The Audi SQ7 rebels against everything we’ve been told and everything that physics dictates. Large and heavy cars are not meant to be fast. Tall SUVs should not feel poised. Diesel engines should be underpowered and sound nasty and rattly. Well, the SQ7 blows all of those theories out of the window. It’s as athletic as it is sonorous, and a true technical masterpiece.
Although the Audi masks its size and weight when you’re driving it, its design does the opposite. This is a car that’s proud of its size. Its wheels are massive, the doors vast, and, at the front, there's an impressive grille.
The sheer volume this car occupies means that it’s far from elegant-looking. What it lacks in grace, it makes up for in intimidation.
The SQ7 will fill the mirrors of any other car, even from a distance, and its large front intake looks like it might swallow any small cars that get in its way. It’s a dominating force on the motorway, seeing you through road trips with ease and refusing to be bullied in heavy traffic.
What's it like to drive?
It always seems remarkable that hippos are capable of outrunning Usain Bolt – and the Audi SQ7 is similarly surprising. Despite its enormity – its hippo-like scale, even – the SQ7 is a rapid car. Its large diesel V8 motor has three different systems for forcing air and fuel into the engine to make it generate more power.
That may seem like overkill, and, in fact, you may feel like the whole car is a bit unnecessary – until you experience it, that is. Once you’ve heard the deep rumble from its exhaust pipes and endured its surging, unrelenting acceleration that thrusts you into the back of the seats, you need to feel it again. It’s addictive.
Thanks to some exceedingly clever suspension technology and colossal wheels and tyres, this sizeable Audi can remain poised and unruffled as it storms down the most tortuous of roads. It’s far from being the traditional definition of driving enjoyment, but the SQ7 puts a smile on your face one way or another.
Despite its enormity – its hippo-like scale, even – the SQ7 is a rapid car.
Audis have some of the best interiors you can get in modern cars, and the SQ7 is no exception. The design is clean and understated with some clever and thoughtful ideas. For example, look out for the wide vent that stretches across the entire passenger side of the dash. This turns something functional into a stylish feature.
Along with its minimal and chic design, the interior has a real quality feel. The inside of the SQ7 is reminiscent of expensive modern furniture – which even though there’s not a lot to it, exudes luxury. Unlike that weird modernist homeware, the SQ7 is comfortable. Its seats are big and squidgy, and the car’s sporty nature hasn’t totally annihilated its smooth ride.
The highlight of the SQ7’s interior is its digital dash, which Audi calls a Virtual Cockpit. Instead of the usual dials, you’ll find a big screen that displays all sorts of information – from what's on the radio to how economical the car is. Usefully, it can also display a map and sat-nav guidance, showing you what corners are coming up at a mere glance behind the steering wheel. It means you can drive with more confidence on roads you don’t know and be better prepared for any tricky sections.
The SQ7’s dimensions suggest that it’s a big car, and it really is. This impressive SUV is easily able to hold seven passengers and still provides enough boot space for a bulky pushchair or a stack of shopping.
Fold away the third row of chairs and the boot grows big enough to stow away all that you needed for a family camping trip. And finally, pack away the three middle seats and you could use the SQ7 to carry multiple push bikes or even move house.
Reliability and running costs
Just because the SQ7 is a diesel, don’t assume it’ll return great MPG figures. It is big and powerful after all, the enemy of economy, so you can expect a modest 20mpg.
It’s also fairly pricey to tax and insure, and, if you need to replace the tyres on its big 21- or 22-inch wheels (both sizes are available on the SQ7), it’s going to cost more than £1,000 for a full set.
The SQ7 is a reliable, dependable and tough car, so even though you’ll spend a reasonable amount of money running it, it should go on for a very long time. Consider signing up for cinchCare to keep this motor up and running when you need it.
What we love
The Audi SQ7 is a deeply impressive car. With every turn of its wheels, it demonstrates how clever modern cars have become and it exhibits how the technology that goes into making them makes the ride more enjoyable. Then, on the rare occasions you aren’t captivated by it as a technical showcase, the massive cavernous space inside will simply be incredibly useful.
Still looking for the one?
Use our comparison tool to find the car for you
The sheer absurdity of a car that's as large as the Audi SQ7 moving with the agility and pace of a smaller performance car is mesmerising. Driving it challenges everything you thought you knew about cars and how they are meant to behave. Once you’ve become accustomed to its abilities, which will take some time, you can then appreciate it for its near-endless practicality.
This review was