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    Matt Petrie

    Tuned BMW X5 M F85 713whp Tarmac terror

    Posted in Cars on Friday, 13 October 2017

    Heavy Hitter 713whp BMW F85 X5 M. With over 700whp, this insanely intimidating BMW X5 M is a 2.4-tonne Tarmac terror. Words and photos: Matt Petrie.

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    X5 scoops #Towcar-award / #BMW-X5-xDrive40d-M-Sport-F15 / #BMW-X5-xDrive40d-F15 / #BMW-X5-F15 / #BMW-X5 / #BMW-F15 / #BMW /

    In the ‘Over £45,000’ class at #The-Caravan-Club-Towcar of the Year #2017 competition the #BMW-X5-xDrive40d-M-Sport won the category hands-down and was also voted winner of the ‘All-Wheel Drive Over 1800kg’ category.

    The X5 beat off stiff competition and impressed the judges with its towing abilities as the Caravan Club Towcar judges explained: “The #BMW deploys a raft of technological tricks to make the towing experience as comfortable as possible – offering a range of suspension and drive settings plus an economy setting which returns fuel economy in the high 40s.”
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    A Viable Option? #2016

    The new #BMW-X5-40e #BMW-F15 costs the same as a xDrive40d model but which makes more sense to buy? #BMW-UK has pitched the #Hybrid-X5-40e right into the section of the 4x4 market occupied by the X5 40d… but is the part-petrol, part-electric machine a real alternative? Words: Bob Harper. Photography: BMW.

    So here it is, the first of what will be four full plug-in hybrid models that #BMW will be launching in the UK this year. The X5 is the first to get the #PHEV treatment but following closely on its heels will be the 330e (that you can read about on https://drive-my.com/en/social/stream/item/8100.html ), the 220xe and the 740e and no doubt when the new Five and Six are eventually announced both of those cars’ architecture will have been designed to allow full use of BMW’s drivetrain of choice.

    We’ve already had ‘ActiveHybrid’ versions of the 3, 5 and 7 Series but the next generation of BMW Hybrids are far more advanced than those and promise greater electric ranges and are less compromised in day-to-day use than its previous efforts. The real question that needs answering is whether one of these hybrids, and specifically this X5 we have here today, will actually suit your motoring needs? I would suggest that you’d need to sit down with a large piece of paper that will end up being covered in hastily squiggled figures to try and work out whether a hybrid or one of BMW’s already excellent diesel versions makes most sense for your specific needs.

    I have to hold my hands up and say that I approached the test of this new kid on the block with a fair amount of cynicism – a diesel X5 is a wonderful machine to drive and own and with the hybrid’s limited range and perhaps less than stellar real-world economy figures I was finding it a difficult concept that someone would actually prefer to invest in the 40e than a 40d. First impressions are certainly good however – the X5 40e in M Sport trim we have here retains the big 4x4’s handsome good looks and is still an imposing piece of kit. It’s not likely your neighbours will notice it’s a hybrid either unless they catch you charging it or clock the small 40e script on the front doors or the subtle eDrive logo sitting on the X5’s rump.


    Once I’ve clambered up into the X5, made myself comfortable and adjusted mirrors and seat to my satisfaction, I make the school boy error of assuming I’ve managed to break the X5 as pressing the starter button doesn’t elicit any sort of engine starting noises from under the bonnet. The dash pod glows nicely and I soon realise that the X5 is ‘running’ and that all I need to do if release the electronic handbrake.

    Moving off with nary a whisper from the drivetrain is always a slightly uncanny feeling, but it’s one you soon become accustomed to in the X5. Once you’re rolling it’s not an entirely noise-free environment as a certain amount of road noise and tyre roar do eventually permeate the cabin as the speed rises. Trundling around the Berkshire sub-suburban roads where speeds are generally pretty low sees the four-cylinder twin-turbo slumbering, letting the electric motor and batteries take the strain until the speed rises to around 42mph and then the internal combustion side of the equation joins the party. We seem to use the word ‘seamless’ to describe so many things these days, but it really is the right description of the way the engine kicks in and out – if I hadn’t caught the movement of the rev counter needle out of the corner of my eye I really wouldn’t have realised the engine had kicked in.


    After around 20 minutes of driving, not desperately fast, not intentionally slowly, simply keeping pace with the rest of the traffic on the road, the X5 is indicating a pretty staggering 73.9mpg. This rises and falls pretty rapidly depending on whether the four-cylinder is in play or not, and we must bear in mind that the battery was fully charged before departure, but it’s the sort of figure a diesel X5 could only dream about. The flip side of the coin is that when you use all the performance the economy plummets dramatically, but it’s worth remembering that there’s a lot of performance on offer if you use the combined might of the twin-scroll turbo four and the electric motor. Together they offer up 313hp (identical to the X5 40d’s output) and 332lb ft of torque (considerably down on the 40d’s 465lb ft) and if you ask it to, the 40e will really fly, taking you by surprise as this isn’t the sort of forward momentum you’re conditioned to expect in a car that has eco credentials. You’ll need to use the upper end of the rev-range in the 40e to enjoy the best it has to offer, but that’s no hardship as it does sound pretty good when revved hard. So, put simply, it’s pretty enjoyable to punt along, whether looking to eke every last bit of charge from the battery in the quest for ever-better economy figures, or when giving it a good old fashioned pasting.

    But how does the X5 40e seemingly manage to offer the best of both worlds? As mentioned it uses the fourcylinder turbocharged engine (in a 245hp state of tune) allied to a synchronous electric motor (offering 113hp and 184lb ft of torque) that’s housed within the eight-speed automatic transmission. It has an all-electric range of between 14 and 19 miles and that latter figure is actually the distance market research has shown to be the average journey by X5 owners. BMW UK has put together some figures for what it expects potential owners will achieve under certain driving conditions and these may well help you decide on whether or not it’s going to be suitable for your needs.


    In an urban commuting environment with journeys of up to 15 miles, BMW reckons you should be able to achieve 94mpg, running almost exclusively on electric power. For an owner using their X5 for trips of between 30 and 40 miles a day including commuting BMW expects returns in the mid-40s, typically 43-47mpg (better than you’d get with a diesel-powered X5) but over longer journeys (over 125 miles) the 40e is expected to return between 26 and 27mpg, making it less economical than a diesel model. All these figures assume you’re starting off with a fully charged battery pack, too, but as the X5 only takes two and a half hours to charge on a BMW i Wallbox (and three and a half from a standard 13amp socket) this shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve.


    However, it’s worth considering that fuel economy isn’t the be all and end all when considering one’s overall motoring cost. For instance, the difference between running a car that does 30mpg compared to one that does 40mpg is only around £380 a year if you do 10k miles per year. If one assumes the 40e returns the former and the 40d the latter you’d need to factor in road tax (free for the 77g/km 40e) while the 157g/km 40d would cost you £180… bringing the overall cost difference to just £200. So it’s as near as makes no difference. What makes a huge difference is if you intend on running one of these as a company car as the chasm in Benefit in Kind rates are significantly larger. An X5 40e will cost a 40 per cent tax payer a little over £3000 in tax whereas a 40d will be getting on for double that figure… and surely that’s a pretty large chunk of cash unless your surname’s Abramovich.


    There are some compromises in running the Hybrid 4x4, particularly if you wanted to spec a third row of seats in your X5, as this simply isn’t available in the 40e. Boot space is somewhat compromised too, and while it still has a virtually flat load bay its capacity is down to 500 litres (the 40d has 650) with the seats up, while maximum carrying capacity is down to 1720 for the 40e compared the 1870 for the non-hybrid models. Overall though I was impressed with the 40e and were my monthly company car allowance somewhat larger and I was interested in a large 4x4 it would undoubtedly be on my short list. I would be able to get virtually all the way to the office in pure electric mode, charge it for a couple of hours and return home in the same manner. The car’s energy management system would help here too. As well as the expected Drive Performance Control switch to toggle between Eco Pro, Comfort and Sport modes there’s a separate eDrive switch that allows you to tailor the use of the batteries to best effect. The default mode is ‘Auto eDrive’ which allows for electric driving up to around 40mph and focuses on the best efficiency. ‘Max eDrive’ will see the X5 running purely on electric power up to speeds of 75mph and the four-cylinder will only be awoken from its slumber should you either exceed that speed or use kick down. The last mode is ‘Save Battery’ which allows you to effectively shut off the electric motor to save the battery for when you get to an urban area later in your journey, and this would be ideal for me to switch off the electric side of the equation when I’m on the (mostly) open roads of Kent, reverting to battery power for the last congested slog into London. And if you use the satellite navigation system the car basically works all this out for you.

    It certainly won’t be for everyone, but the 40e’s combination of low running costs (depending on your driving needs), low company car tax and the fact that it’s actually a hoot to drive quickly when the mood happens to take you makes BMW’s first full hybrid a bit of a winner if you ask me. My only fear is that BMW won’t be able to make them fast enough…

    Interior of the 40e shares the same handsome architecture as other X5s.

    eDrive lets you make the most of hybrid modes; boot is smaller than regular X5 and there’s no seven-seat option.


    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-X5-xDrive40e-M-Sport / #BMW-X5-F15 / #BMW-X5 / #BMW-X5-xDrive40e-M-Sport-F15 / #BMW-X5-xDrive40e-F15 /

    DRIVETRAIN: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol with synchronous electric motor, eight-speed #Steptronic automatic, four-wheel drive

    MAX POWER: 245hp at 5000-6500rpm (petrol), 113hp at 3170rpm (electric motor)

    PEAK COMBINED POWER OUTPUT: 313hp
    MAX TORQUE: 258lb ft at 1250-4800rpm (petrol), 184lb ft @ 0rpm (electric motor)
    PEAK COMBINED TORQUE OUTPUT: 332lb ft
    0-62MPH: 6.8 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 130mph (limited)
    ECONOMY: 85.6mpg
    CO2 EMISSIONS: 77g/km
    PRICE (OTR): £56,705
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    2016 Audi Q7 Typ-4M vs. BMW X5 F15, Ford Endeavour and Volvo XC90 II (second gen) - comparison giant road test

    Posted in Cars on Friday, 29 January 2016

    Go Anywhere 2016 Audi Q7 Typ-4M vs. BMW X5 F15, Ford Endeavour and Volvo XC90 II (second gen) - comparison giant road test.

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    COMPARISON TEST CHARIOTS OF THE DADS #2016 / #Audi-Q7-Typ-4M / #Audi-Typ-4M / #Audi-Q7 / #Audi / #BMW-X5-F15 / #BMW-X5 / #BMW-F15 / #Land-Rover-Range-Rover-Sport-II / #Range-Rover-Sport / #Land-Rover / #Range-Rover / #Volvo-XC90-II / #Volvo-XC90 / #Volvo /



    / #Audi-Q7-3.0T-Typ-4M , #BMW-X5-xDrive35i-F15 , #Land-Rover-Range-Rover-Sport-HSE , #Volvo-XC90-T6-AWD-Inscription-II .

    LUXURY SUVS ARE NOW THE PREFERRED BATTLE WAGONS OF MONTESSORI PARKING LOTS.
    BMW X5 xDRIVE35i
    PRICE $68,270
    POWER 300 hp
    TORQUE 300 lb-ft
    WEIGHT 4974 lb
    C/D OBSERVED MPG 17


    VOLVO XC90 T6 AWD INSCRIPTION
    PRICE $67,055
    POWER 316 hp
    TORQUE 295 lb-ft
    WEIGHT 4706 lb
    C/D OBSERVED MPG 17,6

    LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER SPORT HSE
    PRICE $87,281
    POWER 340 hp
    TORQUE 332 lb-ft
    WEIGHT 5183 lb
    C/D OBSERVED MPG 15

    AUDI Q7 3.0T
    PRICE $72,875
    POWER 333 hp
    TORQUE 325 lb-ft
    WEIGHT 5080 lb
    C/D OBSERVED MPG 17


    The ramifications of the crossover — or, more accurately, the unibody SUV — are still vibrating through the luxury segment. Americans just can’t get enough of these pricey family haulers, and buyers are even beginning to choose them over like-sized sedans. To wit: Audi expects the new Q7 to outsell the A6 in a year or two, and the BMW X5 already trumps the 5-series. After only nine months on the market, the redesigned Volvo XC90 is the Swedish brand’s bestseller. And more Americans take home a Land Rover Range Rover Sport than Jaguar sells cars, a big factor in Jag’s decision to build the forthcoming F-Pace SUV.

    Practicality is a major reason these crossovers are eating away at mid-size sedan sales. So, in the interest of practicality, we decided to compare the most practical three-row versions, settling on a somewhat impractical price point of $70,000, give or take a few grand. Entering those parameters into the C/D comparators spit out the four SUVs here. To keep the playing field. The ramifications of the crossover — or, more accurately, the unibody SUV — are still vibrating through the luxury segment. Americans just can’t get enough of these pricey family haulers, and buyers are even beginning to choose them over like-sized sedans. To wit: Audi expects the new Q7 to outsell the A6 in a year or two, and the BMW X5 already trumps the 5-series. After only nine months on the market, the redesigned Volvo XC90 is the Swedish brand’s bestseller. And more Americans take home a Land Rover Range Rover Sport than Jaguar sells cars, a big factor in Jag’s decision to build the forthcoming F-Pace SUV.

    Practicality is a major reason these crossovers are eating away at mid-size sedan sales. So, in the interest of practicality, we decided to compare the most practical three-row versions, settling on a somewhat impractical price point of $70,000, give or take a few grand. Entering those parameters into the C/D comparotron spit out the four SUVs here. To keep the playing field reasonably level, we equipped each vehicle with a third row of course (optional on the BMW and Rover), power everything, a huge sunroof, active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and other safety equipment that allows these crossovers to trundle down the highway with brief moments of autonomy. Of the four we’ve gathered, the BMW X5 is the undisputed sales champ. BMW averages 45,000 South Carolina – built BMW X5 sales per year in the U.S. Present at the creation of the segment, BMW launched the X5 for 2000 and delivered the third-gen model for the 2014 model year. Add up the options and the 300hp X5 xDrive35i F15 that starts at a reasonable $57,195 swells into the $68,270 machine tested here.



    Audi didn’t sell an SUV until 2006, but the Q7 made up for its tardiness with a big dose of goodness. In the intervening years, updates kept the Q7 fresh and sales strong. The new Q7 is so new that it skips model-year 2016 entirely to jump right to 2017.


    The Audi’s price starts at $55,750, but bringing its equipment level in line with the rest of the group means ponying up $9500 for the Prestige trim level. With a few more options — such as the Driver Assistance package, adaptive air suspension, and Glacier White paint — the price rises to $72,875.

    The Volvo-XC90 is another freshly redesigned luxury crossover. Built on a new platform, the XC90 has the only four-cylinder engine in the class — but a four that is a 316-hp 2.0-liter powerhouse with both a supercharger and a turbocharger strapped to it. It does an amazing impersonation of a larger engine, but the “small heart in a big three-row SUV” strategy reminds us of the ticker in a Great Dane. Those big dogs don’t live long, and the Volvo’s 2.0-liter had us wondering how durable its hardworking heart will prove to be.

    The XC90 T6 AWD has a base price of $50,795, but the Inscription trim level’s LED headlights, walnut inlays, vented seats, and decadently soft leathers add $5600. Include the safety and luxury goods that bring parity with the rest of the group and the price goes up to $67,055, still the least expensive of the test.

    On the other end of the price scale is the Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE, a chunk of aluminum that starts at $65,945 but runs to $87,281 when equipped as the others. We could chip away at a few options, such as the Meridian Premium Audio system ($1850), the towing package ($650), black-lacquer wood ($350), rubber mats ($537), and wheel locks ($134), but even without all that, the Range Rover Sport is still more than $80,000. We considered the less dear LR4, but concluded that its body-on-frame architecture — what Land Rover calls integrated body frame — would make it an outlier in the group.

    Also considered, but cut for its lack of a third row, was the Mercedes-Benz-GLE (formerly the M-class). To get a third row in a Benz SUV requires the larger and more expensive GLS, or the SUV formerly known as the GL-class. We didn’t include the GLS out of concern that its size and price were excessive for this test. This was admittedly before we found out the Range Rover Sport’s as-tested price. Other three-row lux SUVs, such as the Acura MDX, Infiniti QX60, Lexus GX470, and Lincoln MKT, were all deemed too inexpensive, hence this fab four.

    4. BMW-X5-xDrive35i-F15

    What is the strongest-selling #SUV of the bunch, the one that basically invented the segment, doing in the caboose?

    After all, it has the safety and electronic features to play in this game, and its $68,270 price undercuts all but the Volvo. Under the hood is BMW’s superb turbocharged inline-six. It whirs and purrs with a nearly magical lack of vibration or harshness, delivering big, smooth power and decent fuel economy. Its zero-to-60 run is second only to the Q7’s, and its 4974-pound mass is lighter than the aluminum-rich Audi and Land Rover. More upright than the Q7 and the Landie, the X5 has an expansive greenhouse and a panoramic view out. Drive any of the other three, however, and the X5 disappoints. The light steering stiffens up in sport mode, but nothing can change the BMW’s lack of steering precision.



    It requires more corrections on straight roads than the others need. A soft suspension soaks up bumps and the structure is unshakable, but there’s a pause before the chassis takes a set. The body leans more than the other three, and the stability control steps in more than we’d like, even when the X5 claims “DSC off.” The BMW posted the slowest slalom speed and the second-lowest grip (0.79 g). The tires almost feel overinflated even at their recommended pressures. Features editor Jeff Sabatini lamented the X5’s lack of BMWness. “Kind of shocked how little it feels like a BMW. It’s missing that planted and in-control driving quality that made BMW famous,” he wrote. The rest of us agreed, which is why the X5 places last in the fun-to-drive category.


    New for 2014, the X5 suffers from premature aging. Inside, the dour black interior is uninspired, dull, and dated. This looks like a $50,000 SUV, not one pushing $70,000. Displays in the gauge cluster, head-up unit, and center screen lack the clarity and sophistication of the ones in the Volvo and Audi. The LED lighting in the doors and instrument panel appears to be an afterthought. BMW’s analog gauges, though, are a welcome bit of timeless style. Back-seat riders get big windows and good legroom. The wayback cushion is low, forcing knees up into chests, and headroom there is severely lacking and the worst of the group. This row should only be used for short distances. Presumably to assuage the suffering of third-row contortionists, BMW gives them their own climate vents.


    No one praised the X5’s exterior styling. Road-test editor Mike Sutton was the kindest when he called it “forgettable.” The available $4450 M Sport package greatly improves the curb appeal, but when it costs that much to make a nearly $70,000 SUV look good, that’s a problem. BMW might have invented this segment, but it has since been reinvented by someone else.

    2017 #BMW-X5-xDrive35i-F15

    + BMW still builds great engines. Lighter than the two aluminum-rich SUVs in this test.
    - Dull design, dull dynamics, tight third row.
    = A game changer whose game has been changed.

    Somehow, the BMW was the worst-handling SUV in this test. Its tight third row and paucity of features didn’t help, either.

    3. Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE

    There was a moment of disbelief when we discovered that the Range Rover Sport can be ordered with a third row. Next we expect to learn that the Morgan 3 Wheeler offers a tow package. How could this Land Rover possibly slip a third row under that sloping roofline?

    Well, it did, but just barely. Those two little seats are usable in a pinch, but even kids won’t want to ride there for long. The only concessions to comfort are two head-shaped cutouts in the headliner that provide a little extra noggin space. So Land Rover checks the third-row box, but only by using copious quantities of design Vaseline.

    A more pleasant surprise from Land Rover is that the RR Sport is more fun and agile than the BMW. The steering is accurate, body motions are kept in check, and the supercharged V6 pulls ferociously if a bit coarsely. Two counter-rotating balance weights diminish the shakes of this 90-degree V6, converted from a V8, but the engine’s grittiness results in the most noise at full whack. It’s the thirstiest at 15 mpg, and it’s the heaviest of the group at 5183 pounds despite its aluminum structure.

    But it’s also incredibly solid and sub-stantial and feels grandiose as it presses the road into submission. It delivers a sense of Arthurian invincibility as you peer over the square-jawed front end. Nothing can stop you, except for maybe the odd British relay going kablooey. If only Rover could make the interior trim as solid as the platform. We didn’t hear rattles, but the passenger’s-side vent trim pulled off in someone’s idle hands.

    Land Rover saves its best interior stuff for the top-of-the-line Range Rover, base price of $85,945. In black, the lesser Sport’s interior looks plain, the design appearing to be five years old. Or maybe that’s just an uncharitable way of saying it’s classic. In any case, a contrasting leather color would brighten up the space. The jeweled gauge faces are a tacky reminder that you didn’t spend for the optional TFT digital display, included in a $10,045 HST Limited Edition package. Both the Volvo and the Audi have interiors to rival the “real” Range Rover. The old touch screen works well, even if the display graphics are more BlackBerry than iPhone. And it’s a reach to get to some of the functions on the far side of the screen’s bezel. Help is on the way, though: The 2016 has a new infotainment system.

    (Land Rover supplied a 2015 model, basically the same as the 2016, for this test.) To move up in the three-row luxury- SUV ranking, the Range Rover Sport needs a big price cut, a richer-looking interior, and a real third row. While the top two finishers might not be as lordly as they roll through traffic, they’re both more modern, efficient, and entertaining to drive. Plus, they’re considerably less expensive.

    LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER SPORT HSE

    + A solid hunk of SUV, outhandles the BMW.
    - Behind the times inside. If the price doesn’t make your monocle fall out, the third row will.
    = Too much money, not enough practicality.

    The V6 that powers this Range Rover Sport is literally a V8 with two of its cylinders left empty. It makes good power, but it’s noisy.


    2. Volvo XC90 T6 AWD Inscription Three years ago, Volvo hired Robin Page, Bentley’s interior design chief. Smart move. Judging from the XC90’s interior, the man deserves a raise.

    Forget the other SUVs in this test; this interior is suitable for a vehicle costing twice as much as the XC90. Delicate, impossibly soft leather covers the seats, doors, and instrument panel. Even the key is covered in the stuff. Volvo calls the colour Amber, and it’s reminiscent of a honeyhued Ferrari interior.


    But the Volvo is more than just hides. Every button, bob, and stitch looks chosen for its quality and appearance, not its price. Nickel-plated bezels frame piano-black switchgear, and the sliding cup-holder cover is a flawless and intricate piece of woodwork. It all blends together harmoniously and the fits are precise and beautiful, like a Bentley designed by Italians and assembled by Germans.

    Volvo makes great seats, and these heated and cooled front thrones are no exception. Soft, supportive, and graced with adjustable thigh support, the view from these chairs is commanding. A large, iPad-like touch screen in the middle of the dashboard buries its menus, but finding what you need does get easier with some practice. Still, it usually takes two inputs to accomplish a task as simple as disabling the automatic stop-start system.

    In the middle row, the occupants sit perched above the first, as in a theatre, and the high roof gives the impression of spaciousness. Even the third row is comfortable. The two seats sit well off the floor, and the space is suitable for adults. Volvo earns straight As for the passenger-hauling part of this test.


    Fitted with the optional air suspension, the XC90 soaks up the worst roads and will charge down the best ones. Zero-effort steering becomes heavier and more tactile in dynamic mode. The XC90 suppresses body roll, and there’s a nimbleness here missing from the others, even if that doesn’t show up in the slalom results (blame stability-control intervention). The Volvo is 268 pounds lighter than the X5 and nearly 400 pounds lighter than the Q7, though a few drivers did complain about creaks coming through the structure on rough pavement and steep driveways.

    Volvo’s supercharged and turbocharged mighty mite has excellent throttle response in dynamic mode, but that doesn’t change the fact that the XC90’s 6.0-second zero-to-60 sprint is the slowest in the test. We’d be more forgiving if the engine made interesting noises, but Volvo appears to want to hide the fact that this crossover even has an engine. A thick foam and- plastic cover sits on top of the four to silence it, but at higher revs an anguished groan penetrates the sound deadening. The Audi and the BMW sixes sound much better. Volvo’s four pays no fuel-economy dividend, either. Its as tested 17 mpg is identical to the BMW and Audi sixes.

    Elegant from headlight to taillight, the Volvo is a piece of art that is perhaps not the ideal place for a four-cylinder engine.

    VOLVO XC90 T6 AWD INSCRIPTION

    + Interior mastery, steering you can feel, three rows of comfort.
    - A stressed four tries its little heart out in a six-cylinder segment.
    = Submit to the seduction of a beautiful Swede.

    The XC90 is such a pleasant and practical vehicle that it would easily have won this comparison test were it not for that pesky Audi.


    1. 2017 Audi Q7 3.0T

    Every driver who stepped out of the Volvo was ready to declare it the winner. And then they stepped into the Audi. The Q7 is a 5080-pound sanctuary of aluminium and steel. Within a mile, you’ll forget the beautiful Swede you left behind.

    The Audi combines the structural goodness and solidity of the Land Rover with the deftness of the Volvo. Actually, the Q7 is even more carlike than the XC90. In its sportiest mode, the optional air suspension lowers the ride height, and the Q7 does a passable imitation of an Audi sedan. The optional four-wheel-steering system (part of the $4000 air-suspension package) provides an eerie stability at speed and surprising nimbleness in town. Wide tires, size 285/45R-20, offer 0.85 g of stick, and while the steering lacks the clear voice of the Volvo’s, we can’t fault its precision. The Q7 quickly emerged as the most fun to drive. Some of the joy comes from the 333hp supercharged V6. Despite the second-highest curb weight, the blown Audi posted a best-in-test 5.5-second run to 60. Audi’s V6 snarls a pleasing tune, and only the straight-six in the BMW sounds better.

    Volvo’s design team may have trumped Audi’s interior designers, but the Audi’s cabin is still a class above the Land Rover’s and the BMW’s. There is artistry in the way the leather and wood seamlessly butt up against modern tech like the large MMI touchpad.

    From the driver’s seat, a head-up display and two big TFT screens vie for your attention. A display that can be configured to show trip information, engine-related dials, or a detailed map replaces traditional gauges. At night, on a fogged-in mountain stretch of California state route 58, the map right in front of the driver showed the way around the next corner. None of the other SUVs’ maps could provide that level of detail.

    The Audi can’t quite match the Volvo’s passenger-hauling capability, but it comes close. There’s no theatre-style seating in the second row, as in the Volvo, but head-, leg-, and shoulder room are plentiful. Third-row riders will find more space and comfort in the Audi than in the BMW or the Land Rover, but the Volvo is still champ. Although the Volvo tugged at our emotions with its design, Audi earns the win with execution, packaging, and driving pleasure.

    The Q7 is the quickest and most fun-to-drive rig in this test. That it makes no sacrifice in utility for its performance means it’s the winner.

    2017 AUDI Q7 3.0T

    + Blends practicality, technology, refinement, and driving dynamics in a way that eludes the others.
    - Audi loses the design competition to Volvo.
    = Perhaps not the most emotional choice, but definitely the best choice.
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