IT WAS Al Pacino’s character Tony D’Amato, in the classic gridiron flick Any Given Sunday, who told his hapless Miami Sharks how “life is just a game of inches.”
He was referring to the footy field, in a spiel that’s regarded as one of the most rousing sporting pep-talks ever filmed, but I recently found myself mouthing his immortal lines as I grunted and gasped, trying to find just one more inch in our Q7’s densely-filled luggage bay.
Pacino’s growling Coach D’Amato may have believed “the inches we need are everywhere around us,” but even with the Q7’s third row folded to liberate no less than 770 litres, I was struggling to find them.
Shouldering the electronic tailgate shut, I prayed it wouldn’t burst back open in protest, and willed that the locksmiths of Ingolstadt were up to the challenge of restraining this lot over a three-hour road trip. One slip here and the road north would look like a drunken Pro Hart had been let loose on it with a cannon, a carton of baked beans and the contents of a Vinnies bin. Again.
Fortunately, the latches held and, with the detachable mesh cargo net snicked in place behind the second row, the kids (or what I could see of them beneath the doonas and pillows), appeared comfy.
Motoring along to the muffled strains of ‘Kumbaya’ from the general vicinity of the back seat, I was reminded again of the quiet competence of the Q7’s suspension tune; supple but disciplined, the Audi’s ride quality and steering precision didn’t suffer much, if at all, from the added burden of four humans and their extensive accoutrements.
It helps that our Q7 boasts the optional adaptive air suspension and continuously variable electronic damping ($4690) that self-levels to ensure the body sits nice and flat even when loaded.
The air suspension also enables a choice of several ride-height modes, selected via the Audi’s MMI controller, encompassing lift, offroad, comfort, auto and dynamic.
Switching between dynamic and lift when stationary is a bit of a party trick as the car gently raises or lowers in stages. From the outside, there’s a good hand-width’s difference between the two beneath the wheelarch, but out on the road we preferred leaving it in auto, as dynamic tends to make the ride and the transmission response just a little too edgy.
When it came time to unpack, the Q7’s loading mode, accessed via a switch in the luggage bay, drops ride height a handy 45mm from standard.
By my reckoning that’s just shy of two inches, which is about the extra space I needed when it came time to pack it all back in again two days later.
Yep, Coach D’Amato was right: life really is a game of inches.
Audi’s digital dash display is one of, if not the best in the business, both in terms of graphics quality and ease of use. I find having the navigation system enlarged in the customisable 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit (that’s the instrument cluster by another name), and flanked by minimised speedo and tacho, an excellent alternative to reading the retractable 8.3-inch colour screen in the centre of the dash.