Michael’s World: Leading the Pack, Audi Q7 TDI

By Michael Andre Adams

Hey Harlem, if the absence of style, performance and gas mileage have kept you from owning an SUV, your time has come, thanks to the new Audi Q7 TDI.

Exterior Appeal

Q7 bares a salaciously chiseled front fascia with a bodacious grill, all of which is enhanced by a set of head turning energy efficient daytime running lights outlining the headlights will make the hardest, hard core rapper, break into a smile at high noon. Even on the back end, LED taillights take on a new looks as they wrap around the large opening tailgate that opens and closes with a simple press of a button.

More and more, SUVs are slowly moving away from the traditionally boxy look—a design that once upon a time proved quite useful off-road. If the truth be told, off road driving is simply out the question for the average buyer in the US market. To that I say, know your market and be a pack leader, as is the case with the Q7 and its cousins–the VW Toureg and Porsche Cayenne. Of the three, the curved roof Q7 is THE largest and the only with a third row, which is perfect for two kids, or two average height / less than obese adults. Bottom line, the oh-so-sleek design of the 2010 Q7 makes it a pack leader.

Performance

The Q7 TDI’s 225 horsepower turbo charged engine and six speed transmission results in the power to maneuver this mammoth 5,512 pound vehicle far more gracefully than Range Rover, or any other full size SUV I’ve driven (and I can safely say I’ve driven them all!). When you add Servotronic speed sensitive steering, quattro permanent all wheel drive, and electronic stabilization program (ESP), the end result is an SUV that handles more like a luxury sports sedan, which is amazing for a vehicle of this size and curb weight. The way it takes corners and curves like 125th Street and Lenox Avenue is–for a full size SUV–beyond exciting!

With Audi being maters of performance engineering, I expect a vehicle this sublime to bear its insignia. Over the past few years the German luxury performance brand has stepped up its game technologically and visually for far greater appeal in the Harlem market. And it keeps getting better and better.

TDI’s clean burning diesel engine runs as smooth as any gas engine. Long gone are the days when you heard the diesel engine coming and going, following a cloud of black, highly polluting smoke. This baby purrrrrrrrs like a mean, lean, running machine. In fact, while EPA ratings suggest 475 miles on a tank of diesel fuel, priced at $2.98 a gallon on national average, I got 545 miles with still al little less than a quarter of a tank remaining. And that was for driving around Atlanta–city streets and highway driving. Therefor, if value is also on your list, that’s another point for Audi.

Speaking of value, a $1150 tax credit nearly eliminates the $1450 equipment-adjusted price increase from an equivalent V6 gasoline engine.

Interior

Q7′s dazzling interior design yields the benefits of comfort, convenience and technology for everyone inside. First and foremost, visually, it reeks of Harlem style with it’s luxury appeal. The dash layout is recessed for the visual convenience of the driver. Add to that the third generation MMI—a big button-like knob resting at your fingertips in the center console for complete control of nearly every system, all with ergonomic excellence.

It has all the accoutrements and creature comforts we’ve come to expect in a luxury vehicle. Of them, my favorites include ambient lighting discretely positioned along each door panel and the dash facing the front passenger, even along the floor for the driver and every passenger.

While speaking through the Bluetooth system, I am reminded of a call to a friend who said to me, “why are you hollering? I can hear you crystal clear.”

There are Bose stereo systems for cars, and there are BOSE STEREO SYSTEMS FOR AUDI. Q7′s stereo delivers a punch full of crystal clear sound to sooth you soul, or pump up the party–your choice. CD’s load beneath the front center armrest, which is unique to me, while DVD’s load into the dash. Speaking of DVD’s the one thing I did not notice was a rear seat entertainment system. Perhaps that will come next year.

A very special shout out for the panoramic sunroof offering passengers a trilogy of light to include a front panel that opens fully and tilts, a second row panel offering plenty of light for the second row which has two separate climate zone controls for more or less air at whatever temperature, followed by a third panel that tilts to offer ventilation and light to an otherwise dark zone. With both panels closed, a powered shade slides gracefully over all three zones to further deter any unwanted light. Add to that manual shades to cover the second row windows and a separate shade for the tailgate to comfort the third row.

And have you ever been in a car with just one car charger outlet on the row and you, the driver, need to charge your phone? Well, thoughtful is, having plenty of electrical charger outlets–two on the first and second rows at minimum (I can honestly say I didn’t look for them on the third row).

Safety

Front airbags, driver and front passenger seat mounted side airbags, SIDEGUARD curtain airbags, active and passive rollover protection, side impact protection and of course child safety locks are just a few of the many features that again, ranks the Q7 a top contender in its class.

Price

The base price for the 2010 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI quattro Tiptronic is $50,900. The model tested and shown includes the $6,000 Premium Plus Model package (Audi mmi navigation plus, Audi xenon lights with led daytime running lights and turn signals, automatic dimming and power folding side mirrors, Audi parking system with rearview camera and the panoramic sunroof), and a $1,500 Warm Weather package with four zone climate control and manual rear window shades.

So, if every SUV you’ve tested was just a little too clumsy, boxy and powerless for you, I beg you to try the Q7 TDI.

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