Future Shock

Load me up

GED BULMER

The diesel-only Q7 range starts at $96,855 for the 160kW 3.0- litre TDI V6, and tops out at $153,616 for the rapid SQ7 with its 4.0-litre twin-turbo diesel V8. We’ve chosen the mid-spot in the range, namely the $104,885 200kW 3.0-litre TDI V6. Options include paint ($2250), 20s ($2300), four-zone climate ($1800), LED headlights ($2650), air suspension ($4690), aluminium/oak inlays ($2050), and rear seat tablets ($4950). We passed on the $15K B&O stereo, capping this loaded Q7 at a healthy $125,545.

Clever Q7 leaves Bulmer feeling technically illiterate

THE salesman looked aghast. He mumbled and stumbled and tried his best to move on from the awkward silence that had enveloped our until then, very convivial conversation.

The poor bloke had just spent a half hour taking me through the many and varied features of our new Audi long-termer – to give it its full title, the Q7 3.0 TDI 200kW Tiptronic quattro – relishing the opportunity to demonstrate his intimate knowledge of the big SUV’s extensive features list.

Audi HQ was eager to have Wheels experience the handover of a new car just the way a customer would, so arrangements were made to have the striking Ink Blue wagon, with Rock Grey leather, presented in the customer pre-delivery area at Audi Centre Melbourne.

The salesman knew his stuff, patiently demonstrating everything from the Q7’s auto tailgate function, with its party trick of opening when you wave your foot under the bumper, to the electric-folding third row seats that glide elegantly into the floor at the push of a button. And the flexible 40/20/40 second row configuration that flips, slides and folds with impressive versatility.

He moved on to the removable smart tablets in the second-row – with streaming internet functionality, no less – and the customisable 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit dash that morphs at the press of a wheelmounted button from a traditional arrangement to a reduced version of same, and on to a full technicolour nav-screen.

My Saturday morning pre-caffeine brain strained to take it all in as the presenter pressed on. I just hoped I’d remember some of it tomorrow, when the family and I planned to christen the new long-termer with a 800km interstate trip.

At the very least, I had to recall how to play a DVD and stream internet to those rear-seat screens, lest there be a kiddie rebellion of frightening proportions.

To be fair, at its launch in 2015 Audi declared the Q7 “its most advanced massproduction car ever”, so most mere mortals with an IQ south of Stephen Hawking’s would struggle to commit all of its techtricks to memory after a 30 minute tutorial.

Our man ploughed on patiently, despite the occasional dumb question or request to rewind from his pie-eyed student.

Then came the moment that brought things unstuck.

The bloke was whizzing through the car’s connectivity functions and suggested it might make more sense if we did it with an actual phone.

“Do you have your phone on you,” he asked, politely.

“Sure,” I said, producing the black rectangle from my hip pocket.

He grabbed the phone without looking and busily clicked away at the Audi’s submenus, preparing it to sync while explaining all of the many and varied functions I would soon be able to access via the retractable 8.3-inch colour screen.

Then he glanced down and a look that was equal parts dismay, confusion and sympathy scurried across his face as he stammered for the first time in what had been a peerless presentation.

“Err… that’s an old one, isn’t it,” he ventured tentatively, staring at the device in his hand as if I’d deposited dog poo there.

“Yeah, it’s an iPhone 4S,” I replied proudly, just to do his head in a bit.

Lost for words, the poor bloke got busy trying to get the old girl to sync, but I imagined he was wondering what would possess Audi to hand over $125K worth of technological tour de force to a bogan who can’t be bothered to keep up with mobile phone technology.

In my defence, ye olde 4S still makes calls, take photos, plays music, provides directions, connects to the internet and occasionally syncs temperamentally with test cars. So what’s not to like about it?

But yes, since the superbly sophisticated Q7 arrived in our lives, the 4S has begun to look a lot like grandad’s axe, so it might soon be time to scribble ‘phone shop’ on the centre console touch pad and follow the satnav’s plummy directions to The Future!

Biggest Loser Germany

Audi declared “the weight is over” with this, the second-gen Q7. The tubby original earned the less-than-flattering nickname of ‘QE7’ so it was imperative for Ingolstadt to reduce its carbon footprint by cutting weight and reducing emissions. Key to that strategy was a healthy injection of aluminium into the Q7’s structure. The big new Audi’s handsome all-aluminium body saves around 95kg, while the new TDI V6 cuts around 20kg. Numerous other weight-saving initiatives equal a total saving of around 240kg in kerb weight.

AUDI Q7

34 44 3 3 0 0 4 1 0 7 WEEK 4 Date acquired: January 2016 Price as tested: $125,545 This month: 802km @ 9.3L/100km Overall: 802km @ 9.3L/100km URBAN COUNTRY SPORTS FAMILY MOTORWAY