Marginally shorter and narrower, the next Q7 retains the current model's silhouette while adopting an evolutionary design. Up front, it gains a sharper rendition of Audi's singleframe radiator grille that is inspired by the facelifted Euro-spec Q3 and angular headlights packed with LED technology. The new Q7's front end is lower than that of the current model's, a styling cue that reduces the SUV's visual mass.
The evolutionary treatment continues out back. The current Q7's wide tailgate has been carried over to the new model but it features a more chiseled design and rectangular tail lamps. Available chrome trim located at the bottom of the doors on both sides and brushed aluminum roof rails add a premium touch to the overall look.
Inside, the Q7's clean, modern-looking dashboard can be complemented by an optional fully configurable digital instrument cluster inspired by the unit used by the third-gen TT and a high-definition screen that pops up from the top of the dashboard. The screen is controlled by a touch pad located on the center console.
Buyers can order the Q7 with numerous high-tech options including two 10.1-inch 32GB Audi tablets integrated into the rear seatbacks, several versions of MMI infotainment system and in-car Wi-Fi.
The Q7 continues to offer seating for up to seven passengers in spite of its reduced dimensions. It boasts 10.4 cubic feet of trunk space with seven occupants on board, 31.4 cubic feet when carrying five passengers and a cavernous 73.3 cubic feet when second and third rows are folded flat. The cargo compartment is accessed via a standard power tailgate.
Under the Skin
The 2016 Q7 rides on Volkswagen's modular MLB platform, resulting in a curb weight that checks in at 4,398 pounds. It is up to 716 pounds lighter than the current model, a diet that promises to considerably improve fuel economy all across the board.
In Europe, the Q7 will launch with two V6 engines. The first is a 3.0-liter TDI turbodiesel unit rated at 272 horsepower and 442 lb-ft. of torque. It sends the Q7 from zero to 62 mph in 6.3 seconds while allowing it to return 41 mpg in a mixed European cycle.
The second available engine is a 3.0-liter gas-burning TFSI that makes 333 horsepower and 324 lb-ft. of torque. The TFSI lowers the 0-60 time to 6.1 seconds and returns 30 mpg in a mixed cycle. Properly equipped, the Q7 can tow over 7,700 pounds.
Additional engines will follow later in the production run. Audi has confirmed the availability of a de-tuned TDI rated at 218 horsepower and 368 lb-ft. of torque and 2.0-liter four-cylinder TFSI that makes 252 ponies and 272 lb-ft. of twist. Market-specific details are not available yet but it is safe to assume the U.S.-spec Q7 will be offered with the two TFSI units and the 272-horsepower TDI.
All engines are linked to an eight-speed tiptronic transmission that spins all four wheels via Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system.
A diesel-electric plug-in hybrid drivetrain will be added to the Q7 lineup later in the production run. It will consist of a 3.0-liter TDI V6 that works with a compact electric motor integrated into the eight-speed gearbox to produce a total of 373 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque. The Q7 e-tron quattro will return 138 mpg in a mixed cycle with both power sources running, and it will be able to drive on electricity alone for up to 34 miles. Audi has not disclosed how long it will take to charge the lithium-ion battery pack.
The Q7 will go on sale shortly after it debuts in America's Motor City. That will mark the end of a particularly long run for the current Q7, which went into production in 2006 and was lightly refreshed for the 2010 model year.
Audi is planning to launch at least two new crossovers in the coming years, which will allow the German automaker to reposition the Q7. A smaller, long-rumored Q6 SUV could help the Q7 move upscale in terms of luxury appointments, while a new Q8 due out around 2017 will slot above the Q7 to become the flagship of Audi's SUV lineup.
Live Images by Brian Williams.