MAR 08th 2016

Dan Trent: Audi Q7 V12 TDI – Going Over The Top

Dan Trent

Exposure to a Performance Car review of the Lamborghini Countach 5000QV at an impressionable age set Dan Trent on course for a life-long obsession with cars. As editor of he’s got direct access to a classifieds repository of over 100,000 such vehicles to browse day in, day out. Temptation is never far away. He’s still some way off that Countach though. Dan Trent on Twitter


Any Q7 owners out there reading this I’m sorry, I just don’t get it. I can make excuses for pretty much any other SUV out there. But the Q7 just seems the most cynical of the breed, seemingly catering to the customer who walks into their local Audi dealership, looks around and then simply demands the biggest one. A prejudiced view not helped by the way some of them are driven…

Ferrari Targa Florio promo

Sure, I accept there are probably Fiestas and Micras driven by self-entitled, aggressive lane hogs and tailgaters too. They just don’t stand out as much those in Q7s.

This one would appear to score a clean house on the lazy Q7 stereotypes bingo card too. It’s white. It’s got black wheels. It’s got some nasty chrome running boards. And the advert – spelled out in capitals – even boasts about the original owner being a premiership footballer. I can picture it now on starched white gravel outside some newbuild mansion, set off by mock-Georgian pillars and stupid twirly shrubbery. And it’s powered by a diesel engine.

But I want it.

Audi Q7 Pistonheads 

Mainly because of that diesel engine. Yes, this is the monstrous 6.0-litre V12 powered Q7, that TDI engine under its bonnet unlikely ever to be topped for sheer shock and awe power. The headline numbers are 500ps/493bhp and 737lb ft of torque, enough for a 5.5-second 0-62mph sprint and limited top speed of 155mph. I’ve driven one and it is one of the more disconcerting performance cars I’ve ever experienced. The rumble at tickover is reminiscent of a cross-channel ferry. It feels about as big as one. But the acceleration as the variable vane turbos deliver that massive torque from just 1,750rpm is like that of a supercar. And, diesel or not, this is probably one of the more outrageous powerplants we’ll ever see fitted to a road going car.

The story of the Q7 V12 TDI is an interesting one too. In 2006 when it was launched the R10 TDI LMP1 car won all eight races it was entered into, including Le Mans. This winning streak was bookended by victories at the Sebring 12-hour and Laguna Seca, the significance of Audi winning races in America with a diesel-powered car giving the brand the perfect launch pad for selling TDIs to Stateside car buyers. The R10 was powered by a 5.5-litre V12 diesel with around 650bhp and 800 lb ft-plus of torque; Audi’s claim of a direct bloodline between this motor and the one in the Q7 probably merits a pinch or two of salt but the road engine gets impressively close in bare stats.

This was a twin-pronged attack, based on this demonstration that diesels could be fast and win motorsport’s biggest prizes but also that Audi’s common-rail, piezo-injected TDIs could also, ah, satisfy stringent US emissions regulations. And therefore convince Americans to buy diesels.

Audi Q7 V12

Less said about that legacy probably the better.

Besides, returning to my earlier point about the stereotypical Q7 driver, it’s unlikely many have chosen the car based on any kind of tree-hugging sensibility. This was a car chosen simply because it was the biggest, most expensive, most pointlessly fast and outrageously over-endowed car in the showroom. I can grudgingly of admire that. And I like the sheer technical and corporate chutzpah that led to it being built.

If you’re going to do it, do it properly.

Images courtesy of Audi and

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