When Audi launched its second generation Q7 SUV late last year, it nudged the $100k mark with a sticker of $103,900. And that’s before you add in all the options that should’ve been standard items.
With entry to the BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport at just over $80k and $90k respectively, and the base Mercedes-Benz GLE demanding ‘just’ $89k, Audi’s marketing department was obviously feeling a little uneasy.
So here it is. A ‘cheaper’ version of the Q7 to bring the price below six digits, though it’s essentially the same car as the pricier Q7 we drove earlier this year. Called the TDI 160 and priced from $96,300, it looks the same as the TDI 200, it’s got the same 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6, the same 8-speed automatic transmission and the same quattro all-wheel drive system.
What marketing has done is asked the engineers to detune the engine to produce less power. And so they did. The Q7 TDI 160 makes 160kW and 500Nm, down from the upper spec model’s 200kW and 600Nm. And now you could probably tell what those three-digit postfixes in the nameplates mean.
Yup, the sole purpose of this exercise is to fill a marketplace and get more sales. And this isn’t just an Audi thing. In fact, almost every premium manufacturer is in this game, to the delight of many who can now afford one of these ‘watered down’ luxo-SUVs.
But watered down the Q7 TDI 160 isn’t. It comes standard with 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights with auto high beam, parking assistance front and rear, rear view camera, side assist, rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, hill start assist, electric adjust front seats with driver’s memory, satellite navigation, digital radio, DVD player and full leather upholstery.
While it misses out on the TDI 200’s excellent Audi Virtual Cockpit full digital instrumentation, the TDI 160’s 7-inch high-res driver information display nestled between a pair of conventional gauges is just as functional.
You still get a spacious cabin with excellent build quality and no shortage of glamour and class. There are three rows of seats though the third row is best reserved for small children.
Despite 40kW and 100Nm down on the more expensive model, the TDI 160’s power deficit is hardly noticeably in every day driving. Acceleration is effortless if not punchy, with almost no turbo lag. It’s not until you plant your right foot at north of 100km/h that you will notice the missing kilowatts and newton metres.
On paper, 0-100km/h takes 7.3 seconds (0.8 seconds slower than the TDI 200), while combined fuel consumption is rated at 5.8L/100km – just 0.1L/100 less than the 200kW variant. Audi’s figure could be a little optimistic, but our week-long real world average of 7.4L/100km is still pretty impressive for a 2100kg SUV. On the freeway, it hovers around 4.0L/100km which is simply astonishing.
Engine operation in the TDI 160 is even quieter than the already muted TDI 200. There’s virtually no diesel clatter in the cabin. The drivetrain is creamy buttery smooth with imperceptible gear changes, though auto stop start is quite the opposite, sending unpleasant jolt into the cabin each time the engine resumes.
If you do option up the Assistance Package ($4,075) which includes automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, you’ll be glad to find that the latter is never abrupt in braking and accelerating. While some other systems we tested race to maintain the set distance from the vehicle in front at the expense of smooth operation, the Q7 is never nervous, positioning itself gently and gradually.
Audi claims the new Q7 is the lightest in its class and some 300kg lighter than the previous model, thanks to the use of ultra-high-strength steel forming the backbone of the occupant cell and aluminium castings for the doors, front and rear sections as well as the superstructure.
As a result, handling is neat and tidy, even without the adaptive air suspension found in the TDI 200. It drives like a smaller car and corners flat at speed. Quattro offers impressive traction dry or wet, and the steering is smooth and easy, with variable weightage depending on the driving mode selected.
Around town road undulations are absorbed with great stability and on long drives it’s just supremely comfortable.
Typical of this company, the options list is extensive and expensive. LED headlights are $2,800 and customised interior inlays (high gloss black / oak, grey) are $1,690. The Matrix LED headlights with dynamic rear indicators option is a whopping $5,500!
Design & Comfort: 8.0/10
Performance & Handling: 8.0/10
Features & Equipment: 7.0/10
The Audi Q7 TDI 160 is a lesser sibling to the TDI 200 only in price and name. It might be down on power but in every day driving you could hardly tell the difference unless you are Mark Skaife on a race track. You do get a few cool features in the TDI 200 – Virtual Cockpit is one of them – but whether it’s worth spending an extra $7,600 is up to you.
- Efficient and smooth drivetrain
- Classy and spacious interior
- Exemplary ride quality
- Up-to-the-minute technology
- Bland styling
- Not much cheaper than the TDI 200
- Expensive options
2016 Audi Q7 TDI 160 pricing and specification:
|Price (Excl. on-roads):||From $96,300|
As tested: $110,615*
Audi Connect – $750
Metallic Paint – $2,400
Assistance Pack – $4,075
Parking Assistance Pack with 360 degree camera – $1,300
LED Headlights – $2,800
Full Body Paint Finish – $1,300
Inlays; High Gloss / Oak, Grey – $1,690
|Warranty:||3 years/unlimited km|
|Service Interval:||15,000km/12 months|
|Country of origin:||Germany, manufactured in Slovakia|
|Engine:||3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel, 160kW @ 3,250-4,750rpm, 500Nm @ 1,250rpm-3,000rpm|
|0 – 100km/h (seconds)||7.3 (claimed)|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||5.8 (claimed); 7.4 (tested)|
|Body:||5-door, 7-seat, SUV|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 8 airbags, reverse camera, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitoring, front and rear parking sensors, hill-start assist, lane departure warning, tyre pressure monitoring, DSC, TCS, ABS, EBD, EBA|
|Dimensions: L/W/H/W-B (mm):||5,052/1,968/1,741/2,994|
|Load space min (L)||770|
|Load space max (L)||1955|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||2,135|
|Entertainment:||8.0-inch MMI infotainment system, Bluetooth, USB, DVD player, smartphone interface, navigation, 10-speakers|