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2016 AUDI Q7

By Mark Stevenson

Even with all the powertrain technology in the world – from direct injection to hybridization – you can’t trump physics. If an object has more mass, it takes more energy to move said object. Cut the mass and you’ll slash the amount of effort required to get said object from point A to point B.

It’s with this focus on weight savings that Audi introduces us to the second-generation Q7 full-size SUV. Engineers have somehow lopped 325 kg (716.5 lbs) of weight off the biggest of Audi utilities. But, the German engineers didn’t stop there…

The current Audi Q7 is a formidable-looking utility. It’s an imposing brute with a big grille and equally big body. The new model, on the other hand, has learned a lesson – that biggest isn’t always best – and if you have available to you the brightest minds in the business, you can be the best by being cunning.

The current Audi Q7 is a formidable-looking utility. It’s an imposing brute with a big grille and equally big body. The new model, on the other hand, has learned a lesson – that biggest isn’t always best.

In almost every measurable exterior aspect the Q7 is a smaller utility than its predecessor. It’s shrunken, now just 1.74 meters (5.7 ft.) in height, and narrowed, sporting a width of just 1.97 meters (6.5 ft.). This downsizing works to Audi’s benefit, achieving a quite astounding 0.32 cd (drag coefficient). To put that in perspective, the Volkswagen Touareg has a cd of 0.37. Even with this exterior shrink-ray treatment, the Q7 manages to increase interior space for passengers and cargo while reducing overall body length and wheelbase.

Inside, the Q7 is given the latest in Audi MMI and Audi Virtual Cockpit features. Some may boo as the next-generation Q7 offers up less buttons on the centre console. However, Audi says the now-haptic MMI is more intuitive, providing a user-friendly infotainment experience. And, if you decide to forego the screen, a new natural speech control system can react to voice commands, such as “I want to listen to my iPod.”

The virtual cockpit, debuting on the new Audi TT, runs on a 12.3-inch TFT display and provides multiple views – such as traditional dials to custom pre-sets with maps and vehicle information – creating a driving experience specifically tailored for the driver.

Those in the back won’t be left out in the non-tech cold either, as Audi will offer the Q7 with one (and optionally two) 10-inch tablets that act as monitors for rear seat passengers. Just like the virtual cockpit, the tablet will be powered by NVIDIA hardware for the best viewing experience possible.

Bang & Olufsen will continue to blast their theatre-quality tunes in the Q7. A new 3D sound system adds speakers to the A-pillars to “provide the spatial dimension of height so that the music appears to be coming from a large virtual stage.” That stage also pumps out 1,920 watts of amplified awesomeness.

It isn’t just the audio that’s cranked up to 11. Under the hood will sit a range of engines all delivering improved fuel economy (26 percent improvement on average). Also, a first for Audi, a new plug-in diesel hybrid will join the Q7 range.

Competitors:

Cadillac Escalade

Infiniti QX80

Land Rover Range Rover

Lexus LX

Lincoln Navigator

Mercedes-Benz GL-Class

On the traditional propulsion front, the Q7 will be available with a 3.0L TDI V6 with 272 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque, and a 3.0L TFSI V6 producing 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. A 2.0L TFSI will likely be available later; it rings in at 218 hp and 273 lb-ft. An ‘efficiently-tuned’ 3.0L TDI with 218 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque has also been announced but likely won’t be available in Canada.

The new plug-in diesel hybrid Q7 e-tron offers up similarly impressive numbers: 373 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque of combined system output. While the new model with Quattro all-wheel drive achieves stellar fuel economy, at 1.7L/100km on the NEDC, it will also accelerate to 100 km/h in 6.0 seconds. Oh, and it will drive along without burning any fuel for a distances of up to 56 km.