The brand-new Audi SQ7 TDI is an absolute monster of an SUV. While it doesn’t pack as much horsepower as some of its rivals, like the BMW X5 M or Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, nor is it as fast to 60 mph, it has so much torque and instantaneous response that it’s absolutely mental. The triple-charged 4.0 liter V8 TDI engine is a brute and its EPC (Electrically Powered Compressor) is essentially an electronic turbocharger, which is an industry first. So the SQ7 TDI is a very impressive beast on paper, but what’s it actually like to drive?
Well, Carfection, and it’s host Alex Goy, has driven it to find out.
At first glance, the SQ7 TDI isn’t all that different looking from the standard Audi Q7. But look closer and it’s a bit more aggressive. It’s big, brutish and imposing looking, though, and has just enough “S” bits to make it look angrier than the standard car. On the inside, it’s also pretty standard Q7, except for the flat-bottomed steering wheel and carbon fiber trim, which is to say, very good. The cabin of the SQ7 TDI is lovely, open and beautifully well-made. It’s a bit clinical, according to Goy, but a very nice place to be. We are big fans of the Q7’s interior, so we’ll probably love this as well.
But the real party piece of the Audi SQ7 TDI is that engine. The aforementioned diesel mill powering the SQ7 TDI makes 435 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque. That’s a monstrous figure, but the most impressive part about it is the lack of turbo lag. The EPC allows for instantaneous throttle response and brute-force torque. It’s an incredibly rapid thing. Sure, the BMW X5 M, Porsche Cayenne Turbo S and Range Rover SVR are all faster, but the way the SQ7 TDI delivers torque is more impressive than those cars and its throttle response is simply ridiculous. According to Goy, if there is any lag, it’s imperceptible by humans.
Another cool part of the SQ7 TDI is its active suspension components. The car rides on active air suspension that will load up one side more in corners, to keep the car cornering flat and composed. According to Goy, this works well enough, but it can’t hide the sheer size and weight of the thing, so it does roll a bit. But then again, Audi can only do so much to fight physics. However, there is another party trick for the SQ7. The same 48-volt lithium-ion battery that powers the EPC also powers the active anti-roll bars, which de-couple while traveling in a straight line, for added comfort, but couple and stiffen up through corners to provide better grip and less roll. Overall, the systems work well enough to make the Audi SQ7 TDI handle better than an SUV of its size should.
While most people won’t be tracking their SQ7s, and it really has no need for such intense handling technology, it’s nice to have and adds a bit of fun to the big monster. It’s still not the performer that the X5 M or Range Rover SVR are, but it’s focus is more on luxury, comfort and outright speed. The active suspension technology is more there to create a more stable and capable car than it is to make it a track star.
All in all, the Audi SQ7 TDI is an impressive thing and an SUV that would be very cool to have sitting in your driveway. It is very expensive, but it can almost kill two birds with one stone. Want an Audi S4 but also need a big SUV to haul kids and stuff around in? The Audi SQ7 TDI kind of fits both bills with one car.