Getting children ready for school on time each morning needs to be as precise as a military operation. Make the lunches, get dressed, brush teeth, pack bags, double check all of the these activities have been completed. Shoes on, garage door down and in the car ready to go and then, “mum, I forgot my hat,” comes bellowing from the rear seats!
Having a vehicle that can help you handle the manic mornings is a must and the Audi SQ7 TFSI is one such SUV. With seven useable seats, room in the boot for school bags plus other little luxuries like 4-way climate control, and front massaging seats thanks to the optional Sensory Package, this SQ7 has the ability to take the stress out of the busy school run.
The Valcona leather seat upholstery that comes standard combined with the extended leather package in my SQ7 covering the dashboard in leather makes for a sweet odour in the cabin that acts like aromatherapy. Both front seats have power adjustment for recline, forward/back, seat height cushion front and rear and 4-way lumbar support using the buttons on the side of the seat, but only the driver’s seat gets two memory seating positions.
Press the image of the seat on the lower haptic touch screen and you get even more options to adjust the front leg extension, side bolstering on the seat cushion and the seat back. Under this menu you can also select whether you want heating and cooling on your bottom, back or both and what massage you would like. There are eight different massage settings, with intensity control, that focus on your back only. Waiting in the car lines has never been such a relaxing experience thanks to the SQ7.
The optional Sensory Package ($13,300) also adds the magnificent Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System that delivers the goods when mum just needs some loud music to wash over her emotions. This sound system features up to 23 active loudspeakers including two unique acoustic lenses that emerge from the dashboard. The 5.1 Surround Sound technology has up to 1920 Watts of power and Advanced Vehicle Noise Compensation. The Aluminium door speaker covers look beautiful, but have very sharp edges and I couldn’t help but think that if you or a child slid out of the door awkwardly that the covers would cut a knee open.
The main 10.1” haptic touchscreen has lovely graphics, but it did take me a bit to get used to how hard I had to press the buttons to make a selection. Under these menus you will find the controls for the ambient lighting where you can choose from the 30 colours available and even set a different colour for the foot well and upper areas in the SQ7. Voice control is also available to help navigate the infotainment options by pressing the button on the steering wheel with the feminine looking silhouette on it. The voice control worked well for me when I used it to make calls and set a destination on the sat nav. I got it to change the radio station once I realised that I had to use the name of the station rather than the frequency of it.
I was not impressed by the gloss black and shiny metal trim on the dash and centre console as it gathers dust and finger marks and reflected the sun into my eyes, but I do like the optional carbon fibre inlays ($1,950). Under the arm rest is a pad for wireless charging and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay that connected seamlessly as soon as I got into the SQ7. There is also two USB-C ports here with a 12V outlet located between the two cup holders in the centre console, with wireless charging for the key fob between them.
The SQ7 is a seven-seat SUV with ISOFIX/rear tether child seat restraint points available on each of the five rear seats. ANCAP noted that limited space in the third row prevented installation of rearward facing child restraints, and incompatibility with one of the Type A/B convertible seats when used in the outboard seats of the second row. The Type A capsule could not be correctly installed in the centre rear (2nd row) position either.
The two outer second row seats are heated and each seat in the second row can be individually manually slid forward and back and adjusted for recline. For me head and leg room adequate, even in the centre seat. The movability of these seats is handy when trying to fit three car seats across the second row or if three adults need to sit there. The centre seat can also be folded down as an arm rest with two slim cup holders in it and there are large drink bottle storage cubbies in both the rear and front doors.
Rear passengers get individual climate control settings for temperature, air speed and mode with central air vents and vents in the B-pillars. The rear climate can also be controlled from the front climate menu as well if your children are too young to do this themselves. Under the rear climate controls there are two USB-C ports and one 12V outlet for devices.
The third-row seats are usable in the real world and I was able to fit in them, but my head touched the roof. You can raise and lower the third-row seats from buttons on the C-pillar and access them by completely folding the second-row seat up and out of the way. This means if you are using the third row all of the time you would have to consider car seat placement on the second-row. By doing this, the gap is large to step or reach through to do up the seat belt a young child in a car seat. Some other things to consider is there are no air vents in the third row and only shallow drink bottle holders on each side of the vehicle. On the upside the SQ7 does have a large panoramic sunroof that does open up the cabin substantially.
When the third row seats are in use there is just enough room for the school bags to fit in the boot or for a small shop. It is worth noting that there is nowhere in the SQ7 to store the cargo cover, which needs to be removed when using the third row seats, so it would need to be left at home. The third row seats can be raised and lowered using buttons in the boot and when they are lowered completely flat the boot space is very large and would fit a pram and the weekly shop.
The SQ7 has a powered tailgate with gesture open and close or you can open/close from the button under the tailgate, on the key fob or in the cabin. There are buttons in the boot to raise and lower the SQ7 to help make it easier for you to lift items in. The boot space has four substantial tie down points, two hooks, two lights and a 12V outlet and due to the lack of under floor storage in the boot the cargo net has to be stored in the boot area and there is no spare tyre.
Safety is also very important particularly when children are about and the SQ7 assists here with a 360o rear view camera with 3D view option that allows you to virtually walk around the vehicle to observe if there are any obstacles present with the camera system combined with 360o sensors.
Active safety features include adaptive cruise control (set using stalk behind steering wheel), Audi active lane assist, Audi side assist – blind spot warning system, Intersection crossing assist, Collision avoidance assist, rear cross traffic assist rear and an exit warning system. ANCAP tests of the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system in highway speed scenarios showed ADEQUATE and GOOD performance with collisions avoided or mitigated in most test scenarios. Overall, effectiveness of the AEB system performance in highway speed scenarios was rated as GOOD. ANCAP tests of lane support system (LSS) functionality showed ADEQUATE performance in lane keep assist scenarios, and ADEQUATE performance in the more critical emergency lane keeping scenarios. Overall performance of the LSS system was classified as ADEQUATE. The overall ANCAP score for Safety Assist is 71%.
All variants of the current Audi Q7 range have a 5-star ANCAP (2019) safety rating with an Adult Occupant Protection score of 92% (35.2 out of 38) and a Child Occupant Protection score of 87% (43.0 out of 49). Dual frontal, side chest-protecting airbags for front and second row outboard positions and side head-protecting airbags (curtains) for front, second and third rows are standard. For convenience you also get auto dusk sensing headlights, auto high beam, and auto rain sensing wipers.
The SQ7 is propelled by a powerful, but subdued 4.0L, V8, twin-turbocharged petrol engine with 373kW of power at 5,500rpm and 770Nm of torque between 2,000 to 4,000rpm. So should you need a little bit extra oomph the SQ7 will do the 0-100km sprint in 4.1 seconds. Although I did find there was a bit of a delay between squeezing the throttle pedal and the SQ7 picking up the pace. When you accelerate hard the noise emitted from the quad exhausts is loud enough to let you know you are driving a V8, but not rude enough to disturb your neighbours. Likewise when the contrary is required the SQ7 reverts to four-cylinder mode to reduce fuel consumption.
There are five drive modes to select from, Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual. Under Individual mode you can configure the Drive System, Suspension, Steering and Engine Sound between Comfortable, Balanced and Dynamic settings. I kept it simple and spent my week with the SQ7 in Dynamic mode because even in this most sporty setting for the SQ7 the ride was comfortable. One thing I appreciated was my drive mode selection remained even when I turned the SUV off and restarted it, rather than defaulting back to Comfort mode like many other vehicles do. Considering the fun I had in the SQ7 I was not surprised that for my week I used 15.3L/100km of fuel. The official combined fuel consumption is a bit less than this at 12.1L/100km.
The V8 engine is kept in check thanks to Audi quattro (all-wheel drive) system paired sweetly with an 8-speed tiptronic transmission. You can aggressively shift up and down through the gearbox when it is in ‘manual’ mode. The disappointing part of this fun experience is the flimsy, plastic, wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
All new Audi vehicles sold come with a 5 years/unlimited kilometres manufacturer warranty. Audi Care 24-hour roadside assistance is complimentary for the first 3 years and may be extended if you continue to have your vehicle serviced at an Audi Service Centre. The service interval for the SQ7 is one year or 15,000kms, whichever occurs first, and you can purchase a five-year service plan upfront for the SQ7 currently for $4,100. When you have your Audi scheduled servicing performed at an Audi Service Centre in the first three years of ownership, you also become eligible to join the Audi Experience program, offering a calendar of events, masterclasses and bespoke partner offers, exclusively for you.
The Audi SQ7 TFSI is a seven seat SUV with seven usable seats for your family and space for the school bags in the boot. For parents it has the relaxation and safety features that we appreciate when we are caught up in the busy daily grind. The Audi SQ7 TFSI is priced from $164,100 plus dealer delivery and on-road costs and as tested this Matador red SQ7 TFSI was $190,621 plus dealer delivery and on-road costs. You can shop for an Audi SQ7 TFSI online or visit your preferred Audi dealer for more information.
|Five seats with ISOFIX/rear tether points||No third-row air vents|
|Bang & Olufsen 3D Advanced Sound System||Plastic wheel-mounted paddle shifters|
|Performance from the V8 engine||Cruise control set using a stalk behind the steering wheel|
Photographs by Driven Women Magazine.