• Audi's latest Q7, sporting exterior and interior changes, is now available in South Africa.
• The updates include a new grille, LED headlight design, newer LED taillights and a chrome bar extending across the boot.
• The 45 TDI derivative is powered by the same three-litre turbodiesel motor as before, producing 180kW and 600Nm.
By no fault of its own the Audi Q7 has faded into the periphery as Ingolstadt launched its flagship Q8 and its rivals unveiled offerings such as the BMW X7, and Mercedes-Benz's GLS.
The Q7 needed some catching up to do, and that's exactly what Audi has done and given it an update that includes interior changes, which usually isn't done.
At over five metres long the Q7 is an imposing-looking vehicle in every way; the cosmetic changes are limited to the exterior, and the technical update is inside.
Gaze at the Q7 from every angle and you'll notice differences. From the front, there's a new grille featuring six vertical slats, LED headlights, and LED daytime driving lights in a unique pattern.
The styling update is in line with the rest of the brand's Q models and brings continuity to the model available with two optional seats in the third row.
At the rear there are new LED taillights and a chrome strip running across the width of the boot offered.
The Q7 now has the dual-touchscreen MMI system offered in the Q8 and A7. It falls in line with the brand's D-segment cars
Mercifully, Audi South Africa managed to receive cars for the local launch, but these weren't fitted with the Bang & Olufsen sound system nor Audi Connect, which meant we didn't get an opportunity to test the functionality.
The Connect system features an array of services from including connectivity via an embedded SIM, a Wi-Fi hotspot and voice control commands.
The driver can access online traffic information, point of interest search, navigation with Google Earth and live weather updates. The 'Car2X' service consists of standard safety and service features in the event of damage, breakdown or minor accidents.
Due to the fact that many people use the MyAudi application, includes remote functions that network the car with the driver's smartphone. This includes car finder, remote lock/unlocking, speed and theft alerts, says Audi.
Finally, the Q7 features the standard virtual cockpit Plus system while the head-up display is optional.
The infotainment system work in cohesion with the exterior changes to add panache and sophistication to the overall package, and it's what people would expect with pricing starting from R 1 328 500.
How does it drive?
Thankfully, the three-litre turbodiesel engine from the outgoing model is retained and it's still as creamy-smooth and powerful as ever. The quoted power figures are 183kW, and here's the clincher: 600Nm. The pulling power is crucially available from the low down in the rev range.
Audi says it'll reach 100km/h from standstill in 6.9 seconds and knock off at 225km/h but that's immaterial when this car's purpose is to transport recession-proof families in glorious comfort thanks to its standard air suspension.
Despite boasting a maximum ride height of 217mm, the test route was devoid of gravel roads. Instead, the journey consisted of the busy N2, Sir Lowry's Pass and several sweeping roads in and around Botrivier and passed a beautiful full Theewaterskloof dam.
The motor and eight-speed automatic gearbox's characteristics in dynamic mode are impressive when tackling fast, sweeping bends, and the oodles of torque low made powering up inclines a breeze.
On the slower bends, Audi says its all-wheel steering allows the rear wheels to turn as much as five degrees in the opposite direction, for better maneuverability.
The Q7 impressed with its power engine and smooth gearbox, and despite its bulk it didn't feel lofty or cumbersome to drive with a bit of gusto.
The Q7 is available with three option packages: Comfort, Black styling and S line interior.
Audi says its performance-orientated SQ7 will make its debut in January 2021 in "limited numbers". The SQ7 is powered by brand's most powerful diesel engine, a four-litre turbodiesel with 310kW and 900Nm. A claimed 0-100km/h figure of 4.8 seconds is quoted.
45 TDI quattro S line tiptronic - R1 388 500
Both models available as standard with the five-year or 100 000km Audi Freeway plan.