Audi Q7 45 TFSI Quattro S impresses in driving performance, comfort, convenience and SOLID, GERMAN-MADE quality.
German luxury carmaker Audi is hoping to break into the Thai auto market once again with a new importer and distributor, Mester Technik Co Ltd.
The company is owned by finance tycoon Krisda Lumsum, who has a soft spot for Audis, having owned his first four-ring model during his college years in the US.
A large collection of Audi models are now on sale at Meister Technik, which took part in the recent Bangkok International Motor Show for the first time and notched up pretty good sales. The Audi booth was filled with interested customers throughout the show.
Audi does not assemble vehicles in Thailand like its rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz and that drives up retail prices due to high import duty. However, Audi AG is providing strong financial support in order to keep prices competitive.
A good example is the made-in-Germany Audi Q7 45 TFSI Quattro S line. It carries a pricetag of Bt4.99 million, which is in the same neighbourhood as the locally-assembled hybrid crossovers such as the BMW X5 xDrive 40e M Sport (Bt4.699 million) and Mercedes-Benz GLE 500 e 4MATIC AMG Dynamic (Bt4.99 million). Another worthy competitor is the Malaysian-made Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Momentum (Bt4.49 million and also a hybrid) that is imported with duty-free privileges.
I picked up the Q7 from Meister Technik’s showroom on New Phetchaburi road, which has been renovated from an old facility with Audi touches.
The Q7 is a full-sized crossover and would definitely benefit from a hybrid powertrain like its rivals. According to Mesiter Technik, it wants to offer the Q7 e-tron in Thailand, and is waiting for approval, which takes time due to various checks that need to be made before launching a hybrid model, including the country’s electricity system as well as maintenance capability.
The Q7 shared the basic platform with the Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne and even the Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus. But the model offered in Thailand has been extended (like a long wheelbase model), and offers significant increase in interior space. The Q7 is over 5 metres long and 2 metres wide, while the wheelbase is almost 3 metres. These can also be figures for a small yacht.
Like all Audi models, the front end is accentuated by the large grille, which is flanked by serious-looking LED headlights. The side profile is rather plain, except for the blown up fenders and “S line” skirt, and the rear end is pretty neat too. In total, it’s smart looking and clean-cut, but doesn’t attract much attention.
Step inside and there is plenty of space, particularly for the rear passengers. There are 5 seats (Meister Technik decided not to offer the 7-seat version since nobody uses the third row) and a generous luggage compartment. The front seats are great, providing good back support and there is good headroom both front and rear (rear legroom is good too). Fold the rear seat backrests and there’s enough space for you to haul a baby elephant along.
Audi has long been regarded for making great interiors and the Q7 is prime example of great fit and finish. The plastics are of high quality and the aluminium trim looks and feels great. Assembly quality is top-notch – everything fits in perfectly.
The steering wheel houses numerous controls of different types that you need to press or scroll (took me some time to find the volume adjustment), and there are convenient gearshift paddles as well in case you want to go manual.
Unfortunately the Thai-bound Q7 doesn’t get the latest “Virtual Cockpit” (perhaps in the e-tron?) and have to do with the normal analog meters. Nevertheless, there are enough gimmicks to impress, such as the 7-inch colour screen that is normally concealed and pops up from the top of the console when you fire up the engine. The infotainment system is easy to use and connect, with the Bose sound system providing high-end sound quality.
What you will like is the interior lighting. There are just 3 colors to choose from (white, red, blue), but they do give the cabin great atmosphere at night.
The Q7 45 TFSI gets its power from a supercharged V6 engine that pumps out a healthy 333 horsepower and 440Nm, which is enough to get the 2-tonne crossover moving quickly. The 8-speed automatic shifts with high levels of silkiness -- the short gearshift lever also looks real good and is easy to use.
I drove the Q7 mostly in Auto mode, and the ride was highly comfortable at all speeds. The secret is the adaptive air suspension that irons out road vibration that gets through the 21-inch wheels and low-profile tyres to the front and rear multi-link suspension. Ride is smooth all the way, and everybody is happy.
But for entertainment, you can adjust the Audi Drive Select button on the console and things start to change. While the Adaptive Air Suspension package allows you to select 5 different ride heights, the Audi Drive Select lets you adjust the suspension, engine and transmission with Comfort, Auto, Dynamic, Allroad, Off-Road and Individual modes.
Acceleration from 0-100km/h takes 6.1 seconds, and it can actually reach a top speed of 250km/h just like a sportscar.
Fuel consumption should be heavy for a heavy vehicle, but Audi claims an average of about 8 litres/100km (12.5km/litre) which is possible if you maintain a constant cruising speed on the highway, while CO2 emission is claimed at 183g/km.
Another thing you will like about the Q7 is that despite its bulky size, it isn’t tiresome to drive. Cornering is actually pretty sharp for its mammoth size and you can even enjoy winding roads with this huge crossover. With the quattro all-wheel-drive system sorting things out real-time, you tend to get the best driving performance out the Q7 at all times.
Stopping performance is also good, with Audi providing sensitive pedals giving strong initial bite, making it easy to judge the heavy wagon in tight traffic.
There are plenty of standard features, including 4-zone automatic climate control, powered rear tailgate, lots of airbags, powered front seats with memory, comfort key (smart entry), cruise control, etc.
Just considering that it is imported but sold at locally-assembled price is enough reason to justify going for the Audi Q7 45 TFSI Quattro S line, which I got to admit is impressive whether in driving performance, comfort, convenience or just simply the quality.
Audi Q7 45 TFSI Quattro S line
Engine: DOHC 24-valve V6 Direct Injection with Supercharger
Bore and stroke: 84x89mm
Compression ratio: n/a
Max power: 333hp/5,500-6,500rpm
Max torque: 440Nm/2,900-5,300rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 6.1 secs
Top speed: 250km/h
Average fuel economy: approx. 8.3-7.9 litres/100km
Suspension (f/r): 5-link/5-link with adaptive air suspension
Steering: powered rack-and-pinion
Turning circle: 12.4 metres
Brakes (f/r): vented disc/vented disc
Track (f/r): 1,679/1,691
Wheels: 21-inch alloy
Tyres: 285/40 R21
Fuel tank capacity: 85 litres
Price: Bt4.99 million
Distributor: Meister Technik Co Ltd