NEW FOR 2008:

– Line-up reduced to 3.6 Premium and 4.2 Premium
– 3.6 model adds 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, auto-dimming mirror with compass, six-CD premium stereo, satellite preparation, chrome roof rails and window trim, light package, driver information screen, power front seats with lumbar, power tailgate and privacy glass
– 4.2 model deletes garage door opener, adds Audi Music Interface, 20-inch wheels, wooden gear selector knob, front and rear parking assist with rearview camera, panorama sunroof, navigation system and SIRIUS Satellite Radio

Now in its second year, the Audi Q7 refines its line-up for 2008. The first SUV to bear the Audi name, the Q7 goes from the four base and Premium models of 2007 to two models, both in Premium trim, with available add-ons. The new models are priced between the base and Premium models of 2007. The Q7 is named for its Quattro all-wheel drive and its slot in the Audi line-up between the A6 and A8.

The Q7 is available as the 3.6 Premium, with 3.6-litre narrow-angle V6 engine, and as the 4.2 Premium, with 4.2-litre V8. Both use a six-speed automatic with Tiptronic manual shift mode and all-wheel drive. Seating is five-passenger in the 3.6 Premium and seven-passenger in the 4.2 Premium; the 3.6 Premium can be optioned to seven-passenger seating, and both models can be optioned to six-passenger seating with the addition of second-row captain’s chairs instead of a bench.

Features on the 3.6 Premium include 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic dual-zone climate control, 12-way heated leather seats, speed-sensitive steering, tilt and telescopic leather-wrapped wheel with audio controls, heated washer nozzles, privacy glass, front and rear fog lights, automatic headlamps, power tailgate, cruise control, 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat, auto-dimming mirror with compass, driver information centre, rain-sensing wipers, rear wiper, anti-theft alarm system, six-CD stereo, and power mirrors with integrated turn signals.

The 4.2 Premium adds 20-inch alloy wheels, power tilt and telescopic column, three-panel panorama sunroof, self-levelling bi-Xenon headlamps, manual sunshades in rear doors and tailgate, parking assist with rear-view camera, auto-dimming mirrors, driver’s side memory, heated rear seats, 50/50 split-folding third-row seat, wood trim, navigation system, Bluetooth hands-free cellular phone system, Bose premium stereo with iPod adaptability, and SIRIUS Satellite Radio.

Seriously luxurious, the Q7 ups the ante by offering only the Premium trim lines. Audi calls it a performance SUV, but there’s a lot of machine to pull around here, and even the V8 can lack off-the-line thrust when asked. Handling is exemplary, though, and it’s firmly planted even on hard corners. The third-row seats are cramped and mostly for youngsters, but the second row offers almost limousine-style comfort, especially with the optional two-passenger row. Available options include adjustable air suspension, adaptive headlamps, blind spot assistance and adaptive cruise control.

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