In one of the world’s most inhospitable environments, participants of the Audi Driving Experience indulged in the pinnacle of comfort and luxury behind the wheel of the all-new Q7 sport-utility vehicle (SUV).
Whereas most SUVs would get bogged down on Dubai’s unforgiving sands, the all-new Q7 demonstrated exceptional mobility, with cutting-edge technology at work to keep progress unhindered, safe and utterly enjoyable. The Q7 has evolved remarkably since its previous iterations, despite already setting the bar high in the premium, full-size luxury SUV segment. The old model was a smooth runner, possessing a plush but wallowy ride that made it drive like a land yacht.
A midlife update gave it improved dynamics that provided a more connected driving feel. Though a good number of Q7 owners would probably be chauffeured around in it, those who get behind the wheel will not feel shortchanged. Indeed, the all-new Q7 is about building an exceptional balance between opulent luxury and class-leading performance.
The latter comes from, as Fast Times reported during the Q7’s Philippine launch in December 2015, a 3.0-liter, 24-valve, common-rail-direct-injection TDI V6 turbodiesel, producing 272 horsepower and 600 Newton-meters of torque. Audi Philippines General Sales Manager Paolo Brambilla told Fast Times the turbocharged, 3.0-liter, twin-cam, 24-valve TFSI V6 engine is expected to come out within the first quarter of 2016.
Both engines are mated to a smooth-shifting, eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system. The current TDI range starts at P6.690 million for the Premium, while the sport-oriented S-Line model starts at P7.300 million.
Proving its mettle
Gleaming under the Middle Eastern sun, the Q7s surrounded the fountain pool of the exquisite Palace Downtown Dubai. A throng of VIPs were grouped and assigned to their respective rides, with only a few motoring-media contingents joining the event. The vehicles drove spiritedly through Dubai’s sand-flanked main highways, with dunes as far as the eye could see.
A few kilometers later, the convoy veered off the perfectly paved roads to enter a complex that was quite posh for something found in the middle of nowhere. There, drivers took the Q7s on a veritable obstacle course to get a feel for the SUV’s latest features.
A stage with alternating ramps proved no obstacle for the Q7, despite teetering on three wheels at a time. Then, what seemed like a giant seesaw demonstrated the vehicle’s well-designed approach and departure angles when it overcame the stage effortlessly.
Faith in the Q7’s active-safety and performance-enhancing systems was put to the test when the participants were made to climb and then descend an artificial hill without using the brakes, leaving its advanced hill-descent feature to easily and safely bring the vehicle down. But the test that everyone was looking forward to was the lively romp through the sand dunes.
With a click of the dial to change the drive mode, the Q7 raised its ride height in a few seconds. From there, it plowed through the sand with nary a grunt from its engine and with no sensation of being encumbered by the grainy surface. In fact, its performance on the dunes was just scratching the surface of what the Q7 is really capable of.
The traction that its quattro system provided was quite tangible, as the large convoy easily maintained a brisk pace through the sand. All the while, passengers sat in superb comfort in one of the best-designed interiors anyone could ever wish for. The Audi Virtual Cockpit was both ergonomically exceptional and aesthetically pleasing, with the user interface was delightfully intuitive.
Listening to your favorite playlist streamed via Bluetooth through the optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system was definitely a highlight. Certainly, the serene luxury of the Q7’s seven-seater cabin totally contrasted its agile and athletic driving abilities.
When it becomes easy to pile on the superlatives when describing an automobile, you know the brand behind it has achieved what it has passionately set out to do. Without a doubt, Audi has topped itself with its latest flagship model and has, as a result, created a new benchmark in its class.
When the fusion of superior luxury and exceptional performance is seamless, perfection is not far behind and the all-new Audi Q7 is definitely on that path.