Road test: What Audi's Q7 lacks in speed, it makes up for in serene space

The German manufacturer's fulsome and flash SUV can handle a range of terrains in comfort

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The concept of a big, luxury SUV that can fit seven people is no stranger to the UAE or, indeed, the wider world. Even someone not interested in cars could name a few of these types of vehicles, particularly if sand is the default surface of their surroundings. No surprise, then, that Audi thought it a good idea to knock up a couple of options for those interested in this very form of charabanc.

The Q7, which first launched about 15 years ago, is one of these, and you certainly won’t feel claustrophobic should you climb inside its fulsome interior. Plenty of leg, head and general wriggle room in the cabin and, if you don’t need to lug seven passengers about, more than enough space for the weekly shop, a couple of blow-up canoes and a suitcase or two at the same time.

This 2020 version has had a series of styling tweaks from the previous generation, such as a rejigged front grille, smoothed-down bumpers (both front and rear) and two-tone paintwork as standard.

By virtue of deduction, then, you'll have rightly surmised this isn't a heads-down-and-charge type of vehicle, so prospective purchasers may not want to be taking it to Yas' drag-racing strip. It's designed to ferry you around in extreme comfort, while keeping you safe from the outside world. And it does that nicely, if that isn't damning a perfectly respectable set of wheels with faint praise.

When you get behind the wheel, your surroundings invoke distinct feelings of serenity, making what’s happening outside seem irrelevant. And plenty of us could use some of that, particularly in these stressful times.

As we’ve ascertained, the Q7 doesn’t have the mad power and acceleration of the speediest of its rivals, but it’s a good deal more comfortable than many of them and not lacking in grunt when you need to get a shunt on. Particularly in the model being tested here, which is the 55 TFSI quattro.

The engine is a turbocharged 3-litre V6 mild hybrid, and its clever little management system chooses the optimum operating strategy for a long or short jaunt, up hill or down dale. Being all-wheel-drive, the Q7 is also perfectly capable of going off-road, should the tarmac run out. You can get from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in around 6.1 seconds, if you’re still on the hard stuff.

In the Q7 range as a whole, there are three mild-hybrid engines available, which comprise two diesel and one petrol option.

The gadgetry inside the cabin is decent, with twin touchscreens which, along with the satnav and entertainment options, will show views of the outside world from almost every angle. Button-wise, everything is electrically operated right down to the opening and closing of the tailgate. There are lots of places to stash bits and bobs and getting the seats configured is a simple process.

The Q7, then, is almost van-like in what it can hold. Considerably more fun to drive, though, and that flash interior will keep you feeling rather more cosseted that your average flatbed truck, that’s for sure.

Car supplied by Audi Abu Dhabi