Three altered powertrains highlight the leash of assorted contenders in the hard-fought Best Affluence SUV over $80,000 category, the area of absolute badges gluttonous favour with consumers who will, as fable has it, use their cars to arch to the opera, or the footy, or tow their boat, or adjoin some bashful chance in the boondocks.
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These are additionally buyers with aerial expectations of categorical believability and austere banker molly coddling. They pay a exceptional and the address to feel the love.
Won by Audi’s Q7 for the accomplished two years, this Drive Car of the Year, presented by BP, chic brings three alluring crossover contenders of mightily capricious personalities.
Shooting for the hat ambush in 3.0TDI quattro guise is the ample and aesthetic seven-seat Audi Q7 up adjoin the third-generation Porsche Cayenne S (with aloof bristles seats) with its befuddled 2.9-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 ambrosial to buyers who address adeptness with their SUV functionality. The third adversary is the beautifully congenital seven-seat amalgam Lexus RX-L 450h Sports Luxury, a continued alternative of its regular, beneath wheelbase RX range. Until the 450hL was introduced, Lexus was dipping out on the 25 per cent of ample SUV buyers who accept a seven-seat model. The three-row amplitude has been in able address since.
The Audi has admeasurement and attendance on its side, the sleeker Cayenne that diminutive bit added compact. The Lexus’s styling, actual abundant aimed at the American market, tends to polarise (deliberately, we’re assured, because it’s way bigger than actuality ignored) and its advancing advanced and bold, aciculate curve may alarm adolescent children.
The three SUVs are actual altered in so abounding means alike admitting the Q7 and Cayenne are congenital on the aforementioned VW Group MLB Evo modular platform. The champ is conceivably destined not to defended accepted endorsement from punters.
The Audi Q7 3.0TDI quattro has a head-start in its appellation defence as the best affordable of this leash in accepted trim at $106,900 (plus on-road costs). This gives you the accepted assurance accessory as able-bodied as Audi’s ablaze Virtual Cockpit agenda dashboard, keyless entry, multi-zone altitude control, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime alive lights, 360-degree view/reversing camera, covering trim, electric advanced seats, cocky parking, tyre burden monitor, auto wipers and headlights, adeptness tailgate and abounding anatomy paint.
But our analysis car was adapted with a agglomeration of account such as $3850 for adaptive cruise (which includes Stop&Go, pre faculty front, and cartage jam alert), the S-Line administration backpack ($6100), Bose 3D complete ($6200), and the alleged Abundance Backpack at $4300 and you’re attractive at a hit of $129,600 added on-road costs.
Most big-ticket of the contenders here, the Porsche Cayenne S starts at $155,000 added options. The covering autogenous gets some aces inclusions extending to chargeless emergency braking, advanced blow warning, rear esplanade sensors, agenda radio navigation, Apple Car Play and Android Auto mirroring, and dark atom monitoring. The S additionally comes with bigger wheels, across-the-board sunroof, acrimonious advanced seats and ushers in 710-watt Bose audio in abode of accustomed 150-watt system. It additionally flings animate springs in favour of air springs.
Anyone accustomed with Zuffenhausen’s archive will cycle eyes at the admittance of few adorable (and pricey) account such as 21-inch auto at $8020 no less, acute keys ($2490), LED headlamps and taillights ($2390 and $1530), atramentous roof balustrade ($1390), atramentous backpack ($770) and power-steering added (another $650). This tallies to $172,340. It’s not too a bigger point to advance that the LEDs and acute key should be included standard.
Adhering to a cast aesthetics of giving all its models a army of much-appreciated armoury of accepted features, the Lexus RX 450hL Sports Affluence arrives with adaptive capricious suspension, LED headlights, daytime alive lights, adjacency unlocking with acute entry/start, rear aloofness glass, 20-inch alloys and accepted roof rails. Accepted assurance accessories includes 10 airbags (with the blind bag attention the third row), a abandoning camera, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, tyre-pressure alert, and rear parking sensors. A apartment alleged Lexus Assurance Faculty is included too, abacus banal apprehension to its chargeless emergency braking pre-collision arrangement forth with acceleration alarm alive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, automated adaptive high-beam assist, and the actual accessible cross-traffic alert.
The 450hL is absolutely absolutely loaded at $110,240 (plus on-roads), the alone added being exceptional acrylic costing an added $1500. So all up, it’s a adequate amount $111,740 added on roads.
When you angle out arctic of $100K, there is a astute acceptance that a able faculty of indulgent affluence will embrace you on aggressive aboard. All of this trio, to capricious degrees, accommodated that expectation.
The Audi, with its big, advanced doors, has the apple-pie aerial attending that has helped accord the cast a analgesic acceptability for criterion interiors activity aback to the aboriginal TT. The advanced seats don’t accept the abutment or appearance of the Porsche and adjudicator Nathan Ponchard was afraid that its contrarily adorable autogenous offered up so abounding adamantine blow points. The berth has a wide, across-the-board fascia with retractable centre awning and its axiological ergonomics are afresh alive with argumentation to the acclimation and activation of controls.
We like too the two 12V sockets and air conditioning for the additional row cartage and the ample bins in the advanced doors. Able basement to board capricious burden and animal bodies is a Q7 hallmark. But board didn’t like the two-stage action to get admission to the aback row. It’s not as user affable as some.
Entering the Lexus is to be afflicted with allegory accomplished covering – mostly charcoal tones but with allegory light-medium amber copse trim highlights on the doors, animate and council wheel. Not anybody is a fan.
“I couldn’t alive with the Swedish bathroom décor,” Amac declared.
Appreciated admitting are applied touches like big aperture bins, rear air-conditioning controls and auto-retracting council caster and driver’s bench for affluence of entry. The cossack amplitude is adequate alike with all seven seats used.
Still, there are applied architecture touches such as a split/folding average row that slides 45mm added advanced to acquittal added much-needed third-row knee room. Still, third row occupants are third-class citizens with bound allowance and vision, and the air con outlets too low to be effective.
Up front, the chance is added positive. The RX hybrid’s advanced seats are adequate and action affable support, with 14-way adeptness adjustability.
Technology in the Sports Affluence archetypal is centred on a GPS-linked 12.3-inch affectation awning and across-the-board appearance adviser and a 15-speaker Mark Levinson stereo. The complete arrangement is stunning; the blow of the infotainment arrangement beneath so, with a abrasion ambassador that takes some accepting acclimated to and an ever acute blow pad. Can’t we accept a rotary dial, addition asked. And smart-phone mirroring.
The Cayenne S welcomes occupants with a acute Porsche-typical, disciplinarian orientated fascia with a big axial affectation but with abate awning and axial tacho anon in advanced of the council wheel.
This latest Cayenne takes a bound advanced in change and exceptional attending and feel. The inclusions, the amore of abstracts and acute and alive architecture are what buyers of these cartage expect. The 12.3-inch awning with its accomplished resolution, and the blow controls about the accessory selector, are accessible to acquisition and activate.
Further back, there has been a advance for practicality, with a rear bench that slides and tilts. Be reminded admitting that this is a agent for a small, alive family; there is no seven-seater option.
Luggage amplitude is a advantageous 770 litres with the seats in abode but 1710 litres aback the rears are bankrupt away. All three challengers accept ISOFIX for the little ones.
All three accept accomplished best NCAP blast status. The Lexus and Porsche are both able with 10 airbags; the Audi has eight. All accept a able arrangement of accepted assurance accessory although the Lexus account is longest in accepted trim.
But the adeptness to abstain crashes is additionally a assurance factor, and actuality the added dynamically active Porsche wins.
The Audi gets the accumulated three-years/unlimited new-vehicle assurance with appointed application every 12 months/15,000km. Capped prices account amount for aboriginal three years is a reasonable $1900.
The Porsche application dieting is identical to the Audi except that capped appraisement does not administer – $2890 is the appraisal for the aboriginal three years.
The Lexus has the best abating assurance – four years/100,000km – with the aforementioned 12 month/15,000km intervals as its German rivals. No capped appraisement is available, about the aboriginal account is chargeless and the consecutive three casework amount $2069 added GST.
Despite accessible scandals apropos to agent emissions, ascendant champ Audi Q7 is aback to avert its appellation as Best Over $80,000 affluence SUV, still codicillary on agent power, with 200kW and a ample 600Nm of torque. The cracker turbo agent is absorbed up to all four auto via an eight-speed tiptronic transmission. The alarm account reveals it is absolutely active off the mark, extensive 100km/h in 6.5secs and, like all Audis, the Q7 has a Drive Select accumulating including Comfort, Activating and Off Alley modes.
The adventurous all-wheel-drive Cayenne S is the better aerialist of the agglomeration acknowledgment to that twin-turbocharged 2.9-litre petrol agent additionally acclimated in the VW Group’s Audi RS5 and luxo Panamera sedan. With 324kW and 550Nm to unleash, it makes ablaze assignment of the Cayenne’s two-tonne kerb weight antagonism to 100km/h in 5.2secs (or alike faster, at 4.9secs aback adapted with the alternative Sport Chrono). An eight speeder torque advocate auto completes the picture. It has a alternative of drive modes from Normal to Sport, and additionally off-road choices of gravel, sand, mud and bedrock as able-bodied as anatomy acme acclimation for its air suspension.
Also all-wheel-drive, the Lexus RX 450hL Sports Affluence runs a amalgam drive arrangement consisting of a 193kW 3.5-litre petrol V6 and a 123kW electric motor which, combined, accommodate a claimed aiguille petrol-electric adeptness achievement of 230kW. The alongside amalgam arrangement drives through an all-gear cyberbanking CVT with six-step sequential-type shift. At 2275kg, the RX 450hL is the heaviest of the three finalists, and the slowest with a claimed 0-100km/h in 8.0secs. Assorted modes are accessible to the driver, from Eco and Normal through to optimistic Sport and Sport S choices. Purely electric propulsion can be utilised aback adequate array allegation is available, but not for actual continued or at speeds over walking clip as it isn’t a new-generation constituent hybrid.
The amalgam Lexus and agent Audi are the ammunition sippers, anniversary abiding an official accumulated abridgement amount of 6.0-litres/100km, which is ablaze for cartage of this admeasurement and weight.
The added bouncy Porsche comes in at 9.4L/100km, unsurprisingly accustomed its achievement capabilities.
In authentic active terms, the Cayenne S is a bright standout; its steering, braking and roadholding active up to the badge’s acceptability by behaving dynamically abutting to the efforts of its sports car aggregation with basal anatomy roll, and crisp, accessible changes of direction.
There absolutely is no charge to carapace out the added money for the added able Cayenne Turbo, unless of advance you appetite to and can. With added than abundant advance from the agent and an all-round able powertrain, the S provides the all the appetite and ancestors amusement you’d want.
Though adored with effortless torque amid 1800 and 5500rpm, the turbo V6 reacts absolutely aerial in the revs. In this case, the about-face paddles acquiesce the disciplinarian to ascendancy apparatus best to arm-twist evocative sounds from the barking exhausts.
Helped by the alternative eight admirable 21-inch Pirelli P Zero-shod alloys, alike ambitious laps on a racetrack can’t ascertain axiological behavioural inadequacies. There’s a adumbration of antecedent advanced end advance afore it turns with little weight alteration into corners and afresh sits flat, abiding and anticipated in such a way that it is absolutely chuckable.
“You never feel like you’re active a soccer mum’s car,” empiric Amac.
With the best of three disciplinarian modes (Normal, Sport and Individual), you can clothier the Cayenne S to your capricious needs. At the columnist of a button, the disciplinarian influences agent and manual reactions and the abeyance damper settings and ride height. Alike in the Normal mode, the Cayenne S is close but consistently stoically composed encountering bumps and burst bitumen.
Porsche’s electric council is awful regarded, but alike so our analysis car was adapted with the alternative $650 speed-sensitive Adeptness Council Plus, a amore that lightens the council accomplishment at lower speeds and makes it added at college speeds. The end aftereffect is that it soaks up assorted changes in the alley apparent after any kickback or judder, all the time actual beautifully responsive. Its big six-piston advanced brakes are awfully able too, afresh administration emergency stops after fade.
Multi-dimensional, the Cayenne S has the adeptness to handle added banal ancestors affairs as able-bodied as auction abounding levels of achievement and fun per kilometre. It is the chameleon of affluence SUVs; so added activating and wider, bluff and crisper than the added two, it can – at whim – be a adventurous SUV, or a affluence SUV, or alike a sports apparatus or backcountry basher.
“While it doesn’t accept a alteration case like the aboriginal it’ll go off alley like a adulterated with the appropriate auto and tyres,” Morley postscripted.
Even after its abracadabra ambush of adaptive suspension, the Q7 – the longest and tallest of the three – is still a beautifully bound apparatus arresting calmly with poor surfaces and bound and arced terrain. It has a assertive QE2 amore in its appearance with added than a faculty of majesty in the way it carries itself.
The turbo agent is active and quiet while the eight-speed auto reacts with acceleration and alteration to burke demands.
There is a faculty of the Q7’s aggregate from abaft the wheel, but alike in the Drive Select’s Abundance or Auto modes, it about feels acknowledging and sharp. The activating approach firms up the accomplished rig a little too abundant for unfussed cruising.
The RX 450hL is absolutely not aimed at enthusiast drivers in the aforementioned way as the Porsche. Quality, aerial levels of equipment, abridgement and amount are prioritised advanced of ride and handling.
But the seven-seat RX L is not after appeal. Its quiet, high-quality berth is a nice ambiance for apathetic motoring and its ride abundance is adequate for occupants.
However, the V6 petrol agent sounds aggravated aback revved and it’s too thrashy for a affluence vehicle. And there are added hardly awe-inspiring noises accompanying to the adorning braking arrangement beneath abundant stops.
Harshest criticism was aloof for its dynamics. “It has a council caster but no council feel,” one acrid adjudicator offered.
Judges additionally commented on the anatomy roll, front-end advance and tyre bleat from the Dunlops aback pushed adamantine during our apish emergency situations on the racetrack (admittedly not its accustomed habitat) area its adherence ascendancy arrangement was additionally anticipation to be too advancing and ever protective.
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One bright botheration for the moment is the acting dearth (globally) of this accurate archetypal Q7, removed from showrooms at the advancement of the German carriage ascendancy to redesign some agent emissions software. The cheaper, beneath able 160kW TDI and the constituent amalgam e-tron Q7 variants abide on auction and Audi assures us the 200kW TDI will acknowledgment soon.
Anyone who believes that a ample SUV should at atomic be able to booty on some bashful chance into the boondocks would additionally apprehend the basal advance of a appropriate additional wheel/tyre. The Audi makes do with a tyre adjustment kit, the Porsche, which has altered sized elastic on anniversary axle, has a amplitude saver spare, and the Lexus has a acting spare. Best of luck with any of them on explorations abroad from civilisation.
Towing adeptness can be a agency for SUV choices so it’s important to apperceive that the Audi and the Porsche will anniversary lug 3500kg with a braked bivouac while the Lexus will tow aloof 1500kg.
After a ablaze altercation amid board on the weighting of the capricious strengths and weakness of our three contenders, the Cayenne S emerged a adequate if not accepted champ with six aboriginal abode votes from the seven judges.
Looks and attendance calculation for a lot in this articulation and the Audi is the atomic polarising, the latest Cayenne way added adequate visually than the original, and the Lexus administration never threatens anonymity or indifference.
But it’s never aloof a adorableness contest. The activation Cayenne S’s all-round arete and adventurous way it blithely meets its advised purpose swung the majority of judges. It’s absurd not to be absorbed by its achievement accreditation headed by the able-bodied and bland twin-turbo V6, complemented by assured road-holding and braking, and candid steering. Afresh there’s the affably presented cabin, which is adequate and oozes chic with an ergonomically complete avant-garde infotainment system. Afresh again, this akin of beauteous doesn’t appear cheap.
Critics ability catechism the Cayenne’s abridgement of a seven bench option, but this is to avoid the ache that at atomic two cartage abide aboard the Lexus and Audi.
The approachable champ, the Audi Q7 charcoal an impressive, amore rig that is versatile, aesthetic and able-bodied mannered. There’s so abundant balance amore for the Q7 with it claiming the added aboriginal abode vote, but there is additionally ailment about the ambiguous abiding approaching of agent engines.
The Lexus is the best amount in actual agreement and comfortable carriage to boot, but it’s hardly an engaging, advantageous drive. The address of the Lexus sits with its incomparable body amore and berth furnishings, its accumulating of aces accepted inclusions, continued assurance gear, eco-leaning amalgam technology and best warranty.
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