SOMETIMES the writing is on the wall, at other times it’s right there on the dash in front of you. The beginning of the end for our longterm Audi Q7 came via a message displayed in its handsomely rendered virtual cockpit: “Add at least 6L of Adblue.”
The prompt to add a drum of the ureabased liquid to the turbo-diesel’s auxiliary tank was a sure sign that the end was nigh; the Q7’s 15000km service mark was fastapproaching and, with that, retirement from the Bulmer household.
The kids took the news hard, grumpily collecting the crayons, dolls heads and other detritus of a half-year’s ownership, and grumbling about whether they’d ever again find a Wi-Fi-enabled car with internet connectivity that can stream their favourite shows to rear seat smart tablets.
“Probably not, but harden up you little beggars and scrub that carpet!” I thought to myself while cooing gently in their ears that it would all be okay and daddy would make it better by buying them a new iPad.
Mrs. Bulmer was also bereft. Despite having complained from time to time about the Audi’s bulk while threading the needle of abandoned shopping trollies and wild-eyed grannies in dinged Nissan Tiidas, she knows a good thing when she drives one.
And the Q7 is certainly a very good thing, indeed. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s as close as we’ve come to finding automotive utopia in modern family guise.
Like many modern diesels the Q7 relies on Adblue to help reduce its exhaust emissions and meet Euro 6 standards.
The high-purity urea solution is added to a separate tank alongside the fuel filler and is continuously sprayed into the exhaust, upstream of the Selective Catalytic Reduction system (SCR). The additive helps convert diesel exhaust gases and their harmful NOx, or oxides of nitrogen emissions, into harmless gas and water vapour.
The latter is a world where 0-100km/h splits and ‘tendency to understeer at the limit’ take a distant back-seat to mundane considerations like cargo space, seating flexibility and ride comfort.
Space, for instance, is a big deal for families such as ours and any lack thereof can be a real deal-breaker. Here, the Q7’s standard 295-litre boot with three rows in place is okay, but flicking the switch to fold the electrically operated third-row liberates a whopping 770-litre usable space.
The detachable cargo net, which we deployed often when we travelled, provides peace of mind by safely separating luggage from passengers. Other neat touches include the Q7’s auto tailgate function, with its trick of opening when you wave your foot under the bumper; and the ability to automatically lower the air-sprung wagon’s ride height by 45mm when loading or unloading.
The above would be enough to earn the Q7 a handful of gold stars alone, but Audi has also endowed its family SUV with great dynamics, an excellent drivetrain, and superb refinement.
A responsive and free-spinning 200kW 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 mates seamlessly to a fluid-shifting eight-speed auto, creating a drivetrain that’s among the smoothest and most responsive in this category.
Disciplined handling matches the fluidity of the drivetrain, marking the Q7 as an aboveaverage SUV to drive enthusiastically. Our test car’s optional adaptive air suspension and continuously variable electronic damping ($4690) played a major part here.
As for the inevitable downsides, the Q7’s circa $105k list price will present a formidable barrier for some, but measured against luxury SUV segment rivals like the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE, the Audi is absolutely competitive. Certainly my wife had few complaints (about the car at least), and that’s as good as winning COTY in my experience.
Roomy, well built, luxuriously appointed, and superbly refined, the Audi Q7 delivers a superb blend of prestige, pragmatism and performance that we’re really going to miss, right kids?
After the automotive utopia delivered by the brilliant Q7, the question is: what next to fill this 5m hole for the Bulmer clan?
Over the course of 12,555km and some 14 refuels, the Q7 consumed a total of 1319L of diesel for an overall average of 10.5L/100km. Its best of 7.8L/100km was on a Sydney-Melbourne run down the Hume. Its worst, in stop-start urban traffic, climbed to 11.8L/100km.
As for servicing, those costs are always higher with luxury vehicles and Audi advises that the 15,000km fettling the Q7 is due to cop upon return should run to around $600, but owners will no doubt be up for more than that at the 30,000km major service.
Date acquired: January 2017 Price as tested: $125,545 This month: 2357km @ 10.5L/100km Overall: 12,555km @ 10.5L/100km