Sneak peek at the new 2020 version of the Audi Q7
It’s bright out. I’m squinting and contorting my body to avoid the morning sunlight, but I can still read the sign ahead: ‘private aviation terminal’. On the tarmac awaits a private jet with a course set for a remote location in rural Ireland. Having already handed over my phone in an abandoned locomotive factory in suburban Munich, it all feels rather top secret.
The reason for such clandestine manoeuvres is that flanking the plane is Audi’s all-new Sports RS range—all yet to be released, and all very hush hush. While this sneak peek into Audi’s next new thing is enticing, it’s the German manufacturer’s current new thing that awaits me on arrival in Ireland—the 2020 version of the Audi Q7.
Sporty, slick and smart, the new Q7 still measures up in its ‘midsize-everyday-familyman-drive’ class against the Land Rover Discovery, Mercedes-Benz GLE and the BMW X5—but this year comes with several key upgrades.
Significantly lighter, the 2020 model has had a subtle design facelift that includes a new horizontal front grill, new headlights, narrow rear lights and 20 inch rims that add a fresh feel to it. It’s the interior where the real difference starts to make its mark. The previous Dragon Mart quality screen that rose from the dash is no more, as the new design language is built around three huge screens covering the entire cockpit and centre console cocoon, just like the range’s flagship Q8.
Ensuring that driver-comfort is still a core pillar, the leather upholstery is perforated and the front seats can be set to cool or heat at the touch of a button, while the optional ambient lighting includes illuminated door sills and additional contour lighting on the centre tunnel console allowing you to match your evening mood. In addition, a very low noise level supports the pleasant room feeling. While the new Sport RS models are all about performance, the Q7 is about melding the multiple aspects of your life into one: style, safety and, sometimes, that little need for speed.
Eco-warriors will be pleased to know the MHVE (‘Mild Hybrid Technology’ to you and me) comes as standard in the petrol model (which we’ll get in the GCC) and comes with a 48 volt battery to power the car’s electrical system. What that means is when you decelerate it allows the car to coast for about 40 seconds, which Audi claims will reduce fuel consumption by about one litre every 100km.
While my mind occasionally wanders back to the fleet of newly minted Sport RS models, that desire dissipates as I smoothly wind my way around the idyllic country roads of the Iveragh Peninsula – air suspension comes as standard on the Q7 making for a very smooth ride. For even a covert operative has to slow down sometimes.