Audi Q7: Supercharged with subtle style

In the case of the all-new 2017 Audi Q7, it was easy to quickly check the following boxes: luxurious, comfortable, quiet, advanced, roadable, and peppy. I paused, however, when I got to the one headed “stunning styling.”

At first glance, Audi’s reborn seven-seat SUV didn’t seem to have the first-generation Q7’s design pizzazz. My initial impulse was to write it off as rather pedestrian. But as I examined the often-subtle elements of this styling exercise, I began to believe that the sum of the exterior’s parts was greater than my initial perception of the whole.

The headlight treatment is very arresting, for openers. And then there are the character lines. The first starts at the headlight, travels rearward just below the belt line, and ends at the back of the rear-side window. A second, a few inches lower, starts at the headlight and goes all the way around the car to the other headlight. A third begins about 30 inches beneath the second and travels from the back of the front-wheel arch to the front of the rear-wheel arch.

I saved the most subtle, Houdini-like line until last. This one, depressed instead of extruded like the others, and very easy to overlook, starts down from the top line halfway back on the front fender, disappears into the lower second line partway through the front door, then rises to the top line as the latter disappears beneath the rear-side window.

Got all that? There will be a quiz.

If the exterior design engendered an initial pause, the interior did not. It is a lovely marriage of elegance and utility, the former highlighted by quality leather, wood accents, and impeccable workmanship, the latter by an instrument/control/infotainment array as inviting as it is intuitive, as well as the roominess afforded by a big, three-row SUV.

The Q7 offers generous leg and shoulder room in the first and second rows of seats. The second-row legroom remains adequate even when the seats are adjusted forward to afford more room in the third row. In that three-seat second row, the end seats can be folded forward to afford easier access to the back row.

Like most third-row seats, these weren’t exactly intended for NBA bigs. Anyone above the rank of Lilliputian, second class, need not apply. Even Lilliputians, first class, must assume a fetal position when sitting back there.

Sitting in the driver’s seat of the Q7 is a win-win proposition. The seats are comfortable and supportive, visibility is good, and the instruments and controls are readily accessible. Adding to the enjoyment is a comfortable ride and an insulation scheme that leaves the Q7 rigged for silent running. Indeed, road and wind noise are minimal.

The test car’s competent handling, like its ride, was courtesy of the Q7’s standard coil-spring suspension. Drivers who intend to take the vehicle off road might want the optional air suspension, which offers 4.5 inches of ride-height adjustment.

This new, all-wheel-drive Audi gets its good oomph from a 333-horsepower V-6. If you were to contemplate the model’s full name, the Audi Q7 3.0T, you might assume the “T” stands for turbocharged. But that would be too rational. This engine is actually supercharged.

Whatever is force-feeding air to this 3-liter engine is certainly doing its job. The Q7 breaks 60 from a standing start in under six seconds, and that’s rapid transit for a vehicle this heavy. (Even with several hundred pounds of weight-shaving, largely through the use of aluminum doors and suspension components, the Q7 is still a portly 2.5 tons.)