When every other month’s flavour seems to be some electrified thingamabob after another, there is no greater breath of fresh air for petrolheads than the new-to-Singapore Audi SQ7, with its naughty V8 engine under the bonnet.
The instant thrust of an electric drivetrain may seem cool at first, but the novelty quickly wears off. This is mostly due to the hair-trigger pedal that requires more measured ‘throttle’ inputs than a conventional petrol engine.
The SQ7’s (and soon-to-come SQ8) punchy 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 is also found in Audi’s range-topping RS 6 Avant and RS Q8 models. Those who are familiar with it know that it is a charismatic beast that delivers a whopping 507hp and 770Nm. This is enough to catapult the 2.2-tonne seven-seater luxury SUV from standstill to 100km/h in 4.1 seconds, as it charges towards its 250km/h maximum speed.
An eye-catching exterior
Audi’s S variants are all-rounders that sit a notch below the high-performance RS models. The SQ7 is a sportier version of the Q7. The S models are engineered to deliver dynamic performance for occasional hard driving. However, they still retain a modicum of civility for daily drive duties and long road trips.
Naturally, the SQ7 is fully armoured in a bespoke body kit to create a powerful impression on the roads. The Audi distributor here tells us the SQ7’s body kit is different from the S Line body kit that can be optioned on the regular Q7 models, separating the Real McCoy from the great pretenders.
Apart from the set of cost-optional 22-inch alloy rims, quad-tailpipes and aluminium-look wing mirrors (a S/RS trademark), the demo SQ7’s distinctive Singleframe grille features double slats, a 3D blade in the bumper and side air intakes with a honeycomb grid.
The cabin combines high-tech digital and sporty luxury, while the drive experience remains satisfyingly analogue. Measuring 5,067mm x 1,970mm x 1,743mm, the majestic SQ7 may look and feel big from the outside, but drives like a smaller car once you get behind the wheel.
(Read more: Audi’s futuristic E-Tron interior, revealed)
Inside the Audi SQ7
To put you in the mood for maximum attack driving, the digital instruments of the ‘Audi virtual cockpit plus’ can be switched to display the performance essentials. This is a feature unique to the SQ7. As you cruise sedately, the sports seats keep you snugly in place when you’re carving up corners.
The SQ7’s agility can be attributed to all-wheel steering, which is optional on the regular Q7 but standard on the S and RS models. At low speeds, the system steers the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels. This gives the car the tight cornering dynamics of a car with a shorter wheelbase. For greater stability, the rear wheels follow the front wheels at higher speeds.
The full might of the 4.0-litre’s torque builds from just 2000rpm, which is barely over idle tickover, so you’re never far away from tapping into the SQ7’s performance. In anger, the SQ7 packs a wallop, unleashing its vengeance on lesser rivals that mistake it for a Q7 with a body kit.
Satisfying control and engagement
While it is excellent on straight roads, the Audi SQ7 excels on curves as well. In spite of its size and high centre of gravity, the car is very easy to control. The driver is able to cut a clean path through multiple corners with satisfying levels of engagement.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox works well with the engine’s performance profile, too. During brisk acceleration, the shifts slur enough to provide smooth progress, yet snappy enough to excite the driver. Furthermore, the V8 delivers devastating performance and a soul-stirring soundtrack that soars along with the rising revs.
Another seven-seater SUV that embodies ‘sport’ and ‘utility’ capable of dishing out such sass to embarrass sportscars is hard to imagine, but the SQ7 clearly fulfils that brief to a T.
Audi SQ7 4.0 TFSI Quattro Tiptronic
Engine Type: 3996cc, twin-turbo, V8
Horsepower: 507hp / 5500rpm
Torque: 770Nm / 2000-4000rpm
0-100: KPH 4.1s
Top Speed: 250kph (electronically limited)