Audi’s latest entry into the crazy world of performance SUVs is the Audi SQ7 TDI, and it’s set to be one of the most impressive SUVs on the market. The big news for the SQ7 TDI is the use of an EPC (Electrically Powered Compressor), which acts as a sort of electric turbocharger, for lack of a better term. Powered by a 48-volt lithium-ion battery, it’s capable of spooling from 0-70,000 rpm in a quarter of a second, providing low-end boost to the engine without the need of exhaust gasses. This provides instantaneous thrust while the other two traditional turbochargers spool and completely reduces turbo lag. It’s the first production car in history to use such a system. So what’s it actually like to drive?
Well, Autocar has given it a test drive to find out.
In a car with an essentially triple-turbocharged V8 diesel, you’d think the Audi SQ7 is basically all about the engine. And what an engine it is. It’s buttery smooth and immensely powerful, being able to shuffle the Audi SQ7 TDI from 0-60 mph far quicker than an SUV of its size and luxury should be able to. Audi claims 4.9 seconds to 60 mph, but considering Audi usually underrating its performance numbers, we think it’ll be quicker than that. But it’s more than just sheer power, as the TDI engine is capable of being whisper quiet and turbine smooth. It’s supposedly a great power plant.
However, it has far more tricks up its sleeve than just the engine. That same 48-volt battery, mounted in the trunk, that powers the EPC also powers an electronically-controlled active anti-roll bars, similar to the Bentley Bentayga’s (which is built on the same platform as the Q7). Those active anti-roll bars are capable of slackening up when driving in a straight line, to provide better comfort and ride quality, as well as better wheel articulation, and can tighten up through corners. This gives the SQ7 a best-of-both-worlds kind of ride quality that’s hard to match anywhere else.
On the road, the ride is said to be supple and comfortable, making it easy to eat up miles in. But when you throw it through some twisty bends, the SQ7 TDI is more capable that you might expect. It’s not necessarily and Audi RS5 through corners, but it’s far more fun than an SUV has the right to be. The steering is accurate and direct, if a little vague, apparently, but it probably suits the car well enough.
The Audi SQ7 TDI isn’t going to be a very affordable vehicle, as it costs around 89,000 euros. Adjusted for US prices and that becomes $86,000. While that isn’t cheap, it’s actually far cheaper than all of the other performance SUVs in its class, including the BMW X5 M and Porsche Cayenne Turbo S. This makes the SQ7 TDI a fantastic performance value in its segment. It’s also supremely comfortable, more efficient than any other performance SUV and has, in our opinion, the nicest cabin. So if anyone is looking for a big, immensely powerful SUV that can be both performance car and grand-tourer, the Audi SQ7 TDI isn’t a bad option.