Audi’s Q7 possesses a potent dark side

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Audi’s Q7 possesses a potent dark side

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Audi’s Q7 can make any woman feel like the Terminator at the wheel of Darth Vader’s spaceship. That’s the kind of empowerment this car can generate. During a test-drive I looked down on all the midget cars that constantly fall behind this nimble black behemoth and smiled as I watched male drivers turn green with envy.
The latest blockbuster in the category of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV) comes with an impressive pedigree. It won the Golden Steering Wheel award in 2005 and the Four-Wheel-Drive Cars of the Year 2006. These accolades seemed pre-ordained after a Q7 concept version premiered at the Detroit Motor Show in 2003 and received awestruck applause.
Built upon Audi’s powerful Quattro with its innovative four-wheel drive mechanics, this five-meter-long, two-meter wide and nearly two-meter high vehicle offers ample space either for cargo or up to six passengers.
The coolest first impression a Q7 owner can make is to simply start the car by pushing a button, which can be done as long as the remote-control key is in your pocket. No-key driving actually got really handy when valets took the car away for parking; he can’t go joy-driving around town while I’m enjoying dinner.
If you happen to own more than two Audis, then getting the keys mixed up can be a headache, which is what happened on the first day I was driving. However, if you do get flustered there’s always the air conditioning.
During the test-drive of the Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro, I stayed comfortably cool at 18 degrees centigrade, while two passengers of mine happily settled down at 24 and 26 in their individual “islands.” The front four passenger seats can claim an “island,” where they can control the air flow and temperature.
The passenger’s mood is enhanced by the flashes of natural light through the all-glass roof, or “open-sky system,” where a groovy feeling of driving a convertible car can be achieved with the flip of a button.
I might have been driving through the maze of buildings in Seoul, but under the amazingly azure autumn sky, my heart began to beat, as if zipping through an open terrain, somewhere far away.
The Q7 driver is never bored in the car. A decorative wooden inlay adds a classic charm to the otherwise digitally operated control board. The multifunctional screen mounted on the front panel functions as a convenient aid during parking, as it shows the view from the rear of the car.
At the push of a button, the screen switches to a radio and TV as well as a console for the DJ on the road, who gets full control of the great sound pumping out of 14 Bose speakers.
That’s not all. The screen menu can also be used to ready the SUV for an off-road adventure as the entire body pumps up a few inches higher.
Audi’s glossy catalogue for the Q7 features the Rocky Mountains and Gobi Dessert, making potential owners think of trips to the American west. But where on earth is the rough terrain of rocks, fast streams and deep snow in the middle of Seoul?
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Impulsively flooring the gas pedal, instead of slowing down, in front of speed bumps on the Gangnam road, I was close to playing a character from “Calvin and Hobbes.” My desire to release my inner space alien persuaded me to invade a short, rocky off-road that belonged to a private homeowner. Despite the car’s highly advanced air cushion and the sturdy 255/55 R 18 tires mounted on aluminum wheels, the road still felt bumpy, not at all like some luxury SUVs that guarantee a silky ride whatever the terrain.
Back on the safer, smoother road, thanks to its computerized electronic stability program, the Q7 proved its indomitable power, with a maximum speed of 216 km/h, the car can rapidly reach 100km/h at any point, even when the SUV is set on the regular automatic gear, and speeds above that are there.
The car moves easily from fast to slower speeds and back again with the slightest taps on the gas pedal. That’s how the Dynamic Shift Program of the Q7’s six-step Tiptronic works in the fast lane.
It’s a pure adrenaline rush to watch the engine’s rpm needle swing madly in the red zone near 7,000 rpm, but the Q7’s V6 turbo-diesel engine, with impressive 233 horsepower, doesn’t even growl nor purr. Instead, it whirrs, interestingly, like a robot.
To maximize the ultimate pleasure of driving this brand-new SUV, I was told, the Audi engineers had worked on invisible factors, such as the olfactory, acoustic and tactile senses experienced by both driver and passenger.
Besides blasting forward in the powerful SUV that has everything, it seems, there is only one task left for the makers of future Q7s ― to design a computer to drive the car while drivers sit back and have fun.
A deluxe Q7 3.0 TDI costs 89,500,000 won ($944,851) in Korea.


by Ines Cho
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