What It Is: The second generation of the Audi Q7 full-size crossover. With three-row seating and a large cargo area, it’s a full-size SUV by every standard except North America's. The next Q7's angular, metallic grille is directly inspired by the Crosslane concept the brand debuted at last year’s Paris auto show. The A8-inspired rectangular headlights will be offered in LED and Matrix LED forms, although the latter—as is the case with the A8—won’t be available in the U.S. A pronounced shoulder line gives the Q7 an especially wide and muscular stance, its bold and powerful appearance only heightened by wheel options measuring from 18- to 21 inches in diameter.
Platform: We’re told by an Audi source that the Q7 will drop a whopping 700 pounds versus the existing model (although we’ll wait until we weigh one to get really excited). The most recent V-6–powered model we tested tipped the scales at 5350 pounds. Much of the weight savings can be attributed to the switch from the crossover’s current off-road-oriented platform to Audi’s car-based MLB modular-longitudinal architecture. The current Q7 was never offered with a low-range transfer case, and thus its off-road capabilities were always limited. As such, there won’t be any disadvantages in the switch to the MLB structure; in fact, it will allow Audi to offer a plethora of comfort and assistance systems previously unavailable in the vehicle.
Powertrains: The engine selection has not been finalized, but we can confirm that all Q7 models will come with an eight-speed torque-converter automatic and Quattro all-wheel drive. We expect to see a continuation of the supercharged 3.0-liter V-6 as well as the 3.0-liter V-6 TDI, and the twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 found in a number of VW Group offerings should be available, too. We understand Audi will offer two plug-in hybrid variants with “e-tron” badging: one pairing an electric motor with the supercharged V-6 and another pairing the electric powerplant with the V-6 TDI. The U.S. market will only receive the gasoline-drinking e-tron.
Competition: BMW X5, Land Rover Range Rover Sport, Mercedes-Benz M-class, Porsche Cayenne.
Estimated Arrival and Price: The next-generation Audi Q7 will be unveiled next year and come to market as a 2015 model. We expect that base prices will nudge slightly northward from the current model’s $47,695 sticker.
Thanks to: Car and Driver