Jan. 20, 2015 – Update by Mark Stevenson, photos by Mark Stevenson and Brendan McAleer from 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
With the backdrop of the Detroit Auto Show, the Audi Q7 seems at home.
America – with its history of gobbling up bigger and bigger cars as much as possible, the utility and truck markets are again exploding. Automakers like Hyundai, Kia, and Volkswagen have seen dips in sales due to their lack of utility and truck choice. For others, especially when you get into the premium marques, the truck part of that sales equation becomes less of a problem.
Audi, with a range of utilities – Q3, Q5, and Q7 – is equipped to take on the demand of the American marketplace. However, it’s not the US of A proving to be the biggest boom. If you really want your investment portfolio to succeed as an automaker, you must look East.
First-time novice, second-time master
When Audi decides to get into a segment, the formula always seems to work the same way. Build a product that changes the segment in a way – mix it up. For the second generation, innovate upon the original and make it something more than the sum of its parts.
The original Audi TT performed this disruption maneuver when the first generation was released in 1998. It changed what we thought a sporty little coupe could be.
By the second generation, Audi had studied their TT for seven years in the real world. There were complains and Audi analyzed the faults of the first-generation car. Once they thoroughly incorporated all their newfound solutions, the second-generation car was much more than the original TT could ever be.
While the utilities segment isn’t as fun, fancy, or exciting as sports cars, the same formula applies. The Q7 shook up the segment (slightly) upon its launch. Then, when all the dust settled, Audi decided they could do it a hell of a lot better than they had done previously.
Bigger does not always mean bigger
If the face of the well-practiced method of building a car bigger on the outside to make it bigger on the inside, Audi has been a clever German engineer – make it smaller outside and give occupants more space inside.
By relying on more high-strength materials for body construction and taking a methodical approach to packaging, the Q7 offers the longest cabin in its class while shortening the exterior length. Part of this comes down to mounting the engine lower so the cabin can come forward. But, the remainder is mainly due to a methodical approach to interior design and engineering, taking on each component piecemeal to create a roomier interior cabin.