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Driven: Entry level 160kW Audi Q7 checks in

Q and A: The new most affordable 160kW 3.0 TDI is expected to make up about 20-30 per cent of overall Q7 volume, according to Audi Australia.

Base 160kW Audi Q7 3.0 TDI arrives but 2WD and petrol models unlikely


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16 Mar 2016

AUDI has expanded its Q7 range with the arrival of an entry level 160kW 3.0 TDI this week, but the car-maker says the addition of a petrol-powered variant or a base two-wheel-drive version is unlikely, for now.

Arriving in showrooms this month, the $96,300 plus on-road costs 160kW 3.0 TDI is $7600 cheaper than the $103,900 200kW version that went on sale in September last year.

The new variant sits somewhere between the 170kW BMW X5 xDrive20d ($91,200) and Mercedes’ 150kW AWD GLE250d ($86,900) and the 190kW X5 xDrive30d ($102,900) and the 190kW GLE350d ($104,900).

Power comes from a de-tuned version of the 3.0-litre engine that arrived in the initial Q7 variant last year, this time delivering 160kW at 3250-4750rpm and 500Nm from 1250-3000rpm, a reduction of 200kW and 600Nm.

The Q7 range will expand further in the next six-to-12 months with the arrival of the stonking 320kW/900Nm diesel V8-powered SQ7 performance offering that was confirmed earlier this month as well as the frugal plug-in hybrid e-tron.

Other variants available elsewhere in the world include petrol power and a two-wheel drive entry level version, but none are on the cards, for now at least.

“I think at the moment we are happy with the range, obviously we do intend to bring e-tron and SQ7,” Audi Australia senior product communications executive Shaun Cleary said regarding a base two-wheel drive model.

“I don’t know if we are specifically looking at a model like that. But we took a good look at what options were available initially.

“Obviously we never say never, but at the moment any ‘Q’ model is quite popular with the quattro all-wheel-drive system just within our customer base.

Particularly that top-end Q7 level.”

As for a petrol variant, Audi Australia senior product planning executive Matthew Dale pointed out that the first-generation Q7 launched with an all-petrol line-up but as customer demand shifted, it ended its life-cycle last year as a diesel-only offering.

“TDI is very popular for us. With a nine-year model life-cycle in the previous car, diesel far outweighed petrol. It was literally 80 per cent of volume TDI versus TSI when we had both available.”

Mr Dale said having a sub-$100,000 offering brings more buyers to the model that may not be looking for high levels of standard specification.

“It certainly provides the opportunity to have a car that is priced in a way with a certain level of equipment where customers don’t necessarily want the high-end specification 200kW for their lifestyle or requirements,” he said at the media launch in Queensland.

“It provides customers with the opportunity to have a car at a price point that ticks all the boxes such as seven seats as standard and works in with their lifestyle.”

Mr Dale said the car-maker was expecting the 200kW version to be the top-selling variant, given its recent popularity with buyers, but predicted strong take-up of the 160kW Q7.

“We envisage the split to be biased towards the 200kW. We sold over 700 units in two months (in 2016) so the 200kW has proven to be quite popular with the customer base.

“Given there is a new entry point now we would probably see … 20-30 per cent (for 160kW) – that is kind of a finger in the air at the moment. But I could definitely say it would lean towards 200kW.”

Losing 30kW/100Nm has slowed the Q7 down slightly, with a 0-100km/h dash time of 7.3 seconds, 0.8s slower than the 200kW Q7, but fuel economy has improved marginally to 5.8 litres per 100km (down by 0.1L) and CO2 emissions have dropped by 3g/km to 150g/km.

Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system is standard fare driven via an all-new eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission, while an all-wheel steering system is offered as a $2775 option.

Towing capacity remains the same at 3500kg, as does the overall weight at 2135kg.

Under the skin the 160kW carries the same mechanicals as the 200kW, including a five-link suspension set-up at the front and rear – adaptive air suspension system is a $4950 option – electromechanical power steering and Audi drive select dynamic handling system.

It is built using the Volkswagen Group MLBevo platform that underpins the new A4, the next-gen A8 and Bentley’s Bentayga and it is made up of 41 per cent aluminium, bringing weight down by 241kg over the old Q7.

Standard gear includes a 7.0-inch high-resolution colour display with a driver information system, MMI navigation plus with an 8.0-inch retractable display, DAB+ digital radio, idle-stop, power front seats with driver’s memory, Xenon plus headlights with high beam assist and reversing camera with parking system plus and 19-inch five-spoke alloy wheels.

Safety and driver assistance gear such as a tyre pressure monitoring system, cruise control with a speed limiter, hill hold assist, hill descent control, Audi pre sense city and Audi side assist with pre sense rear, an exit warning that is designed to avoid 'dooring' cyclists, pedestrians or other cars when exiting, and a rear cross-traffic alert are all standard.

Being the new entry point, the 160kW Q7 loses some of the features that are standard in the 200kW variant, including its 12.3-inch screen and ‘cricket’ leather upholstery, while 360-degree cameras and park assist are only available as part of the $1300 Parking Assistance Package.

There are other packages including three versions of the S line, starting from $8760 that brings sporty exterior styling flourishes, as well as the $4075 Assistance Package that includes adaptive cruise control with Audi pre sense front, active lane assist, traffic jam assist, collision avoidance technology and turn assist.

As is typical for Audi, the options list is extensive and ranges from $750 for the Audi connect in-car WiFi system to the $5500 Matrix LED headlights and the Bang & Olufsen 23-speaker 3D advanced sound system for $14,850.

Buyers with no need for seven seats can order a five-seat Q7 as a no-cost option.

2016 Audi Q7 pricing*
Q7 3.0 TDI 160kW (a)$96,300
Q7 3.0 TDI 200kW (a)$103,900
*Excludes on-road costs

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