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Audi Q7 versus Volvo XC90: SUV giants in competition

Achim Hartmann
Audi Q7 versus Volvo XC90
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E s was in 1367 when the Audi Q7 appeared. This may not initially coincide with our own perception, but we would like to point out that it is the time calculation of the Burmese calendar. For us it was 2005 when the Audi Q7 premiered at the IAA. No other debutant from back then (such as Alfa Brera, Jaguar XK, Opel Astra Twin Top or VW Eos) lasted as long as he did. The Audi Q7 met a world without 'Germany’s next top model', albums by Helene Fischer and iPhone. The Volvo XC90 has been cruising through world history since 2002. For him it took longer with the successor because Volvo had been busy with itself for a long time and was considering whether there should be an XC90.

We have already explained in detail how fundamentally new the new one is. Let's make it short: it is the first Volvo to be based on the scaling architecture that all models from the S60 will use in the future. The common parts strategy goes as far as the engine - there is only one left. Four cylinders, as diesel, gasoline or hybrid.

In contrast, the Audi Q7 hardly differs formally from its predecessor, it lives the evolution, wants to be more economical, more comfortable, better networked and lighter. We last had an Audi Q7 3.0 TDI here in 2009, and it weighed in at 2,465 kilos. The current test car is 2,178, or 287 kilos less. You could say that this has the same effect on the sturdiness of the Audi Q7 as knocking six hundred pounds of rubble out of the Matterhorn. But it has astonishing effects on the performance of the Audi.

The Volvo XC90 offers a lot of space

At first it impresses with its enormous amount of space. It even offers a lavish amount of space for five adults. On the three individual seats in the rear (all with Isofix, and can be adjusted lengthways, folded and tilted separately) as on the front seats. They are by no means lacking in lateral support, but it could be a bit more comfortable up here.

Like in the Volvo XC90, in whose cockpit the interior designers placed two lounge chairs, leather-scented, cozy sofas and with a Swedish flag on the seat cheek . In the rear, the ten centimeters shorter Volvo XC90 has five centimeters less standard seating space on the individually adjustable individual seats. Sounds like a lot, like the fact that the standard trunk is 170 liters smaller (an Opel Adam has to make do with that much as trunk). But then your gaze wanders overthe width of the rear and loading compartment. So halfway, everything is very lavish in the Volvo XC90.

Audi Q7 impresses with the operating concept

If we want to get upset about something, it's better to use the service. The Volvo developers have completely reduced it - or rather: the number of buttons. For all matters relating to navigation, music, telephone, air conditioning and the settings of the assistance systems, it is necessary to swipe through the menus on the 9.2-inch portrait touchscreen. The risk of getting off the road is never greater than when trying to activate the lane departure warning system.

Audi, on the other hand, presents a different, but not entirely convincing, operating principle with the combination of a rotary knob and the extra-large touchpad. The structure in the Q7 is confusing: For example, the lane departure warning system can be activated on the indicator lever, but the lane change warning system can only be activated in the depths of the infotainment menu. However, the Audi Q7 comes up with a comprehensive range of assistance systems that is almost as abundant as that of the Volvo XC90. In addition to the lane assistants, distance assistants, traffic jam assistants and emergency braking assistants, both offer new systems: For example, the Audi Q7 warns of a car approaching from behind when getting out of the car. The Volvo XC90 recognizes when it comes off the road, tightens the belts and fixes the passengers in their seats with 300 Newton.

With 600 Newton meters, the V6 diesel in the Audi Q7 is now bumping into the hydraulic engine mounts Vibrations and noises. So it pushes softly and powerfully, while the automatic strolls through eight levels - it can hardly be wrong anyway with so much power. The self-locking center differential normally sorts 40 percent forward and 60 percent to promote traction and handling in equal measure.

Volvo XC90 is not in a hurry

This is how it sweeps Audi Q7 through the landscape at a pace that doesn't feel as high as it is inside. He seems strangely aloof. This is also due to the all-wheel steering (1,150 euros), which slightly reduces the turning circle at low speeds because the rear wheels turn a maximum of five degrees against the front. At higher speeds, the wheels steer in parallel, which increases agility and driving stability. Everything succeeds, but the steering always remains unemotional, sterile even, there is no feedback. Audi now has its own steering feel department, which was the first to deal with the Q7. He knows how to give advance notice. His efficiency program uses GPS data. If a curve /speed limit /town is coming soon, it warns the driver early on to take off the accelerator, use the momentum instead of braking hard later - this should save up to ten percent fuel. When it comes to comfort, the Audi Q7 doesn't save anything, flattered with its low noise level and the excellent air suspension (2,300 euros), which can only be long when fully loadedWaves tangled.

The Volvo XC90 also comes with adaptive air suspension (2,560 euros), it responds harsher to short bumps, but copes better with long waves when loaded. There is also a sport mode here, but hurry doesn't really fit the Volvo XC90. Despite the precise, responsive steering and the almost exuberant handling for a Volvo, the XC90 remains level-headed, safe and slower than the Audi Q7 in the driving dynamics test. As usual, no matter how hard the more economical four-cylinder biturbodiesel tries. Compared to the Audi V6, the downsizing diesel lacks power, performance, revving and smooth running. Until the full 2.5 bar boost pressure rushes off, the eight-speed box helps the engine over its weak start-up and then selects the gears smoothly and quickly.

The Volvo XC90 catches up with vehement brakes and lower costs. But the Audi Q7 wins because it comes so close to Audi's claim to build the perfect full-size SUV. The Volvo XC90 is a perfect Volvo. This means that both should remain up-to-date for a long time, until about the year 2569 - at least according to the Buddhist calendar.

MMI Navigation Plus in the Audi Q7 leaves little to be desired

A book could be filled about the infotainment system in the Audi Q7 with its countless functions, but most services cost extra. These include MMI Navigation Plus (2,800 euros), which updates your maps online, navigates you around traffic jams thanks to live traffic and receives destinations using one of the best voice input systems currently available. The navigation system gets online functions via an LTE module (310 euros), which can be equipped with a SIM card and at the same time functions as a WLAN hotspot. We also recommend the Audi Phone Box (440 euros), which even couples cell phones without a Bluetooth antenna interface (e.g. Apple iPhone) with an outside rod that improves reception. To do this, the mobile phone is placed in a tray on the center console, from where the antenna is connected via inductive tap. For an additional 250 euros extra, mobile phone apps can be displayed on the on-board monitor in the audi Q7 via Apple Carplay or Android Auto, which worked straight away when checking with a Samsung Galaxy S5. Compared to vehicles with a touchscreen, however, using the app via the precisely locking MMI rotary control requires a little practice; It is a pity that the large touchpad is not supported in smartphone mode. Apart from that, despite the gigantic range of functions in the Audi Q7, handling works after a short training period. In contrast to the TT and R8, which are only equipped with a digital instrument cluster (virtual cockpit), the large and extremely high-contrast center display helps to keep an overview.

The infotainment system in the Audi Q7 belongs for the best of what is currently available. However, those who want to drive fully connected pay around 4,000Euro surcharge - not including additional luxury such as a sound system.

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