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The Williams'....Test Drive The Audi Q7

AUDI Q7…. AN OUTSTANDING 4WD

Built for luxury family travelling and four wheel driving the Q7 is Audi’s foray into the competitive SUV market.
Q7’s superior performance and classy good looks makes this one of the most attractive packages we have seen in what can often be a very ugly class of vehicles.

We decided on a trip to the coast and thought we’d take our test vehicle to the old seaside town of Queenscliff Victoria and then on the vehicle ferry across Port Phillip Bay to Sorrento.

On a fine sunny morning we headed out of Melbourne over the West Gate Bridge and onto the Geelong Freeway.
While the Q7 is a big recreational vehicle it gives you the feeling of (and handles like) a normal car with a real sporty feel even down to the leather steering wheel. Amazingly there is no gross body roll when cornering, or when entering roundabouts

We punted it into a large roundabout just out of the CBD and the Q7 just dug in and drove round like a sports car which is quite amazing given its size.

Audi is a class act when it comes to interior design and this is no more typified than by the location and feel of the chunky gear selector allowing you to effortlessly change from auto to manual or sport mode. Our test car was the 3 litre V6 turbo diesel driving a 6 speed tiptronic transmission. The transmission has what Audi calls DSP (‘Dynamic Shift Program') which adapts to suit the driver's style and adapts to changing road conditions. Gear changes can be made with the lever or, in our car, via paddles on the steering wheel - we had the optional (A$0.5k) multifunction leather covered 3-spoke steering wheel.

Creature comforts are many and varied - the Q7 is built for first class family travel with stacks of adjustable drink holders plus bins for keys, wallets, snacks, rubbish and sunglasses. There are netted pockets for maps and books - there's a place for everything! Another smart touch is the double sun visors, allowing you to shade the sun from the windscreen and the side windows simultaneously - a must when travelling in the late afternoon sun. Our test car came with the optional (A$4.4k) open sky sunroof system (which stretches 1.7m from front to rear) so the cabin felt light and airy with views for front and rear passengers (including those in the third row, if we'd had the six or seven seat option). Comfortable leather seats and a great sound system with 6-disc CD changer complete the onboard creature features. The sound system is integrated into the Audi MMI (Multi Media Interface) control system. Unlike some of its competitors, we found the MMI system simply intuitive.

The Q7 parking sensor package includes a rear facing camera for a perfect view behind when backing, complete with lines and shading to show precisely where you're headed. All this shows up on the 7" in-dash screen. The front parking sensors produce an audible alarm with a visual representation showing the distance of objects from each sensor. This system is an outstanding safety feature and should be standard equipment on all vehicles.

Front driver/passenger air bags and side curtain airbags are of course standard. Headlights and Wipers can be operated automatically by the Light and Rain Sensors built in to the auto dipping rear view mirror. This sensor system will also light your path when leaving or approaching the car.

Luggage storage for a travelling family is important and the Q7 does not disappoint in this area. The Q7's rear door opens effortlessly to reveal a large storage area with a multi adjustable aluminium luggage rack which slides on a track up against your luggage to stop any movement during travel. The rear storage compartment comes complete with privacy cover to stop any prying eyes.

Our Q7 also had the optional (A$5.5k) ‘S‘ Line body kit which makes it look a lot lower and meaner. The ‘S’ Line has an all black grille and has the normally contrasting lower panels painted in the primary colour. The kit is good value as it includes 20" 5 double-spoke shadow grey alloy wheels, which if taken by themselves as an option cost A$5.4k.

On the freeway heading towards Geelong the Q7 gave us effortless comfortable travelling with good visibility all round. It has positively huge side mirrors which give an excellent view of what's happening around you.

Our test car was also fitted with Audi‘s new ‘Side Assist' system which warns of other vehicles in the traditional ‘blind-spot’. Yellow LEDs in the exterior mirror housing permanently illuminate if another vehicle is in the ‘critical zone' or is approaching fast from the rear. The LEDs are only noticeable when you look in the mirror. If, while the system is in this state, you indicate to change lanes, the LEDs brighten and start flashing. The system is controlled by two radar sensors in the rear bumper and has a 50 metre range.

Any bumps in the road are cushioned gently without that dreadful bouncing or rolling motion that many four wheel drives are prone to. One feels in control instead of simply being just a passenger. Our test car had the standard, but nevertheless sophisticated, Q7 suspension. There is an optional adaptive air suspension (A$5.75k) which we hope to test in the near future.

Time did not permit us to take the Q7 off-road but we have spoken to a number of people who participated in test drives through a rugged 4 wheel drive test track in Queensland during the Q7 launch. They were able to compare the Q7's performance against the leading luxury brands such as BMW X5, Mercedes ML350, Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg in rugged, rocky 4WD climbs and difficult water and mud situations. They were sold on the Q7 as it easily outperformed all rivals.

Exceptional safety features,handling characteristics and luxury creature comforts make the Q7 an outstanding all terrain vehicle.

Audi Q7 courtesy of Audi Centre Doncaster, Victoria

Road Test
Yvonne & David Williams
Click on http://www.wheeldestinations.com/