Interested in an Audi SQ7?
    Pros
    • Who doesn't love a V8
    • Impressive interior technology
    • Solid space in second row
    Cons
    • Third row tight alongside newer rivals
    • It's a thirsty ol' bus
    • Feeling its age in places
    Specs
    12.1L
    373kW
    278g
    5 Star

    The Audi SQ7 is a bit of a dinosaur in 2023, but it’s a loveable one.

    Not only is the base Q7 itself now eight years old, the flagship SQ7 hasn’t fallen victim to downsizing or hybridisation.

    Having launched with a tricky turbo-diesel engine, this leather-lined family bus now features a turbocharged petrol V8. You don’t even get one of those in some proper Audi RS cars.

    There’s more to this car than its engine, though – even at eight years old, the hottest Q7 is a compelling option.

    How does the Audi SQ7 compare?
    View a detailed breakdown of the Audi SQ7 against similarly sized vehicles.

    How much does the Audi SQ7 TFSI cost?

    The SQ7 TFSI wears a sticker price of $166,400 before on-road costs, making it $37,000 more expensive than the 55 TFSI quattro petrol sitting below it in the range.

    That’s not a small chunk of money, although the SQ7 does pack significantly more power, torque, and kit than the 55 TFSI.

    In the context of its rivals, the SQ7 goes head-to-head with the BMW X5 M60i ($172,900) and the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 ($181,400).

    While the AMG offers an optional third row of seating, the hi-po X5 doesn’t offer three rows – if it’s a Bavarian performance seven-seater you want you’ll need to stretch to the BMW X7 M60i ($197,900).

    What is the Audi SQ7 TFSI like on the inside?

    The SQ7 feels like a quality item from the second you drag its vault-like door shut.

    It takes a firm tug, and shuts with a reassuringly dull thud. Once you’re in, you’re sat in bigger versions of the fixed headrest sports seats that feature on everything from the S3 to the RS6.

    They offer a near-perfect blend of comfort and support, with generous bolsters to hold you in place in the corners, and generous padding to keep you fresh on long drives.

    The quilted-effect stitching is a nice touch, as is the massage feature included as part of the Sensory Pack. Should they really be optional on a $170,000 luxury SUV, though?

    They’re available in black, red, and grey; the grey on our tester was looking a bit faded on its bolsters after ~7500km on the media fleet. It’s pretty in contrast with the Navarra Blue of our tester, but we’d be opting for one of the alternatives.

    Infotainment technology is usually where cars around the Q7’s age start to look old, but a heavy mid-life overhaul means the SQ7 still feels up-to-date when you start swiping and scrolling.

    The main touchscreen has slick graphics and responds quickly to inputs, and the fact Audi backs each button press with a satisfying haptic click makes it easy to use the system without taking your eyes off the road. Its wireless CarPlay was more prone to dropouts than some newer systems, however.

    As for the bottom screen? It’s the best touch-based climate control setup I’ve used, but it isn’t without its quirks.

    There’s spare slots at the top of the display, but for some reason Audi hasn’t seen fit to put the full spread of controls up there – so you still need to use a sub-menu to adjust your massage seating.

    Audi’s digital instruments remain the best in the business. They’re crystal clear, and offer all the information you could possibly need without ever being overwhelming.

    Storage space is solid up front. There are two cupholders beneath a flip-up lid and deep door pockets, although the underarm bin is quite small, and is eaten up by the wireless phone charger.

    Space is the second row is solid. Each of the seats slides and reclines individually, which allows for impressive flexibility, and in their rearmost position there’s plenty of legroom for tall teenagers or adults behind a regular-sized driver.

    The boxy roofline affords excellent headroom back there, even with the panoramic sunroof fitted to our tester, and the broad bench features not only three top-tether points, but three ISOFIX points for child seats.

    That’s a win for parents, as is the fact the bulky doors open nice and wide. That makes it easy to load child seats, or children, into the rear seats.

    The rear air vents are backed by their own temperature and fan speed controls, along with heating for the outboard seats.

    Access to the third row is simple enough, courtesy of the tumble-and-fold second row. Once back there, space is tight for anyone other than children or shorter adults.

    Headroom is again decent, but legroom – even with the second row slid forward – is tight, and there’s hardly any toe room. You also don’t get air vents in the rearmost seats, which won’t win too many fans on a hot Australian summer day.

    When not in use, the sixth and seventh seats (both with top-tether points), can be folded flat to open up 740L of luggage space in five-seat form. There’s space for a massive dog back there; owners will want to make sure they have pet insurance regardless.

    Drop the second row and there’s a massive 2050L on offer, while there’s a decent 295L behind the third row when all seats are in use.

    What’s under the bonnet?

    Gone is the turbo-diesel engine from the SQ7, replaced by a 4.0-litre turbocharged petrol V8 instead.

    It pumps out 373kW of power and 770Nm of torque, sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The quattro system features a self-locking central differential, and has a 60:40 rear:front torque split by default.

    Depending on the road conditions, it can send up to 70 per cent of the engine’s torque to the front axle, and 85 per cent to the rear axle.

    Claimed fuel economy is 12.1 litres per 100km, and the claimed 100km/h sprint time is a sports car-worrying 4.1 seconds. 95 RON premium unleaded fuel is required, and the fuel tank holds 85 litres.

    How does the Audi SQ7 TFSI drive?

    Prod the start button and the SQ7 fires with a velvety growl that winks subtly at the power on offer.

    Yes, the old turbo-diesel engine was technically more interesting, but there’s something lovely about a petrol V8.

    The SQ7 is big beast, and the control weights don’t try too hard to hide that fact. The steering is meaty at low speeds, the throttle requires a firm stab to get the engine singing, and the way it thuds over sharp-edged bumps gives you the sense it will beat the road into submission rather than trying to float over it.

    That’s not to say it’s a blunt instrument, though. Audi hasn’t tried to turn the SQ7 into something it isn’t – maybe it hasn’t been able to, given the car’s age – but there’s something very satisfying about driving an unabashed bruiser. Put your foot down and this big ol’ bus can really shift, too.

    It packs bags of torque down low in the rev range, pulling hard from 2000rpm, and really rips around to the redline when you keep your foot in, backed by a very polished, very German V8 bark. The automatic transmission is smooth and smart on the move, kicking down decisively when you delve deep into the throttle’s travel and ripping off quick upshifts with a satisfying crackle.

    The torque converter can be a bit jerky off the mark, however, when the start/stop system is active. The engine fires, it engages, and the car lurches forward awkwardly if you don’t adopt a very gentle touch on the throttle.

    If there’s a chink in the car’s armour around town it’s the ride, which ranges from very nice (over speed bumps, or patchy tarmac) to very harsh (over sharp-edged bumps or potholes). For all the adaptive air suspension cleverness that’s going on, there’s no hiding the fact this is a 2000kg SUV riding on big wheels wrapped in skinny tyres.

    Up the speed and the SQ7 settles down nicely. It’s a very natural cruiser, with a rock solid feeling at the legal limit in Australia and bags of torque in reserve when you need to blast past slower traffic.

    Refinement is excellent. There’s a hint more road noise on coarse-chip surfaces in the SQ7 than lesser models due to its wider, more performance-oriented tyres, but the engine disappears into the background, and there’s no wind noise from the pillars or mirrors.

    Audi has also done an excellent job calibrating its active driver assistance systems, too.

    The adaptive cruise control smartly maintains a gap to the car in front, and the lane-keeping assist only intervenes when required – it’s also easy to turn off, because it’s controlled using a button on the end of the wiper stalk. No silly touch buttons and no sub-menus here.

    Slung into a bend, the SQ7 handles as you’d expect of a very big car wearing the warm-but-not-hot S badge.

    It was actually a bit of a pioneer back in the day, debuting the 48V-driven active anti-roll bars that have proliferated through the Volkswagen Group. In 2023 though it feels quite heavy, and never shrinks in the way a BMW X5 M50i does.

    What do you get?

    SQ7 TFSI highlights:

    • 22-inch alloy wheels
    • S front and rear bumpers, grille, side sills and rear tailgate spoiler
    • Red brake calipers
    • Aluminium-look side mirrors
    • Matrix LED with laser headlights and dynamic indicators
    • Rain-sensing window wipers
    • Panoramic sunroof
    • Privacy glass
    • Heated, folding side mirrors
    • Power-assisted door closure
    • Roof rails (SQ7 only)
    • All-wheel steering
    • Adaptive air suspension
    • Valcona leather upholstery, diamond patterned contrasting stitching
    • Heated, electrically adjustable S sport front seats incl. 4-way lumbar
    • Driver seat memory (SQ8 only)
    • Interior ambient lighting
    • Aluminium dash inlay
    • 10.1-inch MMI touchscreen infotainment system
    • 8.6-inch secondary touchscreen
    • 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit digital instrument cluster
    • Satellite navigation
    • Wired, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
    • DAB+ digital radio
    • 17-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system
    • Head-up display
    • 4-zone climate control
    • Heated steering wheel

    Options

    Dynamic Package:

    • Quattro sport differential
    • Active roll stabilisaton

    Sensory Package:

    • 23-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system
    • Black Alcantara headliner
    • Ventilated front seats incl. massage function
    • Heated outboard rear seats (SQ7 only)
    • Leather centre console, door armrests, dashboard, door rails
    • Air ioniser
    • Two perfume scents

    Is the Audi SQ7 TFSI safe?

    The Audi SQ7 wears a five-star ANCAP safety rating based on testing of the regular Q7 in 2019.

    It scored 92 per cent in adult occupant protection, 87 per cent in child occupant protection, 71 per cent in vulnerable road user protection, and 71 per cent in safety assist.

    Standard safety equipment includes:

    • Front, front side, side and curtain airbags
    • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
      • Vehicle, Pedestrian detection
      • Reverse AEB
    • Adaptive cruise control with stop & go
    • Traffic jam assist
    • Lane keep assist
    • Blind-spot assist
    • Rear-cross traffic assist
    • Surround-view cameras
    • Tyre pressure monitor
    • Seat belt reminders for all seats

    How much does the Audi SQ7 TFSI cost to run?

    The SQ7 is backed by a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty.

    A five-year prepaid service package is $4100, and maintenance is required every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres.

    CarExpert’s Take on the Audi SQ7 TFSI

    The SQ7 is showing its age in places, but it still has plenty to offer.

    In some ways, it sits in a strange space. It looks sporty and features a petrol V8, but it’s not a wannabe sports car in the mould of a BMW X5 M Competition or Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S – but it’s also not entirely practical either, given the regular Q7 50 TDI and 55 TFSI versions aren’t exactly short of grunt.

    Despite that, the warm-but-not-hot recipe of the SQ7 makes for a lovely, liveable SUV in the real world.

    The combination of a powerful, sonorous petrol engine and a (mostly) comfortable, refined drive make it a lovely car to cruise around in, and when you do feel like getting a move on there’s plenty of grunt under your right foot, along with enough poise to hide its considerable heft.

    Sometimes, walking with dinosaurs doesn’t need to be scary.

    Click the images for the full gallery

    MORE: Everything Audi SQ7

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

    8.1
    Overall Rating

    Cost of Ownership7.5
    Ride Comfort7.5
    Safety8.7
    Fit for Purpose8.5
    Handling Dynamics8
    Interior Practicality and Space8
    Fuel Efficiency7
    Value for Money8.5
    Performance8.5
    Technology Infotainment8.5
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