SUV REVIEW: The
seven-passenger Audi Q7 has the rock solid feeling of a German luxury
car plus Audi is known for making some of the best automotive interiors
on the market today. While it's not quite up to the same standards as
the phenomenal Audi A8 sedan, the Q7 still has one of the nicest cabins
of any luxury SUV.
Germany also has a
reputation for building some of the world's best tanks.
Twice, in fact, Germany
has been banned from building tanks because of the literally anti-social
ways they've put their tanks to use.
Their tanks were so
good that the Germans couldn't be trusted to build them again until the
1970s, by which time half the country was Westernized and the other half
was Communized into economic oblivion. Even then, the Germans began to
design and build what is widely considered one of the best tanks in the
world today, the Leopard 2.
It's no surprise then
that Germany's Audi has decided to build its own tank called the Q7.
This is an SUV you buy
not just for going to the grocery store or shuttling the kids to soccer
practice, any minivan could do that, but to impress your friends and
coddle yourself in something that feels like it should be invading a
member of OPEC.
It's essentially the
same vehicle as the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg, so you know
it's got good bones. Audi stretched it about a foot to squeeze in a
third-row seat, but it still has that all-German feeling of solidity
because it has spiritual roots dating back to the blitzing Panzers. A
luxury tank, I call it.
Yes, it spoils you, as
any expensive, luxed-up SUV should. The version I drove had a huge
panoramic sunroof, a climate control system that lets you individually
adjust both the temperature and blower settings for driver and
passenger, a rear-view camera for backing up, and seats covered in
leather so soft it must have come from young Swedish cows who bathed in
lanolin and got deep-tissue massages every day.
It also has an optional
magic air suspension that can be raised and lowered for different
driving conditions. That means, just by twisting a knob in the cockpit,
different species of pixies take control of the suspension system to
make it more comfortable on the highway, more fun on twisty roads or to
give you more ground clearance for off-road driving. And it has a
command system befitting a four-star general.
Called the Multi Media
Interface, or MMI, this system uses a single knob to control hundreds of
individual settings through an LCD screen. It's how you control the
navigation system, set your suspension preferences, answer a phone call,
change songs on the CD player or adjust virtually any setting imaginable
for a vehicle.
Some people hate the
MMI. They say it's too difficult to do simple things, like change the
radio station. But I love it. Yes, it takes some time to learn how it
works, but once you understand how it operates, the whole system is
Other than all the
gadgets in the cabin, the Q7 is like any other mid-size, seven-passenger
SUV, only with a German twist. Like a good Mercedes, it feels as though
the entire vehicle was machined from a single block of steel on a
computer-controlled lathe. It's so solid, so Teutonic.
And it has a Teutonic
price to match. The loaded, V8-powered version I drove cost nearly
$67,000. You can get a V6 version for cheaper than that, but I can't
recommend buying it because you would be out-accelerated by sea snails
swimming through 33-degree molasses.
That brings us to the
drawbacks of driving a luxury tank. For one, the V8 gets only 12 miles
per gallon in town. For another, the third-row seat is extremely
spacious and comfortable, if your rear end is the size of a thimble and
you have no legs.
But do those complaints
really have merit? Why would anyone complain about leg room, or gas
mileage, as they're invading the Polish border?
What was tested?
The 2008 Audi Q7 4.2 Premium with a base price of $58,600. Options on
the test car: Upgraded paint at $750, air suspension for $2,600, the
technology package for $850, a panoramic sunroof for $1,850, 20-inch
wheels at $800 and the towing package for $550. Total MSRP price as
tested including the $775 destination charge: $66,775.
Why avoid it?
It's expensive, gets awful gas mileage with the V8 engine and has a very
cramped third-row seat.
Why buy it? It
has a solid, Teutonic feel and a wonderful cabin. High-tech amenities
and comfortable seats make it a great luxury SUV.
Driving a luxury tank
is all about power, comfort and image, and the Audi Q7 provides all
those, and in abundance.
By Derek Price ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: SUV Review provided by Tony
Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Audi Home Page
Column Name: Audi builds a luxury tank
Topic: The 2008 Audi Q7 SUV
Word Count: 869
Photo Caption: The Audi Q7
Photo Credits: Audi Q7 Internet Media
Series #: 2008 - 30
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2008 Audi Q7
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2008 Audi Q7