Audi SQ7 4.0 TFSI 2022 Review : The Bigger Picture
Singapore - It’s often said that things are better when they’re big. Bigger house, bigger bank account, bigger muscles or other parts of the human anatomy perhaps?
But I digress. The point is, bigger is better. Or, is it?
While a large, luxurious 7-seater crossover may be a choice vehicle for some buyers in Singapore, the vast majority of others may face adversities owning and driving such a vehicle. Especially in our densely populated city-state where said majority live in apartment blocks with multi-storey carparks.
So in this context at least, bigger isn’t necessarily better.
So when I was tasked with road testing the new Audi SQ7 TFSI, I approached it with a little trepidation. On one hand, the new SQ7 has a twin turbocharged V8 engine, and in my short years as a motoring journalist, I haven’t had the pleasure of driving one. On the flip side, the car comes with a hefty price tag north of $500,000 and a hull as large as its price tag.
Understandably, I was a little tense when I fired up that V8 lump of I.C.E. goodness and gingerly made my way back to the office. But as I merged onto the expressway, I came to the realisation that this hulking behemoth of an SUV wasn’t as unwieldy as I’d initially expected.
As the kilometres wore on, I found myself less apprehensive with my steering inputs and got more confident with the throttle. Big as it may be, this is a car that behaves more nimbly than one might come to expect of a 7-seater SUV as large as this. Suffice to say, I arrived back at the office in record quick time.
Audi SQ7 4.0 TFSI - The Big Show
Yes, it’s a big and stately vehicle. But in keeping with Audi’s other S-badged vehicles like the SQ5 Sportback and e-tron S Sportback, the “S” model designation doesn’t exactly endow the SQ7 with overly conspicuous sporty embellishments.
On the face of it, our SQ7 test car has subtle cues that hint at the barnstorming performance under the bonnet. An assortment of S badges, satin silver mirror caps, 5-spoke 22-inch rims clad in 285 section rubber and a more aggressive rear bumper with quad tailpipes. But otherwise, it looks no different from the standard car and it is just as massive.
That being said, it isn’t as challenging to manoeuvre as one might expect. Yes, it may be a veritable giant at over 5 meters long, almost 2 meters wide and as tall as the average Singaporean male. But truthfully, getting behind the wheel of it was no more challenging than stepping into a smaller vehicle.
In fact, it feels as if the manoeuvrability of this car outshines that of the e-tron S Sportback, thanks in part to its all-wheel-steering system. Although on paper, the SQ7’s turning radius of 12.5 meters is 0.3 wider than that of the e-tron S. But for a car of this size, I had no complaints.
Audi SQ7 4.0 TFSI - The Big Cabin
Clamber into the cabin and you’re greeted with an expanse of gloss black veneer and a multitude of screens, just like you’d find on Audi’s higher-tier models. As expected from the brand, the fit and finish of every surface is quality Audi through and through. No loose panels or rattling components here.
The dashboard of our test car sees several lashings of carbon fibre (a S$4,726 option), “S” motifs on the steering wheel, sill plates and lovely quilted seats. Our test car even came with LED puddle lights on all doors that project Audi’s “S” logo onto the ground for that extra dose of panache.
The quilted sports seats up front are snug and supportive without being too encumbering, but you’d have to delve into the MMI infotainment menu to adjust the side bolsters and seat pan to your liking. It was at this point (admittedly, late into my drive) that I realised the car came fitted with massage seats in the front. It’s a nifty feature, though one shouldn’t expect a full-body shiatsu like you’d find in a proper massage chair.
Audi SQ7 4.0 TFSI - The Big Caboose
That being said, the niceties in the cabin aren’t limited to the front occupants. The rear bench, which can be pushed back and reclined, is nothing short of palatial with copious amounts of room above your head and ahead of your legs. In this particular configuration, you’d free up over 600 litres of boot space and leave room for the load cover (which can’t be affixed with the third row of seats up). Plenty for check-in luggage, carry-ons, holdalls and emotional baggage if you could manage it.
Even with the third row up, passengers in the middle row wouldn’t find themselves cramped. Although the same can’t be said for the rear occupants. Technically, the rear bench does accommodate grown adults though with some degree of discomfort over longer journeys. Fortunately, Singapore is a small nation. So you’d get where you’re going rather quickly in the SQ7 thanks to its barnstorming powertrain.
Audi SQ7 4.0 TFSI - The Big Numbers
Really, it's a quick beast. There aren’t many 7-seat SUVs that are as quick or as powerful as this. It might not have a V12 or a 900Nm turbodiesel V8 like the SQ7s of yesteryear, but it does have a 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8 that produces 507 horsepower and 770Nm of torque. Not quite the gut-wrenching 900Nm that the previous generation SQ7 TDI had, but it’s still a considerable amount of twisting force. More than enough to propel this large crossover to illegal speeds quicker than you'd expect.
Audi SQ7 4.0 TFSI - The Big Speed
Sure, it’s no speeding bullet. But a 2.3-ton SUV that can do 0-100km/h in 4.1 seconds and attain a top speed of 250km/h is nothing short of extraordinary. In Singapore at least, luxurious 7-seaters that boast similar performance metrics and acceleration times like the SQ7 are few and far between. In fact, it may very well be the fastest accelerating 7-seat SUV on sale in Singapore at the time of writing.
But if I were to focus solely on the SQ7’s performance metrics, I’d be missing the bigger picture. Yes, it’s got the performance numbers to embarrass many other super saloons. Yes, it's got the pace and outright speed figures to outrun sports cars. And yes, that rumbling V8 sounds absolutely brutal and raucous when you get higher up in the rev range. But the SQ7 is way more than the sum of its parts and numbers. It's quick, but it's agile for its breadth and heft.
Don’t kid yourself into thinking you could set lap records in the SQ7 on track. Take it from me, you can’t. But if you were to attempt driving it in an exuberant manner, you’d realise that the SQ7 has rather impressive roadholding capabilities that inspire a little more confidence when you plant your right foot down. Even on the comfort biased, NVH reducing tyres our test car rode on, the SQ7 grips the tarmac with ease around the bends. Frankly, it's bizarre that this large crossover handles itself around the corners as well as it does.
In the unlikely event that your commute does involve a spot of offroading, you could even chuck it in its 'offroad' or 'allroad' modes to raise the air springs so you'd clear most minor obstacles when you get off the paved tarmac.
But when you decide to take it easy, it settles into a high speed cruise with ease and immense comfort. The combination of 5-link struts and our test car's air suspension package soaks up all manner of road imperfections for a smooth, serene ride that feels no different than that of a regular Q7 SUV. The rumbling V8 even shuts down half its cylinders in an effort to save some petrol. Go gentle on the throttle, and you’re rarely in need of ever going above 2000rpm in day to day driving.
Audi SQ7 4.0 TFSI - The Big Short
So it’s posh, it’s comfortable and it’s fast. I like it, and you'd want one in your stable. But she is a thirsty brute. Even when you go easy on the throttle, you’d still be looking at a fuel economy figure in excess of 14L/100km. Maybe higher, if you factor in some exuberant driving. With a full 85-litre tank, you could just about make it to 610km before you’d have to top it up again. You could try putting it into overdrive to save some fuel, but 8th gear doesn’t engage under 80km/h so you’d really only be able to use it on our highway network and nowhere else.
Suffice to say, maintaining a car such as this would run you back a considerable sum of money in road tax bills, insurance premiums and petrol costs. And that’s before you factor in the SQ7's starting price of S$520,951 (at the time of writing). That being said, if you’re in the market for a V8-powered 7-seater luxury crossover, the Audi SQ7 is a damn fine choice. Maybe the only one that you'll ever need.
It’s an SUV with shed loads of power, shed loads of room and it’ll get you (and your posse) to your destination in record quick time. What’s not to like?
PHOTOS Jay Tee
Audi SQ7 TFSI
Engine 3996cc, V8, twin-turbocharged petrol
Transmission 8-speed tiptronic automatic
Top Speed 250km/h
Fuel Consumption 13.3l/100km