SINCE the Q7 signalled Audi’s entry onto the luxury SUV scene back in 2006, the German brand has moved swiftly towards dominating the genre.
The prestige manufacturer now boasts four models, all launched in the past decade, and has also confirmed that there will be Q4 and Q8 versions arriving in the not too distant future.
If you take the latest Q7, and in particular its flagship SQ7 model, as a marker then the mind boggles at just how powerful and spacious the Q8 will turn out to be.
The SQ7 is pure and simply a monster, with a 4.0-litre V8 twin turbo-diesel engine beneath the bonnet pumping out a thunderous 435PS of wallop.
It can erupt from stationary to 62mph in a fleeting 4.9 seconds, has a top speed of an electronically limited 155mph and an immense amount of torque – 900Nm to be exact.
And this is from a seven-seater that Audi claims can return 39.2 miles per gallon on the Combined cycle.
The SQ7 doesn’t come cheap. With quattro all-wheel drive and eight-speed auto transmission with Tiptronic as standard it costs from £72,320.
Add the sort of options on the press exercise model, such as leather S Sport seats at £1,000, 21-inch twin-spoke alloys (also £1,000), a night vision set-up for £2,000 and a BOSE 3D sound system at £1,100, to the mix and you’re en route to nudging £85,000.
It’s a frightening amount of loot for a frighteningly good vehicle – one that looks menacing from the front and is kitted out to thrill on the inner.
Launch the Audi into action and the senses tune in to the roar from the active sound exhaust system as you lift off.
The acceleration is instant in a car that now has an electric powered compressor to eliminate turbo lag and ensure a seamless journey through the rev range.
And the super-SUV is also the first Audi model to incorporate electromechanical active roll stabilisation, enabling the adaptive S air suspension to iron out challenging roads even more effectively so that the V8 engine can be exploited to the full.
The gearbox can be operated in automatic modes D and S, by tapping on the flat selector lever on centre tunnel or by using the steering wheel paddles.
A drive through Cotswold lanes and on motorways highlighted the SQ7’s comfort, poise and agility. It’s big but doesn’t feel it, supremely comfortable and beautifully engineered.
If you need to shift a large family there’s ample space for five adults and two children, but if you would rather drop down the third row seats it just takes the quick press of a button in the boot.
That leaves a maximum 1,890 litres of space, which in old money is a pretty cavernous load area.
Of course there are plenty of touches that make the model stand out, like the red brake callipers, bespoke badging, brushed metal dashboard inserts and that heavy flat-bottomed steering wheel.
You also get the ‘Audi virtual cockpit’ digital instrument cluster with a 12.3 inch high-res LCD display that the driver can configure ahead of the steering wheel.
And there are 24, largely redeveloped, driver assistance systems while safety features include the likes of park assist, cross traffic assist rear, collision avoidance assist as well as the Audi pre sense systems.
At speeds up to 40mph the standard solution Audi pre sense city monitors the area in front of the SQ7 TDI for other vehicles and pedestrians, braking if necessary.
As the behemoth of the Q7 range, the SQ7 TDI is the most powerful and fastest diesel SUV on the market – it scales new heights as a luxury SUV. Deep pockets are essential though.