664lb ft of torque. Quite a figure, isn’t it? It’s a greater amount of twist than any car I’ve ever been fortunate enough to drive - supercars included - and is just one of the diesel-powered Audi SQ7’s many impressive figures. It also has 429bhp, eight cylinders, three turbochargers (sort of), and it’ll do 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds. That last figure is - by the way - a tenth faster than a Porsche Cayenne GTS, and just a tenth off the thoroughly bonkers Range Rover Sport SVR.
All this becomes evident as soon as you put your foot down from a standstill. The way the SQ7 picks up will make you pull a face you never have done before: a sort of mix between surprise, bemusement and joy. It’s as though a sumo wrestler has just beaten Usain Bolt off the starting line, and it’s all down to some clever trickery under the bonnet.
The reason for the added ‘sort of’ earlier when talking about the turbos was because only two are conventional blowers. The third is what Audi calls an ‘electric compressor’, which sits just downstream of the intercooler, spinning at up to 70,000rpm and powered by the car’s 48-volt electrical sub system. 12-volt car batteries have a sell-by-date, it seems.
Since the compressor doesn’t need exhaust gasses to spin it up, there’s no lag. And I really mean no lag: whether it’s off the line or on the move, a stab of the accelerator brings the 4.0-litre V8 to life with frightening speed, giving you no time to prepare for the 950rpm arrival of peak torque.
It gives the SQ7 a surprisingly linear, almost EV-like response, and as such, it’s only really during the initial stages of acceleration that it feels shockingly quick. After that, you need a quick glance at the speedo to realise you’re going faster than you ought to be in the motoring equivalent of an Airbus A380. The only limiting factor is the eight-speed automatic gearbox, which doesn’t seem the most willing to react even in dynamic mode - it’s definitely worth taking control yourself with the wheel-mounted paddles from time to time.
Thankfully, Audi hasn’t just left the SQ7 as a rather large, straight line-friendly piece of ballistic ordinance. You get adaptive dampers, rear-wheel steering, and an immensely clever pair of active anti-roll bars. These electronically-controlled items remain uncoupled on straight roads for the sake of comfort, but re-engage during cornering. They’re independently controlled too, allowing the SQ7 to manage understeer and oversteer depending on how you’re driving.
Does it work? Hell yes it works - this seven-seater mammoth can be chucked around in a way that shouldn’t be possible. Of course, it can’t defeat the laws of physics, and even though the new Q7 range as a whole is 300kg lighter than the previous-gen version, the SQ7 still tips the scales at over 2300kg. So it still has a tendency to roll around more than you’d like, and generally isn’t as sharp as something like a Range Rover Sport SDV8 or Porsche Cayenne. It isn’t as prone to understeer as I was expecting however, and if you’re committed enough with the throttle, you can get a pleasing amount of movement from the rear boots.
Where the SQ7 really shines is as a cruiser. I racked up 600 miles in the thing in just a few days, and each and every one of those miles - including the ones spent trundling along the M25 at 2mph - were utterly glorious. It’s even reasonably economical: the official combined figure of 38.2mpg is the usual over-optimistic nonsense, but over several long drives I was firmly in high 30s territory.
The cavernous interior is comfortable, pleasant and stuffed full of every gadget known to man, and while I’d personally have a fast estate over a fast SUV almost every time, there is something pleasing about sitting up high like a baller and listening to Notorious B.I.G in your giant 4x4. Even though I’m one of the least cool human beings on the planet.
But here’s the thing: the entry-level 3.0-litre TDI model will tick most of those boxes, is still fairly quick, and a lot cheaper. You’ll need at least £72,020 for the SQ7, and it’s easy to nudge £100k if you get carried away: ‘ours’ was optioned up to £95,160.
Since it’s not quite as sharp as rivals from Land Rover and Porsche, it becomes harder to recommend this top-of-the-line SUV nutter. You really have to want the bonkers straight line pace to consider the SQ7, or be one of those people who simply has to have the fastest, shiniest and most expensive version of whatever it is you’re buying. Regardless, the SQ7 does get a nod of respect from me for its scientific approach to speed, and if you’re one of the few that go for this surprisingly agile hulk, you’ll thoroughly appreciate it too.