I have had the privilege of driving so many different cars over the past year, so much so that I am frequently asked which one is best.
Now, I think that’s one of the trickiest questions one could ever ask. It’s like asking me what my favorite song is, and my answer will always be dependent on what sort of mood I’m in. If you ask me what my favorite brand in the world is, Ferrari is the answer. When I’m asked which one, I am left flabbergasted. That’s like making me pick between Kate Beckinsale, Olga Kurylenko, Grace Kelly, and Audrey Hepburn. It is not humanly possible. A very wise follower of Opus Macchina decided to throw me a more focused question.
He asked, “Given the country that we live in, what is the most complete car you’ve tested?” I thought it was a rather brilliant question. It made me think real hard. Of course, really mature answers came to play. 458 Italia. 911 GT3 RS. Rolls-Royce Wraith. The problem is that he mentioned the word “realistically” and that I’d have to drive it every single day through our country’s awful road conditions and unpredictable weather. And so after giving it much thought, I have come up with an answer.
The Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Quattro.
Before you start objecting, allow me to share some of the cars I’ve thought of. You might be thinking, “Why not the Porsche Cayenne, they’re practically twins”. Well, as great as the Cayenne is, it is sitting a bit long in the tooth. The infotainment screen is no longer as crisp as what we’re used to nowadays, and I happen to associate Porsche with their sensational PDK transmission, which is absent in the Cayenne. It’s a more dynamic drive than the Q7, but if I were looking for an SUV that drives like a sports car, the Macan is a far better proposition. Besides, the Cayenne isn't that much of a looker anyway.
A less practical choice that I thought of was the Volkswagen Golf GTI. I am astounded by its performance, equipment, and competitive price. At less than 2.5 million bucks, you get a hot hatch that seems to do everything rather well. The problem here is that it isn’t as practical as an SUV, and on days when it’s raining, I’d still look for the assurance of an all-wheel-drive SUV. Besides, if I'm honest, Peugeot’s 308 GTi is a far more exciting car to drive. It isn’t as well sorted and complete as the Golf, but boy is it a theatrical thing to drive.
And then somewhere in between my thoughts lingered a BMW 420d Gran Coupé. It is a beautiful work of art for those that can't stand the idea of being just like everybody else. It is so handsome particularly in its Luxury line specification. It had all the hallmarks of the great German brand with a twist of flair. It came with an ample engine that could return 16 km/L if you weren't driving like an idiot. If it weren't for the weather and the occasional floods, this would have topped my list. This Bimmer drives like a dream.
Versatility is King.
So here we are, with what I think is the most capable and complete automobile I’ve driven at Opus Macchina - the Audi Q7. Let’s start with the looks. I know it isn't for everyone, but I happen to like its understated elegance. With the optional larger S-Line wheels and Adaptive LED lighting, it would've made the package pretty much perfect. The standout quality of this SUV is in the way it rides - rather, glides. The air suspension is so magnificent that a lot of people liken it to sliding down butt-naked on a gigantic tub of butter and into a stack of fluffy pancakes with whipped cream.
The Q7 is so smooth regardless of the road conditions and it isn’t even equipped with the optional comfort seat package. What about that engine? An absolute torque monster with supreme passing capability. The 8-speed automatic transmission is as smooth as a silk Zegna necktie and the legendary Quattro system is the gargantuan male member that puts this dapper gentleman's money where his mouth is. The system is sophisticated and capable. It can literally pull a van out of a forest ditch. On reverse. On a dipping incline. No, seriously it really can.
The legend continues.
It is a monster of a machine, yet it is so docile. It can seat 7 comfortably without forcing the rear passengers to regurgitate. Everything inside is so adjustable that it would be some form of a struggle to find a reason to complain. Personally, it takes a rare breed of automobile to make me enjoy being a passenger, but in this big Audi - I do. It’s even smoother and more plush as a passenger, adding more points to its versatility in ownership. The only gripe I have with it is the audio system.
The speakers do a great job as far as clarity goes, but they really need to attach a subwoofer to this thing. It is a non-negotiable for a car at this price point, but it shouldn't be a difficult issue to resolve. You can spec this with a Bang & Olufsen system if you have the cash. Also, I am not so sure if I like the virtual cockpit on the Q7. I feel like it adds to a sense of fragility, but then again, it’s the way forward. As for me, I still think I would opt to have it with a smaller screen flanked by two analogue gauges. It gives me more Audi fizz.
Business class everywhere.
Overall, I struggle to think of any other car I’ve driven for Opus Macchina that I would choose to live with each and every day, all things considered. It has superior power, comfort, technology, and presence. Let's not forget that it seats 7 in complete comfort. I could drive this to work tomorrow, run some mundane errands, and then pull a pair of jet-skis to Punta Fuego come the weekend. I mean, I could tow and pull Mall of Asia to Alabang if I wanted to.
I can cruise the highways on 'Comfort' mode without feeling a thing, switch it to 'Dynamic' to hunker down the SUV and carve a twisty mountain pass, and then click 'Off-road' if a river happens to be in my way. The Q7 is just as comfortable plowing through the farmlands as it is pulling up at a Cirque du Soleil show. It does everything brilliantly almost without any compromise and that's why it has to be the most complete and competent automobile...
...I've tested here.