2020 Audi SQ7 First Test: Changing Perceptions
Three-row SUVs are known for their spaciousness, great packaging, and well-installed rides. With space for seven or eight passengers, they have become the new minivans and are popular participants in stereotypical football practices or school pickup / drop lines. While some of these SUVs can be fun to drive, high performance and excellent driving dynamics are not their top priorities. The 2020 Audi SQ7, however, attempts to change that perception. With its 500 horsepower V8 engine and the ability to go 0-100 km / h in about 4.0 seconds, moms and dads will rejoice.
Based on the fantastic MLB platform, which is also shared with other VW Group stars such as the Porsche Cayenne, Bentley Bentayga and Lamborghini Urus, the SQ7 delivers the power, handling and excitement that parents want it all. by meeting the needs of the rest of the family. For a long time, this niche segment of three-row performance SUVs was occupied by only a handful of players, but the segment blooms like flowers in spring. In just a few short years, the Lincoln Aviator Grand Touring, Volvo XC90 T8 and BMW X7 M50i have emerged in America as family adventurers producing over 400 horsepower and loving to go the extra mile. And Audi returns, this time with a new gasoline engine.
Power to parents
On the serpentine roads of the Angeles Crest Highway north of Los Angeles, the 2020 SQ7 felt in its natural habitat. Standard summer tires kept the entire body glued to the ground, and its large body leaned nimbly through corners. The S-tuned air suspension showed its abilities in handling all the tight corners with impeccable posture, and its power steering seemed perfectly balanced and linear.
The new SQ7 is powered by the VW Group’s 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine, tuned to produce 500 horsepower and 568 lb-ft of torque. The new V-8 is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which sends all that power to all four wheels thanks to Audi’s reliable Quattro all-wheel drive system. Pressing the accelerator emits a rumble of the motor which is pumped through the speakers as adrenaline fills your veins and a smile stretches across your face. The engine’s readiness combined with the grippy tires, the adaptive S-tuned air suspension and the fantastic steering give the SQ7 a big dose of high performance capabilities. Like the beautiful Audi Q8, the SQ7 features all-wheel steering, which turns the rear wheels up to 5 degrees to help with high-speed stability and (at speeds up to 35 mph) for tighten the turning radius.
I spent most of my time driving in Dynamic mode, as it was best suited for a twisty mountain road like ACH, but drivers can also choose between Comfort, Auto, Individual and All-Road. Dynamic Mode stiffens the power steering and adaptive suspension while sharpening the drivetrain for a thrilling experience behind the wheel. The transmission behaved so well that I left it running most of the time instead of using the paddle shifters. The gearbox downshifts without thinking twice in a quick and smooth manner.
But how fast is the Audi SQ7? After running ACH in its entirety, we headed to our Fontana track to get our series of instrumented tests. The 2020 Audi SQ7 hit 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, beating Audi’s estimates by 0.4 seconds. The quarter mile was covered in 12.1 seconds at 111.8 mph, and it completed our eight test in 25.2 seconds at 0.76 g. Not only are these numbers impressive, but the Ingolstadt-based crossover also showed its stopping power, stopping at 100 km / h in 111 feet.
Compared to a Dodge Durango SRT with the 6.4-liter V8 that develops 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, the Audi is still a bit faster. A 2018 Durango showed its American strength by hitting 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and covering the quarter mile in 13.2 seconds. The Audi is always faster, and its base price is less than $ 5,000 of that of the top-of-the-line Durango.
While “my” Audi SQ7 didn’t have the optional Sport Package, this $ 5,900 package offers active roll stabilization, a rear differential with torque vectoring, and red brake calipers. Audi says we should expect less body roll with the Sport package and better traction on twisty roads, but the SQ7 does the job just fine without the package. However, we can’t wait to test one with such improvements to see if we notice the difference.
Activating Comfort mode will put all performance bonuses to sleep. Engine roar, punch, sport suspension and stiff steering are turned off for a more peaceful and quiet ride. Borrowing a page from the Porsche Cayenne, the SQ7 can become a roadrunner on mountain roads while providing a leisurely ride to drive the kids to school.
Space for the Fam
As a mid-size SUV, the SQ7 can accommodate seven people thanks to its three standard rows. And like most SUVs in the segment, the third row is tight. I’m a little over 6ft tall and was able to sit in the third row with the second row a little forward. Even though I didn’t feel this uncomfortable, I wasn’t comfortable either, as my head was touching the headliner, my knees were touching the seatback, and the high floor made my knees feel like my chin. Getting in and out of the third row is an easier task, however, as the second row seat uses an air spring that lifts the rear up to clear the way.
As with most SUVs in the segment, the SQ7’s cargo capacity is compromised when the third row is upright. But fold those seats down and the cargo space becomes gigantic. The third row seats can be folded down in a 50/50 configuration and the second row can slide forward and back for a better seating position.
Like the Q8 and A8, the updated SQ7 adopts Audi’s new dual-screen infotainment setup with a haptic twist. The upper screen is used for all infotainment, and the lower screen is used for HVAC controls. Using the screens is easy and I’m a fan of the sleek graphics and excellent resolution, especially on the top screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Wireless make their debut in MMI infotainment, and for a better experience Audi Virtual Cockpit can display Google Maps on the digital dashboard.
As part of the updated infotainment system, the SQ7 2020 will tell drivers how long to wait at a red light at more than 15,000 intersections across the country. Although I haven’t had a chance to try it myself (there are no red lights on Angeles Crest), it’s a feature that many drivers will take full advantage of while using their phones, and we are sure it will extend to other Audi models. .
Another novelty is the Integrated Toll Module, a transponder integrated into the vehicle which eliminates the need to mount multiple toll tags on the windshield. Just create an account online and add your credit card, and all tolls will be paid automatically. This system also works in more than a dozen airport car parks across the country.
Should I buy it?
Due to the global health emergency, some of the 2020 Audi SQ7s arrived on American soil before the ports closed. But as Audi has continued to increase production in Germany, 2021 models will be available soon. Their only differences are the addition of a heated steering wheel for the Premium Plus version and a leather-padded center console for the 2021 Prestige model.
The prices are also a bit different. The 2020 Audi SQ7 Premium Plus, which includes 21-inch wheels, four-zone automatic climate control and a premium 3-D surround sound system, starts at $ 85,795; the 2021 is $ 200 more. The Prestige version starts at $ 91,395 for the 2020 model and $ 92,195 for the 2021 model. Some of the interesting features of the Prestige trim include the double-glazed acoustic glass for the side windows (which effectively excludes most exterior noise), ventilated front seats and the driver assistance package.
With the 2020 Audi SQ7, Ingolstadt wants to entertain American parents. Not only can they drive kids to school in style and comfort, but they can add a dose of fun and performance as well.
|2020 Audi SQ7|
|STARTING PRICE||$ 85,795|
|PRICE TESTED||$ 91,640|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine 4-door SUV, all-wheel drive, 5 passengers|
|ENGINE||4.0L / 500hp / 568lb-ft DOHC 32-valve twin-turbo V8 engine|
|TRANSMISSION||8 speed automatic|
|WEIGHT ON BOARD (F / R DIST)||5,230 lbs (56/44%)|
|Length x Width x Height||199.6 x 77.6 x 68.5 inches|
|0 to 60 mph||3.6 seconds|
|QUARTER MILE||12.1 seconds at 111.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||111 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.91 g (average)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||25.2 s at 0.76 g (average)|
|EPA CITY / HWY / COMB FUEL ECON||15/21/17 mpg|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / ROAD||225/160 kW-h / 100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB||1.13 lbs / mile|
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