Audi Q7 e-tron Test Drive Review

FEB 17 2018 BY ALEX GOY 29

In the olden days, buying a green car sometimes meant compromises. Flash forward to today and you’ll see that the Q7 e-tron delivers on the green without compromise.

It took Audi an inordinately long time to bring a big SUV into the world, especially considering it kinda owned the whole ‘four-wheel drive’ thing for regular cars. When it did the result was a bit ugly, all told, but it was a solid car. The second generation Q7 is far more angular, striking, and good looking. And better to drive.

*Editor’s Note: This review comes to us via our UK Motor1 partner site. The Audi Q7 e-tron is not currently sold in the U.S.

Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro

You can get a Q7 in all sorts of flavors as well – petrol, diesel, fast, slow; you name it. There’s a plug-in hybrid one, too. It’s called the e-tron, and it’s about as plush as you can get for an eco car. It’s also the only diesel option in the plug-in hybrid SUV set; the rest, like the Volvo XC90 T8 and forthcoming Range Rover P400e hybrid, are petrol and electric.

First impressions

A grey leather interior does little to rouse the soul, and our test car was covered in acres of the stuff. Luckily, it was wrapped around an Audi interior so it wasn’t in any way, shape, or form ugly. Audi’s interiors are always measured affairs – where Mercedes’ efforts can look a bit like an overdesigned kitchen and BMW’s are smart and functional, Audi’s aren’t overly obtrusive. They’re just… pretty. The Q7’s cabin isn’t over encumbered with buttons, with plenty of heavy lifting done by the car’s MMI infotainment controlling dial and the rest being controlled by subtly placed banks of physical switches (something that’s becoming a rarity these days). For perceived interior fit-and-finish, and ease of use, the Q7 is top of the pile at the moment.

There are two screens providing you with information; an easily readable unit on the centre console deals with music, phone and nav, while Audi’s Virtual Cockpit – the fully digital display in the driver’s cockpit – shows speed, nav, trip computer info… anything a driver would feasibly need. They’re easy, intuitive and won’t cause you to drop f-bombs all over the show.

When it comes to storage there’s masses of space in the boot, with 650-litres with the seats up and 1835 with them down, but critically in the e-tron you don’t get the sixth and seventh seats hidden in the boot floor, as you do with the rest of the Q7 range. There are batteries under there instead, so this is strictly a five-seat SUV only. Plus, it’s a pain that there’s nowhere neat to stow the charging cable, which is just a chunky case strapped to the side of the boot space.

Audi Q7 e-tron quattro

Rear passengers will find plenty of room to sit comfortably as will those up front, and there’s loads of space around the cabin to put things like wallets, keys, and phones in the centre console and deep door bins. The Q7 may be over five metres long, and seat only five (unlike the XC90 T8, which gets seven seats), but it is seriously spacious.

How does it drive?

Remember its size? You won’t forget it after trying to navigate anything remotely small. This is a tank that feels its size on the UK’s narrow side streets and tight car parks. That said, slow manoeuvres are where you notice the e-tron’s party piece: its electric drivetrain. On start up there’s an eerie silence to accompany the various screens lighting up the cockpit. You expect a gentle diesel thrum, but the rev counter remains at zero. Gently prodding the throttle sees you glide silently along. It’s smooth, quiet, and wonderfully dissonant for a giant SUV. You can drive, officially, up to 35 miles (NEDC) without bothering the diesel motor assuming you’ve a full battery on board. That’s less than most commutes, which means if you’re diligent with your charging you needn’t use any fuel at all other than on longer journeys.

Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro

Official government figures suggest that the e-tron is capable of 157 mpg and 48g/km are possible. Let’s just accept that those figures are mostly fantasy. The e-tron is a heavy car weighing in at nearly two and a half tonnes, a fair chunk of which is the electric powertrain bits. The rest is pure Q7. However, its diesel/EV set up is good for 369bhp and 516lb ft, enough to punt it from 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds and on to 143mph. Its weight, however, hides the performance. For something with so much torque you’d expect it to pull hard and push you back in your seat. It doesn’t all that much, though the car does pitch upwards under heavy load thanks to its hefty weight being transferred.

There are a few driving modes to play with – the usual stuff is all present and correct – but the car’s Eco mode is the one worth sticking with. It doesn’t numb the car in any huge way, and makes the most of the car’s complicated drivetrain.

A sports car it is not, so hurling it into corners isn’t advised as the lean will be mildly perturbing, but it’s a giggle to pop your boot down every now and then. For the most part, though, you’ll be perfectly happy to cruise around in the Q7’s wonderfully quiet cabin.

Your eco power is delivered via an eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s as silent and smooth as you like, so there’s no need to worry about jerky gear changes. Its brakes can be a bit grabby at low speeds while the car decides whether it’s using them only to stop the car rather than siphon some electricity off them, but otherwise they’re smooth and progressive – though under heavy braking you feel the Q7’s heft rather keenly. Our test car rode smoothly, taking in nasty lumps and bumps in its stride.

Should I buy one?

Going green is in, as it should be, and with the Q7 e-tron you can do so without losing any actual car usefulness in the process. It’s quick enough for most, it’s comfortable, spacious, and quiet, it looks pretty fine on the road, and it’s competitive on price with the Volvo.

It will also be usefully more economical with its diesel engine running than the Volvo XC90 T8 or any of the petrol plug-in hybrid rivals will be when the battery charge is out, so if you you’re going to regularly do bigger journeys in your plug-in hybrid and don’t want to be looking at a very un-green 20-something mpg economy when you do, the Audi is the best bet. Provided you don’t want seven seats, of course.

Categories: Audi, Test Drives

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

29 Comments on "Audi Q7 e-tron Test Drive Review"

newest oldest most voted

always lykd da idea of a plug in dzl/hybrd,
need thou approx 90 mile tru ev range. so for rt now its a kia soul ev whch is my daily drvr. my kia soul ice is my long distance car. WISH BOTH COULD BE ONE UNIT.
da volt ma work but the low rate ev charge is moronic. i hate paying two insurance policys, HATE IT

John please learn to spell. HATE IT

OMG…why not comment on the topic no one is writing an essay for a grade, was there a response to the ARTICLE? There’s one of you on every blog – lighten up. Our “President” can’t spell or speak…duhhh

I’m laughing my ass off Jan ??????????? I had to share it.

hang on
So they take the dirtiest, foulest smelling propulsion system know to man (a VW/Audi diesel) and call it green by sticking an electric motor in it with a 35 mile range.
They aren’t selling it in the US because nobody is believes them the their diesel engines are clean in any way.

Trump/Pruitt(EPA) is doing worse. Inside this study, is the conclusion truck “gliders” are being fitted with old junk engines bad enough to produce “13X” the NOx, that the TDIs would have emitted had they stayed on the road.

It’s from the same ICCT that contracted WVU to take a closer look at VW!

At the end of the day, these people need to ask themselves if nitrogen oxides are a pollutant? VW doesn’t think so. Pruitt, the guy over at the “Protection” agency, doesn’t. Just those “science” and “health” people. What say should they have?

Interesting article. The particles are a bigger health concern (PM 2.5). Trump and Pruitt are a friggin disaster.

Dumb Presidents shake up government by doing really stupid things! Shock.

Particles are reduced a lot in the latest Euro class with a urea system.
New gasoline engines, with direct injection are terrible when it comes to particles. Most of them have to be fitted with a filter system til, starting this year.

The sooner we can all drive proper EVs the better.

No, they took the most advanced and most efficient engine with the lowest co2 emissions per mile and still lower nox emissions than an modern petrol engine.

If it stinks like a diesel, it’s a diesel.

You are a simple minded zealot!

Diesels are only marginally better than gas, at CO2. Where it might reach 40mpg, gas reaches 30, and does 75% as good.

Neither touches natural gas, and 30mpg is no better than an EV finding that mythic all-coal electric mix.

Those 35mi of electric range are according to NEDC (which should no longer be used in Europe, by the way. As of 5 months ago WLTP is the relevant test).
EPA-equivalent range would be ~25mi .

And I would bet that 25 miles would be optimistic. “UP TO 35 miles (NEDC)”

The article reads like an ad for clean diesel – I thought we learned our lesson! About as inappropriate as it gets.

Alex Goy,

So long as comments are allowed on this site, and no longer Motor1, you are going to get sensible questions about PHEVs, such as “How many KWh of battery does it have?”

The Panamera E hybrid is supposedly selling well, at ~14KWh. Last I knew the Q7 PHEV was to have 16-18? People want to see these baby steps, and lots are buying where there’s more inside. As Tesla’s pricing clearly shows, kilowatt hours are what people will pay for.

Too bad this won’t be available in the U.S.

Needed something larger than a Volt, with an EV range of at least 30 miles for the daily commute. With a enough gas range (500miles+) to get out of Florida during another hurricane evac without having to stop and do the fuel ups.

Won’t buy the Chrysler Pacifica because of the company’s history of poor customer/product support.

Kia/Hyundai Optima/Sonata PHEVs? Their biggest weakness is the heat always uses gas, but in Florida you don’t care about that.

(In Pennsylvania that makes them nonstarters for me.)

Honda clarity

Thought Audi was coming out with a pure EV e-tron this year?

Yes, at the end of this year.
My money is on December.

With the Outlander PHEV you can see that some effort has made to make it into something useful. on the Q7, the BEV parts are much more of a gimmick, not to mention afterthought.

In what possible sense is this vehicle ‘green’?

It’s the size of a small truck, still uses fossil fuel to do the vast majority of its miles (don’t you all know that PIHs simply never get plugged in?) and, as your graphic amply demonstrates, will spend most of its stinky life with precisely one person in it.

This might be a good vehicl for my wife who rarely drives more than 30 miles in a given day. Right now she drives a Ford Edge which is all gas. I am anxiously awaiting the Model Y to compliment my Model 3

Does she refuse to drive an EV? Does she only want to drive SUV/CUVs? If she drives only 30 miles a day she is a perfect candidate for something like a BMW i3 or i3s. Sits higher like and CUV but is quicker and more fun to drive than her Edge.

Or if you have the budget to buy the Q7 e-tron at $70,000 then she could get a base model Telsa X75D for a couple of thousand more.

Another Euro point of view

The way I understand it is that most recent VW group tdi engines are fitted with ad blue tanks (as opposed to the NOx scandal engines which had not). This should (hopefully) keep Nox emission still too much as per an environment but at least no more than other modern engines on the roads now. As for the CO2 emissions, tdi engines have always been among the best by far.

Wait, so this article would like us to park a stink bomb Diesel in our Garages and get that stink smell in Our Homes?

You can slap a “luxury” brand label on it, that doesn’t turn a pig into a prince.

Despite the Euro troll who is so proud of his diesel car, it is apparent to almost everyone that the Europeans really bet on the wrong horse by going all-in on diesel.

This bet allowed the Japanese, Americans and Koreans to develop hybrid and now PEV vehicles and now the Euro OEMs are behind the curve.