2007 Audi Q7 3.6

2007 Audi Q7 3.6 2007 Audi Q7 3.6
First Drive Review

We've already sung the praises of Audi's chic Q7 several times. Most recently, the Q7 placed an impressive second (behind the Mercedes-Benz GL450) in a recent comparison between five brand-new seven-passenger luxo-utes. The Q7 4.2 is a welcome addition to a field already crowded with leather-lined land yachts, but far from exceeding its capacity for those with the kind of performance and style that characterize the Q7.

Thing is, at $50K to start, the 4.2 is expensive. Indeed, the example we tested cost well above $60K. Furthermore, the 4.2's not-so-great fuel economy (14/19 mpg city/hwy) prompted some around here to speculate that the newly released, Q7 3.6, with its 280-hp V-6 and 20-percent-lower base price ($40,620) would actually be the better choice for most buyers. Now that we've driven it both around the winding desert roads in northern Arizona as well as urban and suburban Montreal, Quebec, we know it is.

Brilliant engine

As we've found in other models, Audi's recently introduced direct-injection V-6 and V-8 engines are prolific and engaging. Compared with the 4.2-liter V-8, the 3.6 produces 20-percent less horsepower (280 hp @ 6200 rpm) and 18-percent less torque (266 lb-ft @ 2750 rpm), resulting in a predicted 0-to-60-mph time of 8.2 seconds (compared with 7.5 for the 4.2 that we tested), but worth an extra mile or two per gallon (16/20 mpg city/hwy).

While numbers never lie, in this case, just as important as actual performance numbers is the character with which this power is delivered. Thanks in no small part to the precise injection of fuel within each cylinder, throttle response for the narrow-angle V-6 is just as impressive and immediate as that of the V-8. Both engines are remarkably quiet and smooth at cruising speeds; only when pushed hard does one miss the extra power of the V-8, and at that, only if one has actually experienced the difference. And that's a difference that wanes in significance especially if one knows what he's doing on a twisty two-laner with the six-speed Tiptronic automatic in manual mode.

Unchanged from the 4.2 are the standard quattro all-wheel drive system, big four-wheel disc brakes and the standard steel suspension. A sophisticated air suspension is optional on the 3.6 Premium, as it is on all 4.2 models. The 3.6 is shod with 18- or optional 19-inch wheels-one inch smaller in diameter than those of the 4.2. More significantly, the tires of the 3.6 are between 10 and 20 mm narrower than those of its pricier brother, though we did not find the 3.6 to be sliding around inordinately on the skinnier rubber. Again, the performance benefits of the 4.2 exist only in the margins.