Archive | April, 2014

Audi Q7 – Still A Great 4×4

The car you see in the images – and what a fab colour – is the Audi Q7. It’s a big vehicle and although this translates into superb passenger space and seven-seats as standard while the air suspension ensures supreme comfort, it still takes up a lot of room although, with the driver aids on board, it isn’t too bad for parking.

The Q7 first went on sale in 2007 as Audi’s first true SUV, so seven years on how is it standing up against more youthful opposition? Surprisingly well as it happens. Naturally, the design has been refreshed and all the high-tech toys added but with the trend for smaller, lighter offerings from other manufacturers does the Q7 still have what it takes?

q1 Audi Q7   Still A Great 4x4The model shown here in SE trim has the less powerful 205PS version of the rugged 3.0L V6 TDI coupled to an eight-speed Tiptronic ‘box with the usual drive options including ‘Sport’.  The three litre engine (with an unobtrusive Stop/Start system) has plenty of gusto; it gets the massive Q7 up to speed without drama, and it’s very smooth.

The 62mph sprint is accomplished in under nine seconds but that’s not what this car is about. In the gears there is plentiful power for effortless overtaking and for rolling on to 127mph, should that be allowed, obviously. Audi reckon that fuel consumption should be in the high thirties and I think that’s achievable – if you drive appropriately. Certainly the big beast seemed to be sipping the fuel in use.

Comfort is taken care of by adaptive air suspension – electronically controlled with a continuously adaptive system for all four wheels which regulates ride height and damping automatically. Alternatively, there’s a choice of five modes (automatic, comfort, dynamic, off-road and lift) selected via the excellent MMI (Multi-Media Interface) system. I have to admit the Q7 spent most of its time in dynamic mode which sets the car’s suspension up with firmer performance-orientated characteristics at it’s lowest ride height. I might also have been mostly in sport mode to maximise the engine’s power output.

The comfort is further augmented by the firmly supportive seats.  The driving position is excellent and the interior is generally a nice place to be.  The second row of seats offers plenty of legroom but the third row is strictly for the kids.  Surprisingly, the boot wasn’t as massive as I had expected although 765 litres is probably enough for most purposes. With the third row of seats down it becomes positively cavernous.

The car obviously features the now legendary Audi Quattro four-wheel-drive plus an automatic hill-hold which works very well and then of course there’s the handbrake. When I say handbrake I do of course mean parking brake. This is foot operated to apply and is released by a manual pull lever. It’s quirky, but I like it.

The vehicle featured had the technology package that included Sat-Nav – obviously – Audi’s advanced parking and a host of the other kit you’d expect, itemised below. There’s adaptive Xenon headlights and a really very good Bose sound system complete with a video Jukebox which I liked very much.

Overall then, The Audi Q7 is a luxury motor that focuses on comfortable seating for the whole family, and a safe on-road ride. Not that most buyers will be likely to need much in the way of off-road capability, but the Q7 won’t disappoint if the going gets a bit gnarly and we all know full well that Quattro technology has few peers. Yes, The Audi Q7 is ageing a little but it is doing so gracefully and remains worthy of serious consideration.

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Where Have The Boys In Blue Gone?

Once upon a time you could always rely on a British Bobby. The firm but fair constables, reliably pounding their neighbourhood beats day and night in all weathers; the wily detectives feeling the collars of miscreants everywhere and the senior officers, steadfast in their duty and steeped in years of practised thief taking. Whatever happened to them?

The nature of society has dictated that everything in the world should be run by accountants. Like some sort of secret alien invasion the bean counters and log stackers are taking over the world. They already control the police force. This is why the sight of foot patrols have vanished from our streets and traffic police seem to be disappearing. It is even becoming increasingly difficult to get stopped for speeding.

Under the banner of ‘Safety Camera Partnerships’ the speed camera and other devices once ruled and many motorists suffered the consequences. When the funding ended many cameras were switched off and, although some are still functioning, the impetus to catch unwary drivers seems to have been lost.

Even those anonymous white camera vans have all but disappeared. Although it is a contentious point, it does seem that all the talk about road safety was disingenuous. If it was public safety and not lucrative income that was the driving force, why should it stop because a funding channel has dried up? I wonder.

Whatever, the heat is off but the problem now is that driving standards appear to be dropping and speeding is on the increase as certain drivers ignore the rules. Whether we like them or not traffic police are crucial to ensuring that road traffic law is enforced and that bad or illegal driving is targeted. So where have they all gone?

We know that police forces are having to review their budgets and that balancing the books is seen as more important than the actual function of the thin blue line. Traffic cops are a rare sight these days; in fact, their numbers have dropped by a staggering twenty nine percent in the last ten years. Certainly, right now, what Police that are left out there are targeting bad drivers under the new rules for tailgating and lane-hogging but it is a drop in the ocean.

In the olden days drivers would see police on the streets. Proper coppers would sit in their motors at the roadside and deal with bad or illegal driving as it happened. They did not rely on cameras which cannot differentiate between poor driving or a simple error. A real live policeman could make that judgement. Motorists had respect for officers who dealt with the situation on its merits and didn’t tar all with the same brush. As a result, a firm warning was often all that was necessary and the errant driver appreciated that. You can’t stop progress but sometimes the old ways are still the best.

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