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We’ve waxed lyrical about the standard SQ7’s seriously impressive all-round ability before, and thankfully the Vorsprung additions don’t dramatically alter that. Audi has just traded in the subtle aesthetics of the standard car for the more overtly showy look favoured by rivals, such as the Range Rover Sport.
The 429bhp 4.0-litre V8 diesel, with its two ‘hot inside vee’ mounted turbochargers and electrically driven compressor, continues to deliver the effortless pace we know and love. You’re acutely aware that the 2.3-tonne SUV is being walloped at the horizon at an astonishing rate of knots, but the linear power delivery makes it surge confidently, like a 747 on its take-off roll.
It’s not lightning-quick away from a standing start, partly due to the old-school torque converter drafted in to handle the immense 664lb ft of torque delivered from near-idle. But the way it gathers pace from, say, 30mph up to the national speed limit is staggeringly relentless. With the exhaust in its loud mode, it even does a half-decent impression of a burbling petrol V8.
But the SQ7’s other forte is in making smooth, near-silent long-distance progress, and that’s where one Vorsprung addition isn’t as welcome. Those huge wheels, wrapped in tyres with a neat anti-kerbing lip jutting out, introduce an extra degree of road roar into the cabin that isn’t there in the standard car. Not much, but you’ll likely have the radio up a notch or two louder to compensate.
The extra unsprung weight of those wheels means the air suspension can get caught out by around-town potholes, sending a jolt into the cabin. Thankfully, once out of city limits, it’s very nearly as cosseting as it is on smaller alloys, particularly with the dampers left in auto or comfort mode.
There’s no impact on handling, either. The SQ7 Vorsprung is still mightily adept at hiding its weight (if not its size) in the bends, even without the clever active anti-roll bars fitted. The meaty steering allows you to place it on the road accurately, and its composure is more akin to that of a well-sorted executive saloon.
Inside, the extra material richness afforded by the nicer level and padded dash are welcome, if not strictly necessary, given how granite-hewn the standard car already feels. We’re not blown away by the Bose stereo, however – its overly dominant subwoofer masks any extra clarity that might be heard in the overall sound.