For auto makers, the problem with pulling the silk off a brand new model at an auto show like Detroit, is that the impact tends to get diluted among all the other new car reveals.
Which is why Audi has just given us a sneak-peak of its all-new Q7 big-boy SUV ahead of its official unveiling in Motown next month.
Smart move. The big Q7 is vitally important as a profit-earner for Audi here in the States. And with the current model having been around since 2006 – a lifetime in car years – it needs to get the big Q back on to SUV buyers’ radar.
The big news about this new Q7 is that its Jenny Craig diet has paid off. It has shed a whopping 716 pounds compared to the current version. Audi now claims that it’ll be the lightest in its class, tipping the scales at under 4,400 pounds.
The new Q will also make some huge leaps technology-wise. The new model line-up is going to feature the world’s first plug-in diesel hybrid – the E-tron Quattro – capable of an impressive 138mpg and 35 miles on a fully-juiced battery.
Also new on the power front is that this full-size sport-ute will be offered in the U.S. with a seemingly minuscule 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, good for a meager 252-horsepower. That’s a major shift from the current base engine, a 280-horse 3.0-liter V6.
But also look for a 3.0-liter turbo V6 packing 333-hp and a 3.0-liter turbo-diesel with 272-hp. They’ll be coupled to a carry-over eight-speed Tiptronic automatic and Quattro permanent all-wheel drive.
Sizewise, this new Q7 is actually shorter and narrower than its predecessor, though Audi claims there’s actually more interior space.
What’s sightly disappointing, to me, is the design of this new Q7. I love the current model with its elegant, distinctive front end and rounded, high-waisted lines. To me it oozed style, class and gravitas, making it a serious alternative to a Range Rover or Mercedes GL.
This new Q looks to me like some station wagon on steroids with a butt-ugly grille and front end that could have come off some Chinese Q7 knock-off.
Maybe that was the intention; to make it look more Chinese so as to appeal to this booming market.
But inside, the traditional Audi style and class remains. The new cabin looks fabulous and is crammed with some new cool, high-tech toys. Like the new screen that levitates from the top of the dash, and the two 10-inch Wi-fi enabled tablets for the rear seat passengers.
There’s plenty of advanced new safety features too. Like the Exit Warning System that that warns drivers of an approaching vehicle or cyclist before they open the door. There’s also a new active cruise control system with traffic-jam-assist that essentially lets you take your hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals in stop-start traffic.
This new Q7 goes into production next summer though there’s no official word on when it will land here in the U.S. and what the pricing will be.
But with the current line up ranging from $48,000 to $62,000, don’t expect pricing to stray too far from those numbers.