Audi knows a thing or two about making diesel go very, very fast.
After all, their turbo diesel-powered racers have won the famous Le Mans 24-hour race, 13 times from 18 attempts.
So, it comes as no surprise they’ve created the fastest diesel-powered, 7-seat SUV the world has ever seen.
It’s called the Audi SQ7 (SQ stands for Super Quick-or at least it should), and it dispenses never-seen-before desirability and driving enjoyment in an SUV. Not even the excellent SQ5 comes close.
The massive WOW factor is its supercar performance and handling which comes from three never-seen-before technologies.
Firstly, there is an electric compressor, powered by a 48-volt hybrid battery that spins to 75,000 rpm in less than 250 milliseconds to eliminate lag from the two turbochargers.
The SQ7’s cornering ability is genuinely incredible and achieved through its ‘Active Roll Stabilisation’ system that ingeniously twists the front and rear anti-roll bars against each other and when cruising, uncouples to provide a limousine-smooth ride.
At the heart and soul of the Audi SQ7 is its thunderous 4-litre, bi-turbo V8 that belts out a stratospheric 320 kilowatts and 900-newton metres and launches the aluminium bodied SQ7 from zero to 100km/h in a staggering 4.9 seconds and on to a top speed of (governed) 250 km/h.
Completing the mouth-watering $153,616 (+on-road costs) package are a 25mm lower ride height, 20-inch alloys, aluminium-look exterior mirrors strips, a bigger roof spoiler and diffuser, quad rectangular exhausts, LED headlights, dynamic rear turn indicators along with subtle V8T and SQ7 badging, giving the Audi SUV flagship its own distinctive look.
To prove the SQ7’s dynamic credentials, the folk at Audi decided on a drive in the country; over the same roads we flew over in the R8 mid-2016.
The Snowy Mountains Highway has to be one the most scenic and flowing roads in Australia, and as the Sepang Blue SQ7 and I danced our way over Australia’s rooftop, it lapped up every twist and turn with breathtaking ease, providing the perfect match to its sledgehammer power.
Its cornering brilliance and sheer pace had me so astonished; I had to keep looking over my shoulder to remind myself I was piloting a big 7-seat SUV and not a spacious Audi R8.
The steering is perfectly weighted, accurate, silky smooth and with loads of feel. The tsunami of power is accompanied by a baritone bark, that shoves you back in the seat as it races to the redline and slices imperceptibly through its eight gears. On the other side of the ledger, the stopping force of the huge (optional) carbon-ceramic brakes gives you the feeling your face is about to land, on the dash.
Only two other cars spring to mind that delivers such a rewarding and engaging driving experience, and funnily enough, they are also both Audi’s: the R8 and RS6 Avant. All three punch out similar performance numbers too.
I fell in love with the flawless Q7 interior the first time I saw it and the mainly black inside of the Audi SQ7 raise the bar further. It’s luxurious, sumptuous, sporty, roomy and refined. Technologies include the latest infotainment systems, touchpad and apps along with MMI touch Audi Connect, smartphone interface and music interface and a 19 speaker BOSE sound system that is apple car play and Android Auto compatible. The high-res graphic instruments also feature Audi’s excellent Virtual Cockpit with its customizable 12.3-inch display, and there’s also head up display.
The electrically adjusted Valcona leather sports seats are among the best I have ever sat in. Invitingly comfortable and supportive and perfect for pressing on or a long journey. The second-row seats are also extremely comfortable, and the cargo area has oodles of space, even more so with the second-row seat folded, providing a flat load area.
Keeping the stunning performance in check is a suite of driver assist safety technologies and systems including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) up to 85 km/h, Side assist, Lane assist, Rear cross-traffic assist, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Traffic Jam Assist, which is why it gets a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
By any measure, the Audi SQ7 is a brilliant performer and a shining example of top flight automotive engineering, safety and design, that puts it in a class of its own.
For more info on the Audi SQ7 head to Audi.