s a normal adaptive air suspension system that hunkers 15 millimeters decrease by default and, regardless of firmer tuning, the SQ7’s setup nonetheless ably negotiates Michigan’s pockmarked roads (no imply feat contemplating the 285/40-series low-profile Continental ContisportContact 5 rubber and 21-inch wheels). There’s additionally extra aggressive tuning for the eight-speed Tiptronic automated and model-specific throttle mapping and digital safety-nanny settings.

The 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 produces a wholesome 500 hp and 568 lb-ft of torque.

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Maybe most significantly, all SQ7s include all-wheel steering, a characteristic non-compulsory on lesser Q7s that gives as much as 5 levels of rear-axle steering. Mixed with the SQ7’s rear-biased 40:60 Quattro torque cut up, this SUV is surprisingly nimble, be it hustling down a B-road or jousting to seize that final early morning parking spot at Orangetheory. Whereas it nonetheless appears like an enormous automobile, when pushed laborious, the SQ7 does shrink round you sufficient to really feel extra like a midsize efficiency wagon than a high-power SUV. (Truthful sufficient, as that is roughly what most of those pavement-bound utility automobiles really are.)

One factor that does not shrink when going laborious, nevertheless, is gas consumption. EPA estimates name for 15 miles per gallon metropolis, 21 freeway and 17 mixed, however leadfoots will not discover it laborious to ship that determine considerably south.

Massive, however not too large

This SUV’s adroit dealing with can also be a touch upon its (comparatively) modest footprint. The SQ7 stretches 199.6 inches from its distinctive, mask-like, double-slat grille to its model-specific rear bumper. By comparability, the Mercedes-Benz GLS580 spans an enormous 205 inches and weighs about 400 kilos extra. The BMW X7 M50i compares equally. It is solely barely shorter than the Benz at 203.three inches and it is greater than 300 kilos heftier than the automobile seen right here. 

In reality, even when it is longer than its Porsche Cayenne platform-mate, the SQ7’s dimensions however assist it really feel considerably extra wieldy than key rivals. That sensation would probably have been enhanced even additional if my tester had been outfitted with Audi’s non-compulsory Sport Bundle ($5,900), which incorporates 48-volt energetic roll stabilization, a torque-vectoring rear sport differential and red-painted brake calipers.

Until you actually need these third-row seats, you are higher off leaving ’em folded flat.

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That stated, the Audi’s smaller dimension additionally means it offers up a considerable quantity of third-row seating and baggage house to that very same competitors. The SQ7 faucets out at 69.6 cubic toes of cargo room with its second- and third-row seats folded. That is beneficiant, but it surely’s nonetheless some 15 cubes shy of the GLS and a whopping 21 cubes shy of the X7 — it is virtually just like the SQ7 is a full class-size smaller.

When you needn’t make use of the SQ7’s rather-tight third row incessantly, it will not actually matter. You may nonetheless be lots comfy inside, plus you will be surrounded by a number of the finest, most-powerful in-car tech within the biz. Audi’s newest MMI Contact Response dual-touchscreen infotainment interface is right here in pressure, as is Audi’s second-generation Digital Cockpit digital gauge cluster. This {hardware} takes a bit getting used to, but it surely’s properly configurable and really {powerful}. 

Restricted inside tweaks

The remainder of the inside is not too shabby, both. SQ7-specific touches are fairly minimal, however they embody comfy and supportive sport seats wrapped in quilted Valcona leather-based. In a pleasant growth, with top-flight Status fashions, these seats aren’t simply heated, they’re additionally ventilated (beforehand for those who wished cooling on most efficiency Audi fashions, you needed to revert to less-grippy customary seats). There is a matching perforated-leather three-spoke wheel, although it is let down by the return of Audi’s tab-style paddle shifters. These plasticky-feeling switches have been round for too lengthy. 

On the plus facet, it is value noting that the Status spec additionally contains options like dual-pane acoustic facet glass, soft-close doorways and a driver help package deal with options like adaptive cruise management, traffic-sign recognition, lane-keep help and a head-up show.

Audi’s MMI Contact Response infotainment system and Digital Cockpit gauge cluster are a number of the luxurious section’s finest in-car tech choices.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow
Audi SQ7 pricing

You are most likely questioning what all this tempo and posh prices, however first, a short rationalization is so as. The Matador Crimson SQ7 seen right here is definitely a 2020 mannequin, but it surely’s one in all solely a small variety of examples carrying this mannequin yr designation (blame the coronavirus shutdown’s affect on manufacturing and transport). As such, 2021 fashions are additionally starting to trickle into Audi sellers nationwide, sitting cheek-by-jowl with their 2020 counterparts. No matter mannequin yr, the SQ7 vary begins in Premium Plus guise, basically what can be a mid-rung trim on the usual Q7. The 2020 SQ7 line begins at $85,795 (together with $995 supply), whereas 2021 fashions ring up $200 larger. Step as much as Status trim and earlier than visiting the choices checklist, you are $91,395 for a 2020 or $92,195 for a 2021.

My Status tester contains the aforementioned Matador Crimson metallic paint ($595) in addition to good-looking Carbon Vector inlays ($750) within the cabin. Add in laser headlights ($1,650) and splurge on Audi’s killer Bang & Olufsen 3D audio system ($5,000) and also you get $99,390 as examined. That is clearly a ton of money, but it surely’s additionally greater than aggressive. Benz’s 2020 GLS580 begins at $98,795 delivered and that is earlier than a dizzying array of choices. BMW’s X7 M50i is much more pricey at $100,795 sans choices (together with vacation spot). Consider it or not, not solely are the SQ7’s rivals greater and extra pricey, they each have mannequin ranges that stretch even additional into the stratosphere due to AMG and Alpina.

To be truthful, it would be awfully laborious to name something on this class a “discount,” even when the SQ7 is one thing of a do-it-all, high-performance juggernaut, however for these lucky sufficient to be looking for SUVs on this uncommon air, the 2021 Audi SQ7 is value an extended, laborious look.

With a bevy of choices, this SQ7 prices simply shy of $100,000, which is dear, however really barely extra reasonably priced than most on this class.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

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