Sheer grunt

The ultimate Q7 has everything for the hedonist – massive size,massive torque and massive performance.

Written by Shapur Kotwal | New Delhi | Published:May 4, 2012 4:59 am

The ultimate Q7 has everything for the hedonist – massive size,massive torque and massive performance.

‘Regular cars make 12-15kgm of torque. This V12 makes 102.’ Truth be told,you don’t need more than a 3.0-litre V6 to power a car like the Q7. This 12-cylinder 500bhp diesel however is probably the ultimate indulgence. Say a big hello to the emperor of excess,the Q7 6.0 V12 TDI,a formidable beast of a car that is so far over the top,it’s almost floating up there in the ether. Before doing anything else I take a good look under the bonnet. And even though I expect a large engine to be sitting there,seeing the thing in the flesh shocks me. You have to remember,this is the Q7,an SUV,that has probably the largest nose and bonnet around. The 5934cc motor is so large that you can barely squeeze your hand into the gap between the firewall and the engine. Yet Audi claims that this is actually a compact V12.

Time to step in and see what 493bhp and,more importantly,102kgm of torque feel like. But first,a quick glance around the cabin to see what’s different,what’s special. For all practical purposes,this looks like a regular Q7. Sure there are some special bits like the alcantara and brushed aluminium trimmings,but some of the other zany extras offered with this car seem to be missing. You can order the car with a fully leather-wrapped cabin,complete with double stitching. You can cover the insides with more carbon fibre than an F1 car and,if you really want to go nuts,you can even order a rear loading bay that’s lined with wood.

I fire up the motor with the driver’s door open and pump the accelerator mildly,and there,among some diesel clatter and the sound of fans going ballistic,is something I just don’t expect – a bit of good old V12 whine. And then I’m suddenly aware of something else,this motor,once revved,smoothens out so beautifully,it’s unreal. The first few minutes behind the wheel are spent tracking the camera car,and this is difficult. By the time you hit 1750rpm this engine has attained its peak torque output of 102kgm,and that makes it feel like there is a giant spring yanking you forward.

Camera work done,I finally get a chance to use more right foot. And as expected,the shove in the back is massive. The Q7 feels like it weighs no more than 300kg,you charge at the horizon in giant explosive puffs from the motor. Keep the throttle nailed for more than three seconds,and the Q7 goes from seriously quick to warp speed in no time at all. Audi’s claimed time for this car is an eyeball popping 0-100kph in 5.5 seconds and you only need a short-ish stretch to allow this mammoth to punch up to its limited top speed of 250kph. And the further past 200 you go,the more impressive the sustained thrust gets. However,despite the smooth-running V12,and the general levels of overall sophistication,power delivery feels crude and almost savage at times. And that’s all part of its car-with-an-oversized-engine charm.

What’s less than charming,however,is the suspension. Yes,Audi has stiffened it and it feels much sportier than the regular car,but drive the Q7 harder,putting all that twist into the equation,and suddenly it feels somewhat inadequate. The chassis feels like it’s made of tin foil,the springs feel like they are made from marshmallows. Push harder still and you get bouts of radio silence from the steering wheel. Of course,the problem is that the motor is tossing this 2.6-tonne car around like a rag doll and the Q7 has to fight hard just to keep its head above water. One thing’s for sure,handling is nowhere near as good as that of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo,quite easily the world’s premier sporting SUV.

Audi says the Q7 V12 TDI is headed to India and that it will cost approximately

Rs 1 crore. You get the world’s first production V12 diesel,493bhp,and massive,massive bragging rights,most probably what some ambitious Indian customers are looking for. n

The writer is deputy editor,Autocar India.

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