• May 27th 2010 at 2:58PM
  • 43
2011 Audi Q7 - Click above for high-res image gallery

If there's to be a singular automotive theme guiding us into this second decade of the 21st century, it's downsizing. If not in dimensions, then in displacement. Automakers, forced to adhere to higher government-mandated fuel economy standards and lower CO2 emissions, are beginning to collectively reduce engine size while attempting to maintain the thrust consumers demand.

The newest posterchild for this movement comes in an unlikely wrapper: the 2011 Audi Q7. Packing the same supercharged 3.0-liter V6 found in the S4 sports sedan, Audi bids adieu (or is that Auf Wiedersehen?) to the 3.6-liter V6 and 4.2-liter V8 for the 2011 model year and brings with it the 2011 A8's eight-speed automatic transmission. We tackled the congested highways and byways in and around Ingolstadt to see if the revised Q7 has the goods to placate both bureaucrats and buyers, while taking a deeper look into Audi's new powertrain strategy. Click through to the jump to see if we can make sense of it all.

Photos by Damon Lavrinc / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

The supercharged 3.0-liter TFSI V6 fitted to the aforementioned S4, as well as the midsize A6, is quickly becoming Audi's low displacement replacement for its wonderful but aging 4.2-liter V8. Nestled between the banks of the 90-degree V6 sits a Roots-type, twin-scroll blower with a rather modest capacity of two liters, huffing a maximum of 11.6 psi into the lightweight aluminum block and delivering two different power figures depending on spec.

In low-output guise, 272 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque is available from 2,250 rpm to 4,750 rpm, with a claimed 0-62 mph time of 7.9 seconds. The high-output version brings 333 hp and 325 lb-ft to the party (beginning at 2,250 rpm), reducing the 62 mph sprint to 6.9 seconds. The latter configuration is down some 17 hp from the outgoing 4.2-liter V8, yet it delivers the same amount of torque – something that matters more when motivating a massive slab of SUV. As you'd expect, fuel consumption has been reduced across the board, with Audi claiming a reduction of 15.7 percent in the low-output Q7 and 11.5 percent in high-output form when compared to the ol' V8. The result is an estimated EU fuel economy rating of around 21 mpg on the highway – something we're keen to test in the real world when the revised Q7 goes on sale this summer.

For our money, the one engine, two outputs strategy is a smart move by Audi, allowing the automaker to essentially offer identical engines (tuners take note: power is modified electronically) to suit different consumer demands for both power and price. With the exception of "Supercharged" badging on the fenders of the high-output 3.0T S Line model, by all outward appearances, the two 'utes are nearly indistinguishable and the overall cost of development has been reduced so Audi can redirect its resources towards powertrain enhancements – namely its new eight-speed auto 'box.

With a gear ratio spread of 7.25:1 and a narrower torque converter that saves over 24 pounds compared to the six-speed automatic, Audi claims that fuel consumption has been reduced by four percent through the use of the new transmission alone. Included in the gearbox is a new oil cooler that gets warmed up by the engine's cooling system, boosting the tranny's temperature from a cold start and reducing drag in the transmission that much quicker.

The net result of all these powertrain modifications isn't easy to detect when slogging through the city, but when the road opens up and traffic begins to dissipate, the cohesion of the engine/tranny combo shines through. The low-output V6 is just that – less – but it proved adequate enough to get us up to triple-digit speeds on the autobahn with minimal fuss. Mid-range torque is predictably more pronounced compared to the 3.6-liter V6, allowing us to simply stomp on the long pedal and let the eight-speed auto quickly jump from gear-to-gear, keeping the blown six in the meat of its power band. We'd avoid calling the low-output version "quick" by any means, but assuming this is the combination Audi claims is good for 20+ mpg on the highway, it could get consumers in the door and out for a test drive.

But anyone that drives the low- and high-output versions back-to-back is sure to option up for the higher-spec trim, particularly if Audi equips the uprated model with some of its most popular options.

The 333-hp version is simply superior – not just because it's packing more power (yes, we like power), but because the eight-speed gearbox feels more at home with the additional grunt. Some of the hunt-and-peck gear selection we experienced on the low-output model didn't seem to manifest itself on the uprated variant. The gearbox still reaches for eighth when cruising along at highway speeds, but whereas the 272-hp mill would require the 'box to shift down from the top ratio to fourth for a mid-speed pass, the higher-output model would simply grab fifth, run up to the red and then snatch sixth without drama.

For both Audi and Q7 owners, it's a win-win. Audi saves on development costs and consumers save at the pump. Couple that with the increased efficiency of the new drivetrain combo, an overall reduction in emissions and fuel consumption, and everyone has something to crow about. Whether luxury SUV customers are willing to trade in the prestige of a V8 for an (admittedly misleading) 3.0T badge remains to be seen, but as a means of keeping the SUV relevant in this cleaner, greener climate, the 2011 Q7 is yet another step in the right direction.

Photos by Damon Lavrinc / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'll take andEscalade over this 'THING"
        • 5 Years Ago
        @Patrick. Your supervisor at the Caddy factory called and wondered why you weren't at work today.

        My neighbor has an Escalade and it sounds magically nautical. The V8 has a sweet 1980s Volvo-Penta soundtrack to it.

        It looks like a boat too.

        Sounds like a boat, looks like a boat, drives like a boat. Awesome.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I wouldnt pick an Escalade overy anything. Different tastes I guess.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sorry, but give me a Cadillac Escalade any day over this pretentious snob-mobile.
      • 5 Years Ago
      VW and Porsche are cutting weight around 400lbs for 2011. Why are they updating the powertrains and transmissions ( a good thing) and not cutting the weight on the A7?. the next gen body style and a 3.0 TDI with a 8 speed would get above 30mpg on the highway. There is a rumor that a twin turbo 3.0TDI with around 300hp may be produced.Now that would rock!!!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Q5 looks great. This, not so much. Maybe it's just a sign of the times, but the wheels are entirely too small for a vehicle that large. And the rear has that "MKTish" looks to it. Not a good look Audi, because IMO it's not a good look for Lincoln either.
      • 5 Years Ago
      And what about the TDI?
        • 5 Years Ago
        The TDI's been out for a while, I'm guessing that's why it's not being compared with this brand new offering
        • 5 Years Ago
        we have both the 3.0TDI and 4.2TDI here in Aust, they are amazing and the ONLY option anyone should get when buying this car and something to seriously consider in audi's other lines.
        If you have never driven a modern diesel before its like nothing else you've ever driven. I had a V8 Turbo Diesel Landcruiser for reference on the day I drove the 3.0TDI and the Audi feels about twice as fast, stronger and better built. The 4.2 feels like the 3.0 plus another 50%, I honestly don't know why you'd bother....
        The both sound amazing too, crack down the front windows a little and floor it off the time the is a little pause while the computers work out what your up to (my only criticism, but really most other SUV's are worse) and the thing launches with the low smooth rumbling V8 kinda noise and through the window you get the great turbo whistle.
        As far as the looks go, the new cayenne is the only thing which comes close in person.
        The ONLY way to go as far as modern SUVs are conserned.
        • 5 Years Ago
        remember the mazda MX3?
        with the smallest v6 in the world?
        in the end the car was to expensive.

        why does it need to be a v8?
        piston = friction.

        it's a whole mental phychology.
        how do you want it?
        upper squared, squared or down squared.
        each config has pro's and cons.
        big pistons move slower than slim pistons.

        europeans want agile and fast redliners.
        americans want torque(burn rubber) and slow cars.

        europeans cars are expensive.
        2 + cyl would add up the price,BUT NOT ADD ANY power, just extra friction and slow down the engine.

        america was simple, simply fidling 90+ years on the same engine design, shaving a bit here and there, but basicly the same.
        european: several hundreds or thousands engine designs.
        500cc, 700cc, 900, 1.0L, 1.1L, 1.2L, 1.3L, 1.4L, 1.5L, 1.6L, 1.7L, 1.8L, 1.9L, 2.0L, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc , etc, etc, etc, etc , etc, etc, etc, etc
        (mainly due to traffic / circulantion tax, some countries charge on power, others on weight, others on the combo)
        the netherlands: 19% VAT + 40% BPM tax, extremely expensive. (yes i know rules have changed).
        that's why europeans have some many engine designs.
        traffic tax: germany charges on displacement / power, the netherlands charges on net weight(weight runs the roads).
        Gasonline is about 5,10€ / gallon today.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly. The TDI version is something I'd trade my V8 for.

        Why can automakers make smaller displacement V8's...maybe a 3.5L up to a 4.0L turbo/SC V8?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Looking at that tailgate, now I know what inspired the design for the Insignia/Regal wagon.
      • 5 Years Ago
      why not just drop that old 4.2 v8 and replace it with a new v8 that gets more power and better economy? ford did just that with their new 5.0, which makes 97-horses more than the old 4.6 and the torque increased by 65, all the while increasing the economy! we went through this down sizing thing in the 80's and ended up with some really bad cars... lets not make the same mistake! besides, we DO have the technology to make these v8's more efficiant, its about freakin time we start using it!!! dont get me wrong, these smaller engines are nice(and a damn site better than the crap in the 80's), but when you need more power, you need more power... and a turbo and supercharger arent always the way to go! i wish more auto makers would actually spent some time reworking what they have and/or replace what isnt working with something new, but not always resorting to down sizing! taking the cheap way out is not always the best option... it can sometimes lead to a big failure-like GM's 2.8 v6 in the 80's.. they were so worried about getting it out to market they didnt spend as much time on it as they should have.. in the end, you had an engine that was rushed,making the quality pretty low... why the hell would i get an audi Q7 with up to 333-horses when i can get a land rover with their new jaguar-sorced 5.0 liter v8 with either 370 horses or 510... it is an suv for god sakes, its not ment to be economical.. if you want an economical suv, you are in the wrong area! they were ment for utility, not economy..thats why they are called SUV's, not SEV's(sport economy vehicle)!
      • 5 Years Ago
      This car could definitely represent BP well right now....too bad the oil ain't washing up on the front doorsteps of the aholes who drive these.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sounds like a lonely dude without need of any seat except for the front left.
        • 5 Years Ago
        replying to Nozferat:

        What is wrong with you?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Q7 was too big for my wifes tastes, I talked her into driving the Q5 and for her needs, it beat out the BMW M3, Acura RDX and Mercedes GLK we drove the days before. Q5 is great, bit larger then Honda CRV and feels it, but just drove ours from Florida to NY in all sorts of weather. Some controls take getting used to. My biggest complaint is the gas and brake pedal are a bit too close, and the front seating feel a bit tight, although I am used to my Tahoe, which in comparison is huge next to the Q5. We got 24+ MPG driving the trip including all stops and many times at 75-85 MPH with the back loaded with our crap. Dealership was awesome to deal with and the Audi buying experience has been great. Wish they made some chrome wheels for it, the aluminum wheels available come in one flaver, aluminum ugly. LED lighting is awesome looking and best of all, were not driving the same Lexus, Cadillac or whatever other crossover you see every 3 cars. Just some Q5 feedback.

      Zamifir, most of us don't have an interest in diesel, right or wrong, it is what it is, hence Audi isn't bothering. Personally, I told my wife the diesel is reporting up to 70 MPG on the highway, but you can't convince her.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @EngineersView - so if 40% of all cars toyota sold were hybrids, and say 50% of the lexus hatch (if there was a petrol version), and 30% of all lexus suvs were hybrid sales, those sales would NOT be a result of the hybrid tech but rather deficiencies in other engines? Weird. I'm not sure that methodology applies to any automaker but keep drawing those blanks.

        @MajorGeek - I love you man, I really do. "those numbers must be european". 'no, actually they sell tons more as a % of sales in europe'. "oh, crap, um, well, instead of saying, oh nice, i wasn't aware they were selling so well for audi and vw and resulting in the most sustained growth either brand has ever seen in their us history... i'll try and substantiate my bias some other way... yeah.. um... let's see... selling huge amounts in their primary market of europe, selling significant percentages of units in the US driving both brands expansion... um... um... it's 1% of cars, HA!"

        Yea, fail. Let's quite the nativity. Diesel is selling fine. Automakers who have the balls and funds to bring them here are being rewarded handsomely. It's not that hard to understand. Does that change whether YOU want one, or your wife? No. I don't care. People are buying them in statistically significant numbers and returning vw to profitability, and all most of the tdi owners i know are women, so neither of your personal opinions seem to be affecting VW and Audi's success at large, with men or women. So no, don't buy one, it doesn't matter, plenty of Aud and VW's customers are, and they've resulted in the best business case either brand could have hoped for.

        Stay grumpy guy :)
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Zamifir, most of us don't have an interest in diesel, right or wrong, it is what it is, hence Audi isn't bothering."

        Most? The majority of VW's success recently has been a result of their TDI models, accounting for 40% and up in every model the option is offered. And wouldn't you know it, they're accounting for over 1/3 of Q7 sales.

        So yes, while you aren't interested, people buying audi and vw products are. 1/3 of sales is significant interest no matter how you want to slant it. If the highlander hybrid was accounting for 30% of sales toyota would be well beyond ecstatic, as it stands it accounts for less than 10%.

        Your opinions fine, even if it's not reflected in the reality of the market place, but when generalizing it helps to adhere to the actual situation, not conflate it with your opinion :).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Most of us don't want it in the states. 58% of car that you rarely see in the states comes to what, 1% of all cars on nthe road? You just don't see diesels and the public is not willing to buy them on whole.
        • 5 Years Ago
        dude, chrome sucks.

        besides all rims painted grey metalic.
        another thing those rims vw mounts are brand rims from a well known producer.
        Not some Johny vargas garage rims with chrome spray.

        i bet any rims prodced by foose or who ever wouldn't stand our country roads/city handeling.
        we love to seeks the edge of grip in corners.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't want to argue, I'm questioning your generalization that "most of us don't have an interest in diesel", a comment, if you've forgotten, you directed at me. You're not extending 'us' to just you and your wife, you're extending it to some buying public.

        And no, those are not world figures, those are north american.

        "Audi A3 TDI now accounts for 58.7% of the overall A3 model mix. Overall, A3 sales rose 144%, meaning sales of the TDI models are incremental since their introduction to the U.S. market late last year. The Audi Q7 TDI SUV continues to account for 36.2% of the Q7 line, a result that’s largely limited by supply of the TDI models."

        Audi's North American April 2010 sales press release. That's been a consistent trend since the models debuted.

        If you need to continue to argue i guess you can try to squirm out of it and construct some strange context for 'us', but as it stands, the buying public are embracing diesel models from the leading producers of diesel models in the north american market place.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The sole reason why 1/3 of Audi Q7 sales are diesels is simple. The Q7 V8 returns 14 mpg combined.


        It's almost Hummer fuel economy, one of the worst of its kind. Diesel at the same time is good for 20 mpg combined. People are simply saving their butts.

        Then, the sole reason only 10% of Highlanders are sold as hybrids is that the hybrid is a premium model for this car. It"s 10k more than the basic Highlander and is tuned for almost V8 power while keeping the 4 banger fuel economy, not for maximizing the MPG like in the case of a, for instance, the Prius.

        Finally, he reason why VW diesel sales are relatively high is their awful 2.5 basic engine. Neither fast nor economical. If they brought the 122 HP and 160HP TSI engines (both good for some 32 mpg combined), no customer would even think about diesels. They won"t offer TSI because selling diesels you can rip your buyers more. Diesels won't save any money when compared with modern, efficient gasoline equivalent but cost more to buy, maintain and repair.
      • 5 Years Ago
      still not sold on the look. its certainly a step in the right direction but its still not there.

      Q5 looks good tho.
      • 4 Years Ago
      To all of the negative ppl. I would NEVER buy American "trash"....just purchased the new Audi Q7....it's amazing...and yes, it DOES look good. Luxury and sport in one. I'm assuming the negative comments are from jealous ppl who just can't afford a high end SUV.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Now, now, this Q7 isn't really that bad, sure if you are going to compare it to other SUVs it may not come out at the top but still it is good, though they could have done a bit more but considering the price tag from Audi, this must have been something different from them. Source: http://www.carbroker.org/Top-Latest-Cars/Audi/2009-Audi-Q7.php tells about MPG and the price
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