We’ve all seen how the cities and the ‘burbs have become over run by SUV’s, as more and more people choose them over passenger cars.
I get the spaciousness and versatility reasons, but why is it that so few owners use them for what they were designed to do, go off road?
Perhaps with the luxury trappings akin to a limousine, most don’t believe they are all that capable.
Audi was keen to bury that urban myth and show me their all-new Q7 Quattro, while letting me find out how well it can master the rough stuff, which is why TVG was invited to the Audi Quattro Snow Driving Experience at Mt Hotham.
I replied ‘yes’ with an equal amount of enthusiasm and trepidation.
You see, I have never driven on snow and although there is no better car than an Audi, with its Quattro permanent all-wheel drive technology to learn in, I was terrified of making a fool of myself in front of my peers or worse still, going off piste and damaging one of Audi’s magnificent new seven-seater Q7 SUV’s.
My concerns were ill founded as Audi’s Quattro system made driving on the white slippery stuff incredibly easy, child’s play in fact. In no time, the sheer off-road brilliance of the Q7 had me driving with confidence and totally enjoying the experience.
Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system is celebrating its 35th birthday this year and when launched, it transformed international motorsport and passenger cars globally. The Quattro technology provides outstanding grip and handling in all conditions and is still the yardstick other carmakers strive to match.
Long before I tried the stupendous Audi Q7, I had a boyhood dream fulfilled when I was offered the co-pilot’s chair for our 40-minute flight from Melbourne to Mt Hotham, courtesy of ExecuJet. Our pilot Max, and the King Air twin turbo prop whisked us away and in no time, Australia’s snowfields loomed large in the windscreen.
Audi’s top gun chief instructor, Steve Pizzati, of TopGear Australia fame greeted us as we broke into two groups, for the short trip to the Audi Quattro Snow Driving experience activities.
The first activity on my agenda was a brake and swerve in, gulp, soft snow.
Not only did Steve and his team demonstrate each activity, his calming manner and detailed explanation of the technologies packed into the Q7, along with what it was going to feel like, had me thinking that perhaps it wasn’t going to be so daunting after all.
I lined up and gently pushed the accelerator and the grip was incredible. Arriving at the cones at 50 km/h, I mashed the brake pedal and flicked the wheel to the left and then to the right. The result was amazing. The anti-lock brakes brought the Q7 to a halt in three or four car lengths and the grip level was so good, if blindfolded, you’d swear you were driving on a lumpy bitumen road.
The Q7 immediately filled me with newfound confidence about snow driving, while showcasing its immensely effective Quattro system.
The next exercise was a slalom set out in a giant ice hockey rink and designed to show the manoeuvrability of the Q7.
I set off with no wheel spin and drove through the first right-hander, then swung left and right again. And while the Q7’s technological wizardry and Quattro system were probably working overtime, from behind the wheel it felt like I was on rails. Through the third gate was where the Q7 really starred, as we were allowed to experience drifting. This activity displayed in a very real way, its velcro like off-road handling prowess. Sliding sideways was a wonderful feeling and as soon as I lifted off the accelerator, the tail came back into line and resumed on its course as though nothing had happened. I did the drifting thing a second time with more power and a longer drift, but once again, it immediately gathered its composure as I eased off the gas. From behind the wheel, I felt in total control.
Sadly, this activity ended way too soon but was followed by a scenic drive on the Dargo High Plains Road, to take in the beauty of the region and put our snow driving skills into practice.
With a new level of confidence and huge respect for the new Q7 Quattro, I headed off. Up and down snow covered hills that would have had me sweating previously, I took in my stride, being mindful to correctly place the car on the road while avoiding hazards like fallen branches, large rocks and potholes.
On the way back to base, I had a quick play with the some of the Q7’s other technologies, like its Adaptive Cruise Control that keeps the Q7 motoring at the same speed and distance as the car in front. When the car in front slows down, so does the Q7, automatically.
We were soon back at base, the day’s driving over. The Q7 had won me over and all I wanted to do was go play with it in the snow and hone my snow driving, thanks to Audi and their team of instructors.
I ended a wonderful day having learnt a new skill and gaining an insight into just how very good the all-new Audi Q7 with its Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system is.
The Audi Q7 has well and truly buried the urban myth about luxury SUV’s not being capable. This one is, incredibly so, and all the while you are being pampered in sumptuous serenity and unbridled luxury.
Audi conducts experience days throughout the year; so if you want to drive one of the world’s finest brands and feel their world leading Quattro technology, enrol in an Audi drive day.
It is an experience, you will never forget.