One of the most pointless yet poignant rides that I have had the opportunity to drive with total abandon is the Audi Q7 4.2. FSI. This car is now entering its fourth year of production and it is extremely pointless because it is a huge, petrol hungry therefore politically incorrect vehicle. It is also the love of people who think that bungalow sized SUVs, which are rubbish off road, are the correct vehicle to own. It is one car which is as long as a standard Mercedes S-class but heavier (at 2250kg), wider and much taller. Anything that is bigger than an S-class is pretty pointless in some ways. And when tree loving eco friendly terrorists tell you that it burns more petrol than the entire nation of Timor Leste at one go you may be inclined to believe them due to the 350bhp 4.2liter V8 powering it.
This bulk carrier can carry 7 people as there is a 7 seater version but to say that it is a people carrier is wrong as most owners will never carry anyone other than himself, or use a driver with him seated behind. To say it is a proper off road SUV is even more pointless as no one is going to trash a S$322,000.00 vehicle in the rain forest of Pahang and that it comes with on road spec tires that have the grip of leather soles on a polished floor. We also have to note that it does not have a proper low range transfer case, but the usual Quattro All Wheel Drive system that you may also find in the A4 Quattro. It does have a ride height adjustable suspension, but that function will only be used to lower the rear so that the owner can load his or her groceries with ease.
However, while it is huge, it is like any well designed German uber-mobile. It is so easy to drive (fast) and it is easy to handle. This is partly due to having 350bhp at your feet. Anything with 350bhp at your feet is usually nimble,from a certain point of view that is. Actually this is why the Q7 is poignant. An extremely large and powerful as well as politically incorrect car is very satisfying to drive as it has the 'in your face' attitude that we sometimes yearn for in a car. Four grown men in a Q7 at the traffic lights powering off at the first sight of green is a monumental thing. The Q7 has enough torque to carry four passengers from 0 to 100km/h in about 7.5 seconds. It was like the starship Enterprise doing warp factor 6. It ain't no Millennium Falcon if you get my drift. And the Perodua Kelisa driver beside us at the lights was left thinking about how a barn could accelerate faster than he ever thought possible.
Now these four grown men did not think of heading to the first hip and cool nightspot to show off the Audi to the girls, but headed for some "teh tarik" at a "mamak" shop. Alfresco was the way to go and I found out that reversing and parking the darn thing was easy, especially with the Audi Multi Media Interface (MMI) monitor which has park assist features, a decently light but not dead in feeling steering and the ergonomic driving position of the Q7. The MMI feature is pretty straightforward and not like some 1st Generation BMW I(diot) drive.
It was after this session of tea, gossip and lots of car talk that my friend took over the driving chores for another round of trashing, er, driving. It was during this session we found out that the hard corners that I did wasn't hard enough as we were able to put the barn into a slightly four wheel drift while blasting through a sweeping corner. Surprisingly the ESP, if it was in operation, was not intrusive at all and the adjustable (at a push of a button) suspension was hard in its sports/dynamic setting but never uncomfortable. Body roll was kept in check and a barn danced like a hippo in a tutu. Bulky yet able to do some ballet. This shows you that Audi can make a barn corner extremely well.
And one more reason why its a poignant drive. The noise from that V8 FSI is superb even though people outside the car may hear more of it than the people driving it. Remember that this is the same engine in the B7 Audi RS4 and it is a marvelous engine. Any engine that can pull a barn with four grown men deserves a worthy mention. I liked driving it even better than a 1.8TFSI A4 which felt very competent but slightly clinical. But even if I had the money to plonk for one, I'd still buy a sports saloon or a coupe. Driving a Q7 is unreal, but what's the point of buying one if you really enjoy driving? There are cars like Mercedes CLS, C63 or the M5 which I'd rather buy. Or if I ever felt like buying a 2250kg car I'd save up and buy a Bentley Continental (which is a far off dream) These are real cars for enthusiastic drivers. Low center of gravity is the main reason. With low CG, means more cornering confidence and faster cornering speeds for me. The high up SUV style driving position isn't something that adds to a driver's confidence levels when he's pushing it. A barn can't handle as well as a proper sorted out car no matter what technology you throw at it due to its height. And with that you know how pointless and poignant the Audi Q7 is.