Audi’s Q7 was initially gun shy about SUV, its first, the large-segment Q7, arriving in 2006, fashionably much later the established competition from BMW (X5), Mercedes-Benz (ML-Class), Porsche (Cayenne) and Volkswagen (Touareg).
Audi’s largest model to date launched locally via a lengthy media tour of Outback Australia to prove its multi-terrain capabilities. By all accounts, it proved its mettle handsomely, even if conventional wisdom was, prior to today’s SUV hysteria, few owners would ever tackle serious off-roading.
Underpinned by a version of the Volkswagen Group’s PL71 and built alongside Touareg in Slovakia, the gen-one Q7 was initially offered in both TDI and FSI petrol guises, entering the fray with a choice of two six-pot engines: a 3.0-litre oiler good for 171kW/500Nm or a naturally aspirated 3.6 petrol at 206kW and 360Nm, both priced around the mid-$80k mark.
The tree-topper was a naturally aspirated FSI petrol V8 good for 257kW and 440Nm that fitted adaptive air suspension rather than the conventional spring format of the sixes. A six-speed auto was fitted range wide, while Audi’s penchant for ‘quattro’ permanent all-wheel drive was also par for the Q7 course.
Available in five-, seven- and a rarely optioned six-seat (2+2+2) guises, the Q7 was big, comfy, reasonably well equipped in low-grade from a lobbed at time where premium European marques charged for extra like wounded bulls. Nice wheels, electric leather seating and a sunroof could be a five-figure on-cost. They’re also, by today’s standards, quite thirsty, advertising consumptions of between 10.5L (TDI six) and 13.6L (FSI V8) claimed.
This was also the era when Audi pushed diesel hard as a performance choice, notably marketed through endurance motorsport, and 2008’s Q7 TDI V8, its 4.2-litre twin-turbo unit churning out 240kW and 760Nm, became the range flagship at just under $128k. But there was much more to come…
MY10 saw the arrival of the TDI V12 – that’s no misprint – offering 368kW and ONE THOUSAND Newton metres of torque from its whopping six-litre capacity and dozen-cylinder count, in homage (of sorts) to Audi’s Le Mans racing endeavors. Despite 2.5 tonnes it dispatched 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds and cost a quarter-mil.
A facelift, going some way to amending early Q7’s frumpy styling, lobbed in 2010. Around this time, the underachieving naturally aspirated 3.6 petrol was replaced by a fitter supercharged 3.0-litre unit, outputting a far healthier 254kW and 440Nm and improved (10.7L) fuel consumption, with Audi hiking pricing up to around $94k. Australia’s 3.0SC engine was the higher-output version of two tunes offered globally.
Around this time, Audi also dropped the six-speed automatic in favour of a more modern and efficient eight-speed unit in everything par the mighty V12. Meanwhile, the petrol V8 was retired from the Q7 stable and a more efficient, Euro 6-certified 3.0-litre diesel – 180kW, 550Nm, just 7.4L/100kms – migrated to the lower end of the Q7 line-up.
Latter first-gen Q7s also benefited from Audi expanding more into S-line styling upgrade and a broader choice of aesthetic options and wheel choices. The marque’s now staple MMI infotainment format also surfaced towards the tail end of the lifecycle, which ended in September 2015 when the all-new ‘boxy’ second-generation Q7 launched in Australia.