2017 Audi Q7 first drive review

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Don’t worry, America, it’s not a wagon. It just drives like one, is as useful as one, and, if you squint at it the right way, kinda looks like one. But it’s still one of God’s Own Vehicles: a fully Merkuh-approved crossover.

But I didn’t drive the new 2017 Audi Q7 in America—it won’t reach our streets until early next year. Instead, I spent two days driving it through the Swiss Alps, where its footprint seems rather larger than most of the other vehicles on the road.

Despite that large body—which, like my own, doesn’t seem nearly so huge here in the U.S.—the Q7 hustles a switchback like a much smaller car. Almost like a hatchback. Or—gasp!—a wagon.

ALSO SEE: 2017 Audi SQ7 Spy Shots

Part of that nimbleness comes from the Q7’s huge weight savings over the previous model, and the fact that it’s just outright pretty darned light for a vehicle of its type, equipment level, and size.

Part of the Q7’s athleticism also comes from the new four-wheel steering system, which reduces the turning radius by a bit more than 3 feet, improving lower-speed handling and increasing higher-speed stability.

The American-specification versions of the 2017 Audi Q7 haven’t yet been nailed down in their particulars, meaning we don’t have precise curb weights just yet, but we can get a general idea from the European-spec cars.

There are some important differences—ones that will have a direct impact on the curb weight. For instance, German-market cars are available with five seats (American Q7s will all have seven) and without the panoramic sunroof (which will be standard on American Q7s).

2016 Audi Q7 first drive

2016 Audi Q7 first drive

2016 Audi Q7 first drive

2016 Audi Q7 first drive

2016 Audi Q7 first drive

2016 Audi Q7 first drive

That said: the new Q7 saves several hundred pounds over the previous model, tipping the scales around 4,500 pounds. That’s not exactly light, but in the seven-passenger class, and with the Q7’s level of interior quality, cabin quietness, quattro all-wheel drive, and high-tech accoutrement, it’s a relative flyweight.

All of which adds up to this: the 2017 Audi Q7 is surprisingly fun to drive, whether you pick the 3.0-liter TFSI V-6 gasoline engine or the 3.0-liter TDI V-6 diesel.

The gas engine rates 333 horsepower and and 324 pound-feet of torque; diesel ratings have yet to be specified for the American market, but expect something around 260 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque.

Either engine slings the Q7 forward with a pleasant willingness, while the new five-link suspension (front and rear) and adaptive damping lend the Q7 a truly car-like (cough *wagonlike* cough) feel behind the wheel. That steering wheel, by the way, gets electromechanical power assist, while the eight-speed automatic transmission offers normal and sport modes; all of these settings can be tuned to the driver’s desired specification through the Audi Drive Select Individual settings.

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