Goodyear Tyres

Going on a road trip is one of life’s many pleasures. The sense of adventure is exhilarating, and if you are a car guy then going on a road trip with the right car is what dreams are made of.

At the end of last year, this writer visited Western Australia and did the all important Southern triangle tour. Beginning from Perth down south to Albany, west to Agusta and back up north again through Margaret River and Busselton. The drive itself was epic with straight roads in the middle of nowhere that stretch straight straight as far as the eye can see. There was no police either. It was perfect to say the least, the views were breathtaking for the entire 2000 plus kilometer journey.

The only thing that could have been better was the car. We rented a new Hyundai i30, which is great around town mind you, but not a car for road trips. Just the words Hyundai and road trips don’t do much to inspire a long drive.

But the car that really would have perfected our little trip would have been this – the new Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI quattro. A car I drove for a few days after returning from the land down under.

What strikes you the most about the new Q7 is its size. There are lots of Q7s on our roads, both old and new, and what never fails to stand out is its sheer presence on the road. Though it may not look like it, the new Q7 is actually longer than its predecessor, but is somehow more compact in overall size. A feat achieved through some clever designing like the reduced overhang at the back.

The design of the Q7 may not be up to everyone’s standards though; I liked it, the family liked it, some bar mates didn’t like it, preferring the old flowing design to the new sharpened strokes and edges. But everyone liked the new Audi Matrix LED headlights that look like it came off of a sci-fi flick. They not only look cool but work like magic in illuminating the road ahead at night. But what ultimately matters most is the sales figures, and Audi has managed to shift quite a few of the Q7s off showroom floors.

This particular 2.0 TFSI model replaces the old first-generation 3.0 quattro, and besides the engine, has a few differentiating factors to the top of the line 3.0 quattro variant such as the 19″ V-Spoke design alloy wheels, instead of the 20″ cast aluminum wheels on the top end model. But because the model we tested here comes fitted with the RM15,000 S-line option, it too comes with the same 20″ wheels and sportier front and rear bumpers, diffusers, as well as an S-line sports steering wheel, sports leather seats, and special inlays around the interior.

Besides that though, it too comes packed with the same features that the 3.0 quattro variant enjoys, like the start/stop system with energy recovery, tyre pressure loss indicator, hill descent control, electronic stabilisation control with traction control, electronic brake force distribution, electronic differential lock, anti-lock braking system, and a total of eight airbags.

There are two things that make this car perfect, whether for road trips or regular everyday drives – one is the spacious interior and banging audio system, and the other is the frugal yet powerful drivetrain.

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The interior is akin to a rolling business class lounge, and that is good considering you pay RM524,900 sans insurance for such top end luxury. Spaciousness is also a given in the Q7 while the black-leathered S-line sports seats are comfortable and grip you in place when you want to tackle your favorite corner at speed. But what is interesting in here is the fact that the Q7 is a seven-seater and the third row seats are electrically-operated and are able to split 50:50. When the seats are folded in place, you get an impressive 770 liters of storage space, but when folded down, that figure grows to a gargantuan 1955 liters. Huge is an understatement.

So we have established that the interior is a comfortable, spacious, pleasant place to be in. But in my personal opinion, the already impressive interior is crowned perfect by the MMI touch infotainment system and it’s 8.3″ central screen. It features high-resolution graphics and high-resolution cameras to give you a clear view around the car, either when moving ahead or when reversing.

The MMI system first made its debut in the 2002 Audi A8, and having been perfected ever since, is truly user friendly now. And so when coupled to the new 9-channel amplifier with 10 speakers, it gives a total output of 180 watts, transforming the Q7 into a music lover’s private moving studio.

No doubt that the interior is the best thing about this car, but then again credit is due to the drivetrain as well. The 2.0-litre TFSI engine and it’s four-cylinders deserve due credit because despite being a small engine, it puts out 252hp and 370Nm of torque. And because the new Q7 is an incredible 325 kilograms lighter than the model it replaces, the new engine is able to catapult this behemoth to 100km/h in just 7.1 seconds; a full 0.8 seconds faster than the old model which was powered by a 3.0-litre V6 engine.

The drivetrain is not only powerful but frugal too; the technical sheet puts the fuel consumption figure at just 7.4-litres for every 100 kilometers, while a full tank of petrol gives you a range of over 700 kilometers, but that is probably because the tank measures in at a massive 75 liters.

I can go on and on about how impressive the new Q7 is and how much I love the design, and the fact that the car is able to life itself up by 60mm if you need to drive off road, and how the rear of the car is able to lower itself by 45 mm to help you load heavy items, I love a lot of things about the Q7 and can’t seem to fault it. The Audi Q7 2.0 TFSI quattro is beautiful and practical to say the least, and if you really need just one car to go about daily life and the occasional road trip, then this is it.

[Keshy Dhillon]

Proto Malaysia

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