ROAD TEST

MOUNTAIN RANGE

The intelligent, efficient hybrid-drive technology at the heart of Audi’s all-new Q7 e-tron is engineered to take you further, no matter how far-flung or remote your destination might be


WRITER Katie Johnstone

PHOTOGRAPHER Alex Shore

When you test-drive a new car, there is always a moment when you fully understand what the car is really like. You could say it’s the point where the car reveals its true character to you. And sometimes that revelation can even be a bit of a surprise.

With Audi’s all-new Q7 e-tron, that moment occurs for me about two hours after I pick up four colleagues from Glasgow Airport, and pack up the plug-in hybrid SUV with all the kit required for a two-day photoshoot.

It’s late at night, and I’m driving through the Scottish Highlands. Despite the constant twists and turns of the road, this large and fully laden SUV feels engaging, eager, agile and responsive. With the standard-fit Audi drive select system set to dynamic mode, each small turn of the steering wheel brings an immediate and precise response.

150 MINUTES

USING A 3.6KW SOURCE, THE BATTERY CAN BE CHARGED IN AROUND 2.5
HOURS, AND THE PROCESS MONITORED
VIA AUDI’S SMARTPHONE APP

The same is true of the eight-speed tiptronic transmission every time I flex my fingers to ease the steering column-mounted gearshift paddles towards me to change gear. Here is a plug-in hybrid vehicle that is capable of delivering a combined fuel economy of up to 148.7mpg* while producing emissions as low as 50g/km CO2*. And yet driving the Q7
e-tron is genuinely invigorating.

Surprised? Don’t be. From the outset of Audi’s e-tron programme in 2009, the company promised that each model would help establish a path to more sustainable mobility and be exhilarating to drive. The all-new Q7 e-tron is no exception.

The five-seat SUV is the first Audi e-tron model to feature quattro all-wheel drive, ensuring optimum levels of grip and traction in all weather. It is the perfect system for delivering such phenomenal driving force to the road.

The 3.0 TDI V6 engine musters 600Nm, while the electric motor is capable of boosting that by a further 350Nm. This exceptional pulling power enables the SUV to take the steepest of hills effortlessly.

Our destination is Cruachan Power Station near Oban. This remarkably engineered pumped-storage hydroelectric facility is hidden inside a mountain, and driving the Q7 e-tron in silent electric mode through the access tunnel is decidedly eerie.

The SUV’s 17.3kWh lithium-ion battery offers an electric range of up to 34 miles. I put this to the test again on the journey home after I drop my colleagues at the airport, gliding across Glasgow in electric mode. The next day I finish my 900-mile trip, concluding that the Q7 e-tron is as impressive on motorways as it is on mountain passes and in city centres.

AUDI Q7 E-TRON

Price £66,010 OTR
Engine 3.0 TDI 258PS
Transmission eight-speed tiptronic
Drivetrain quattro all-wheel drive
0-62mph 6.2 seconds
Top speed 143mph
Efficiency 

148.7mpg combined*,

50g/km CO2*

*Standard EU test figure for comparative purposes and may not reflect real driving results. With 20-inch wheels

83mph

IN ELECTRIC MODE THE Q7 E-TRON’S
TOP SPEED IS 83MPH – MORE THAN
SUFFICIENT FOR MOTORWAY DRIVING

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