Today in the snowy region of Mt Hotham, Audi took us on an adventure in their latest car for “soccer mums” – or is it?
Despite it being the beginning of Spring, there is plenty of snow about in this part of the world. Today we got our first taste of their flagship SUV, the Audi Q7. But when we think about it, the Q7 is more often found in school zones rather than off-road. How was this going to go?
Audi were quick to get us in the drivers seat of the new Q7. It is a big unit and that can put certain assumptions into your mind about how it will handle. Our first exercise was on a snow field doing 0-50km/h sprint with a hard stop’n’turn immediately. The Q7 instantly told me that getting the power down in this all wheel drive vehicle on snow is actually very possible and that stopping in an emergency at speed is impressively quick. On the outside watching people do it did look bumpy however the ride on the inside was anything but. Complete luxury in this vehicle.
One of the great features in one of the Q7’s we drove was this amazing dash visual display. All your information on the screen infront of the driver rather than in the centre of the dashboard. The whole screen can be customised and changed as needed however we liked leaving it like this.
We moved onto the “ice-rink” with the Q7 and had an almost Top Gear test track to navigate however we were purposely encouraged to let loose and stability control was set to OFF. We we’re pleasantly surprised how much we were able to throw the Q7 around, move the rear of the car and drift in this open and safe environment. Throwing the snow around was a lot of fun, for a “mums car” – this was starting to feel too fun for mum!
We then got into a convoy and cruised the hills of Mt Hotham. It was our first time here and as a side-note, a really wonderful, picturesque place to visit. The good part about hills is meeting them with an all-wheel drive turbo diesel V6. No effort, just enjoy the view. The Q7 has a variety of modes which adjust the suspension, engine response and other subtleties to adapt to your situation. For most times we enjoyed Dynamic mode but for the next test we needed to use Off-Road. Surely this grocery carrying SUV isn’t meant to touch the dirt?
We made our way through a private road which was in no way modified to suit the cars. Large piles of snow, plenty of mud, hills, ditches etc were all part of this trip. One of the coolest things when the Q7 is put into Off Road mode is seeing the car automatically lift to provide you with extra ride height. The Q7 convoy that we had went from snow kissed to down and dirty in the mud, desperate for a wash. We shouldn’t have been concerned though, the Q7 tackled this track with ease. Something people should be using their SUV for and something most people don’t do. It’s a shame because it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
People looking at SUVs are likely doing so to accommodate their families. The Q7 helps keep them all safe with some great safety features such as adaptive cruise control and lane assist. Adaptive cruise control is a feature we used in the convoy, essentially – the car will maintain the gap to the car in front, slow down when it does, accelerate when it does and generally gives you the feeling that self-driving cars are even closer. The Q7 will also use lane guidance systems to help steer you around corners and ensure you’re driving in-between the lines. Another pair of eyes watching the road for you.
The new Audi Q7 was the biggest vehicle I have driven, it was a huge misconception that big means bulky or “boat like”. Audi has always been a luxury brand in my mind and a vehicle that in any form should be treated nicely and kept clean and never ever taken off road. Off road vehicles aren’t meant to look this good or have an interior more luxurious than a limousine. Audi is certainly out to change minds with the new Q7, we haven’t had enough time with the beast to provide a full review yet – however when it arrives next month you should put it on your list of SUVs to road-test if you’re in the market.