Sunday, December 15, 2019
First Reviews 2020 Audi Q7 First Drive Review: It Wasn’t Broke But They Still...

2020 Audi Q7 First Drive Review: It Wasn’t Broke But They Still Fixed It

The revisions to the 2020 Audi Q7 are far more than skin deep. The significant upgrades make a good luxury SUV great.

Kerry, Ireland. Not the most likely place to test drive a new midsize luxury SUV you might think, and I would agree. As a destination, full points are awarded but certainly it was a challenge for those of us who drove the new 2020 Audi Q7. Portions of the Ring of Kerry that we completed are no wider than the Q7. Driving on the left-hand-side of the road while seated on the left side of the SUV created a number of constraints but clearly the new Q7 was up to the task.


Chassis tuning at its finest

2020 Audi Q7 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The first item of business is the optional all-wheel steering. I’ve said it before and it applies here: This is the best reintroduced old-new technology one can get with any new vehicle. Optionally available with the new 2020 Audi Q7, all testers at our disposal were equipped as such. The impact of this mechanical element is very real and came in handy when negotiating Killarney’s many tight roundabouts and narrow streets.

All-wheel steering along the newly optimized quicker steering ratio, further complemented by the optional air suspension all proved to be serious assets on the Ring’s tortuous and damaged roads. The also accessible air suspension Sport, included in the tested Q7 S Line, lowers the SUV by 15mm in its normal drive mode over the regular air suspension. Not only does it provide immense control, especially when combined with the optional electromechanical active roll stabilization, but the delivered level of comfort and refinement are incomparable. Furthermore, the air suspension can, from the neutral point, raise the Q7 by 50mm for exceptional ground clearance and can lower the vehicle up to 40mm for stability at high speeds. And let’s admit it, a whole new attitude when parked.


More premium, like the rest of the group

2020 Audi Q7 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

On the topic of attitude, the new 2020 Audi Q7 gains a slew of physical updates that fast-forward it into Audi’s current and heavily revamped lineup. The vehicle is actually 11mm longer than previous Q7 due to the new front and rear fascias. The face of the new vehicle sports a large octagon-shaped “Singleframe” grille which protrudes slightly. Both ends feature new lighting. The headlights, which are optionally available with HD Matrix LED technology with Audi laser light (Matrix not offered in Canada), are loaded with character and presence. The new rear taillights are flat and connected by an aluminum strip. What Audi designers have done seems simple but the final result is seriously fetching.

The 2020 Audi Q7 ushers in a considerable update to the instrument panel as part of the new dashboard. Referred to as the “digital operating concept”, the driver’s cockpit can be outfitted with the Audi virtual cockpit. It complements the center console that now includes two large touchscreens which provide haptic and acoustic feedback when clicked.

Numerous carmakers have attempted the dual-screen setup and all have failed to deliver a cohesive user experience. There is now an exception: Audi has properly divided each screens’ duties in order to avoid redundancy and confusion. The linear or horizontal integration of screen and vents are a throwback to previous austere and clean Audi dashboard designs.

Of the many other upgrades carried to the Q7’s interior, we find new contoured seats and the S sport seats plus. For the 2020 Audi Q7, both types can be heated, cooled and with a massaging function. For this update, Audi has also incorporated a few elements that were once optional in the vehicle. One such item is Audi’s audio system. Its position cuts down on available boot volume in the 5-seater version by 25 litres however the 865-litre to 2,050-litre capacity remains more than sufficient.


Turbocharged mild-hybrid technology

2020 Audi Q7 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Finally, we come to powertrains. Although the 2.0 TFSI 4-cylinder engine will carry on, we were able to test out the new 55 TFSI turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 (replaces the supercharged 3.0-litre V6) good for 340-horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque (up from 325) as of 1,400 rpm mated to an equally new 48-volt mild hybrid system. Altogether and with the included 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, the new Q7 55 TFSI will hit 100 km/h in about 5.5 seconds.

As with many big SUVs, performance and efficiency go hand in hand. The integrated 48-volt mild hybrid system offers up to 8 kW of energy storage. This energy is recovered during braking and is put to use when coasting at speeds between 50-160 km/h. It can also boost starts from a dead-stop up to 22 km/h.  All said, the mild-hybrid system can reduce consumption by up to 0.7L/100 km.

On the road, the new 2020 Audi Q7 behaves exactly as desired no matter the conditions. Through its 7 drive modes, the Q7 can be docile and comfortably hyper-mile or tenaciously tackle high-speed switchbacks. The V6’s power is swift however I found a mild delay between throttle application and power delivery, even when in the sportier modes. This is not an unusual flaw and can be countered with pre-emptive throttle.

The new quicker steering ratio along with all the aforementioned features shrink the 2020 Audi Q7 to a very manageable size. So responsive is the chassis that it feels far more agile and nimble than its outer dimensions suggest.


It’s all here

2020 Audi Q7 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The new Audi Q7 is, for a lack of a better expression, the complete package. Its interior and exterior upgrades are spot on, the new technology throughout includes features we knew we wanted and the driving experience is in a word, excellent. There are many lesser choices in the $60k-$80k price range, with or without three rows of seating.

Pricing is not yet known although we figure that a 2020 Q7 45 TFSI quattro Komfort will start closer to $70,000 (from just over $66k in 2019) given the improvements and extra features. The new Audi Q7 will be launched in Europe in mid-September and will arrive in Canada in the 1st quarter of 2020.


2020 Audi Q7 Photo Gallery

2020 Audi Q7 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2020 Audi Q7 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2020 Audi Q7 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,400 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai

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