ONCE the obscure, performance diesel seven-seat SUV with gargantuan torque on tap, the Audi SQ7 shifts to petrol for 2022 and, in doing so, gains performance and dynamic chops that feel more sportscar than 2.3-tonne family hauler.
By obscure, we refer to the fact 900Nm twin-turbo diesel V8s aren’t too common, in passenger cars anyway, so much of the outgoing model’s appeal was the bellowing diesel donk and the fact it was so unique.
The move to 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 petrol power makes sense, even before driving the new SQ7, but once behind the wheel the dynamic prowess the new powertrain has unlocked is the real winner.
With the shift to petrol and addition of more tech comes a price bump to $164,100, up $2600 on the outgoing diesel model. Not too bad at a time when inflation threatens to accelerate faster than this SQ7.
On that note, for the extra coin you get more power, with peak outputs of 373kW and 770Nm resulting in a claimed 0-100km/h dash of 4.1 seconds – a not insignificant 0.7 seconds quicker than the diesel.
The only transmission option is the eight-speed torque converter automatic, which seems to be about the magic number of cogs at the moment and works perfectly in this application.
Aside from a lively petrol V8, the new SQ7 gets all the tech the previous model had, plus more, with a very healthy list of standard inclusions.
The SQ7 features rear-biased Quattro permanent all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering and adaptive air suspension, making it equal parts grippy, manoeuvrable and comfortable while still firming up considerably when needed.
In fact, Audi Australia product manager Matthew Dale told GoAuto the air suspension is capable of processing 400 inputs per second from various sensors around the vehicle.
For an extra $10,900, Audi offers a dynamic package with electromechanical active roll stabilisation and an electronically controlled sport differential.
The SQ7 test vehicle we drove didn’t have the dynamic package but its twin-under-the-skin SQ8 sibling did and the rear was noticeably more lively while also tightening the front up more in corners.
Audi did, however, fit the $19,500 ceramic brake package to the SQ7 tester, featuring mammoth 10-piston callipers and 420mm rotors that look pretty snug under the 22-inch wheels.
The handy 3500kg braked towing capacity remains which, alongside the fact the SQ7 has seven seats, makes it a very capable family hauler.
Cargo space is healthy too, with 617 litres behind the second row, 1890 litres from the first row back, and the air suspension actually lets you lower the load height of the rear with the press of a button.
The third-row seating is suitable for children, or petite adults, and having seven seats whittles down the competition for the SQ7; leaving really only the similarly powerful BMW X7 M60. But that’s more than 200 grand on the road and a Mercedes-AMG GLS63 is more than a quarter of a million bucks before on-roads and options.
Visually the SQ7 is as dominant as ever, with a lower stance and ‘S’ body styling elements like front and rear bumpers, grille, air ducts, tailgate spoiler and 22-inch wheels.
Audi’s Matrix LED headlights with ‘laser light’ are pretty advanced kit, featuring a fancy high-beam capable of monitoring oncoming traffic and masking out light.
A panoramic sunroof, privacy glass, heated and folding side mirrors, and soft closing doors round out the exterior of the new SQ7. The soft closing doors are more of a ‘nice to have’, allowing you to gently latch the door and the car will properly close them for you.
The interior features plenty of ‘S’ badging, and Valcona leather upholstery with diamond patterned stitching. It’s premium in every way, with a diverse mix of colours and finishes, and absolutely nothing feels cheap.
The seats are also a winner with four-way lumbar support, electric adjustability, heating, and comfortable yet sporty bolstering. If seated in a sporty driving position, the legroom is a bit cramped, which is the only complaint. Your correspondent is not a particularly big guy, but it still felt a bit tight.
Two touchscreens with haptic feedback take care of in-car entertainment and functionality, the top 10.1-inch screen for infotainment, while the bottom 8.6-inch screen handles climate and vehicle control.
The infotainment system features standard smartphone integration, wireless or cabled, as well as Audi connect plus, and a 17 speaker Bang & Olufsen 3D sound system is about as good as it gets for audiophiles. We can’t forget Audi’s signature SOS e-call in the centre of the roof console, which is exactly what it sounds like—an emergency distress function.
A 12.3-inch virtual cockpit offers performance or standard modes, with all the information you could want. It’s particularly good in performance mode.
On the safety front, it’s no surprise that Audi fits the gamut of its crash-avoidance tech to the SQ7, like pre-sense front and rear, active lane assist, side and cross traffic assist, and 360-degree cameras with kerb view.