Audi’s range-topping flagship performance SUV features a new gasoline V-8 engine

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The 2020 Audi SQ7 is the facelifted, range-topping version of the second-generation midsize SUV. Unveiled alongside its regular sibling, the 2020 SQ7 sports a revised front fascia and a new interior borrowed from the Q8. More importantly, it’s the first iteration of the SQ7 that features a gasoline engine. Launched in 2016, the SQ7 was a diesel-only model up until now. The gas-powered 2020 SQ7 features a turbocharged, 4.0-liter V-8 engine that generates 500 horsepower, making it the most powerful Q7 model yet. It’s also the quickest to 62 mph. The arrival of the 2020 SQ7 gives Audi a proper alternative to the BMW X5 M50i and the Mercedes-Benz GLE 580. Find out more about this high-performance SUV in the review below.

Exterior

  • New front fascia
  • Sharper, thinner grille frame
  • Revised front bumper vents
  • "SQ7" badge on the grille
  • Unique mirror caps
  • Larger wheels
  • New taillights
  • Quad tailpipes
  • Black Optic visual package
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Audi changed quite a few things with this facelift, so the SQ7's has plenty of new features to make it stand out.

Of course, the overall layout of the front fascia remains unchanged, but Audi dropped the rectangular headlamps, which were kind of boring, in favor of new lights that are sharper toward the grille and wider toward the fenders. The cluster is also new, now with arrow-shaped LED elements at the bottom. Just like on the regular Q7, you can opt for HD Matrix and Laserlight headlamps.

The singleframe grille isn’t exactly new, but Audi made just enough changes to make it stand out. While it’s just as big as on the old model, it features sharper corners, like recently redesigned sedans like the A6 and A8. Audi also added vertical slats, whereas the old model had only horizontal bars. The frame at the top is also much thinner than before. With six vertical slats across the grille, the SUV sports a more aggressive stance. The frame and the slats are finished in a platinum-like color, a bit different than the chrome seen on the standard model.

2020 Audi SQ7 Exterior
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The bumper sports the same layout with vents onto the sides, but they are a bit larger than before. Instead of two horizontal slats, these vents now feature three horizontal bars and a winglet-like element at the outer edge. The lower surrounds that run into the corners of the grille have a more aggressive design, so the SUV looks sportier too. The front fascia is rounded off a splitter finished in aluminum look. Although Audi mentions an S-type front bumper, the element is actually very similar to the standard Q7. The only feature that really sets it apart from its regular sibling is the "SQ7" badge on the grille.

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The profile is also identical to the standard model, which in turn remains similar to the outgoing Q7. This is far from surprising for a facelift. The SUV does sport new character lines on the side skirts, while the S package adds alu-optic mirror caps. Unlike the regular Q7, the SQ7 comes with 20-inch wheels as standard. You can also opt for 21-inch rims in a V-spoke design and two-tone finish, as well as 22-inch Audi Sport rollers wrapped in summer performance tires.

2020 Audi SQ7 Exterior
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T

he rear of the SQ7 features redesigned taillights that seem based on the A6 Avant.

They’re more angular than before and become wider toward the outer edges. They’re also connected between them by a chrome strip that runs through the lower area of the taillights and then across the tailgate between the Audi rings badge and the license place recess. The rear bumper boasts a revised diffuser-like element that now includes a unique inlay on the SQ7 model. Paired with the quad tailpipe design, the bumper is the main feature that sets the SQ7 apart from the regular Q7.

But if you really want your SQ7 to stand out, Audi offers an optional Black Optic package that includes a black singleframe grille, black mirror caps, black roof rails, and 21-inch two-tone wheels with summer performance tires.

Interior

  • Borrowed from the Q8
  • Continuous air-vent strip
  • Infotainment screen in the center stack
  • Storage in the center console
  • 12.3-inch instrument cluster
  • Illuminated door sills
  • Sporty seats
  • diamond-cross stitching
  • adjustable seats
  • wood trim as standard
  • Spacious trunk
  • Good passenger space
2020 Audi SQ7 Interior
- image 897793
The interior of the revised Q7 is actually quite different than the outgoing model, which is rather unexpected for a facelift.

Based on the Q8, it features a continuous air-vent strip at the top of the dashboard, while the lower section is finished in gloss black, matching the wide infotainment screen when it’s turned off. The infotainment display is now set in the center stack, while on the previous model, it was placed atop the dash. A secondary screen placed at the top of the center console takes inputs for the heating and air conditioning system. The center console is also borrowed from the Q8, so it’s a bit wider and includes a storage area on the passenger side.

The fully digital instrument cluster measures 12.3 inches and displays information related to the drivetrain and the navigation system. You can choose between three different views, selectable from the multi-function steering wheel, including a sporty one with a focus on performance information. Naturally, this look is unique to the SQ7.

What sets the Audi SQ7 apart from the regular Q7?

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On top of these, the SQ7 comes with a handful of extra features. There’s a steering wheel with shift paddles and "S" emblem, as well as stainless steel door sills with illuminated "S" logo. The seats are sportier than the regular Q7 and are available in black, Rotor Gray, or Arras Red leather with diamond cross-stitching. Not only heated as standard, but the seats are also eight-way power-adjustable and feature four-way lumbar adjustment. Audi offers ventilation and massage functions for the front seats.

Unlike the Q7, the SQ7 is fitted with gray oak wood trim as standard.

Pay extra, and you can get Carbon Vector inlays on the dashboard and the door panels. Wi-Fi hotspot, voice control, parking information, and weather updates come standard with the new infotainment system. You can also opt for a four-zone climate system, an Alcantara headliner, and front seats in Valcona leather.

Is the new Audi SQ7 roomier than the old model?

2020 Audi Q7 Interior
- image 886779

Despite the revised layout, passenger space remains unchanged compared to the outgoing model. Like before, the second-row seats feature a split 35/30/35 layout for the backrests. They also include fore and aft adjustments. The standard third-row seats come with a 50/50 split layout and electric fold and return functions.

Is the new Audi SQ7 roomier than the competition?

2020 Audi SQ7 Interior
- image 897794

Luggage space behind the second-row seats remains locked at 35.7 cubic feet. Fold the second row, and the SUV’s capacity grows to 69.9 cubic feet. As a result, the SQ7 remains a bit roomier than the competition behind the second-row. At 35.7 cubic feet, it offers an extra 1.8 cubic feet compared to the BMW X5 and an extra 6.6 cubic feet over the Mercedes-Benz GLE. It also trumps the Porsche Cayenne with an extra 8.6 cubic feet.

But things change when the second-row seats go down. The SQ7 falls behind the BMW X5 by 2.4 cubic feet and behind the Mercedes-Benz GLE by 2.7 cubic feet. Its German competitors are rated at 72.3 and 72.6 cubic feet, respectively. The SQ7 remains roomier than the Porsche Cayenne, though, rated at 60.3 cubic feet.

Drivetrain

  • new gasoline V-8 model
  • 500 horsepower
  • 568 pound-feet of torque
  • 8-speed gearbox
  • AWD system
  • 0 to 62 mph in 4.3 seconds
  • Solid performance against its rivals
  • Sporty suspension setup
  • Stiffer chassis
  • Rear-wheel steering
  • Optional differential
2020 Audi SQ7 Drivetrain
- image 897796

There’s big news under the hood, where Audi is offering a new engine. When it was introduced in 2016, the latest SQ7 came with a diesel engine in the form of a 4.0-liter V-8 rated at 429 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. Now, Audi introduced a gasoline SQ7.

It's also powered by a 4.0-liter V-8, but this gas engine pumps out 500 horsepower and 568 pound-feet of torque.

That’s an extra 71 horsepower, but the gasoline engine lags behind the TDI model by 96 pound-feet of twist.

Is the gasoline SQ7 quicker than the diesel SQ7?

2020 Audi SQ7 Exterior
- image 897809

While you’d be tempted to believe that the gasoline and diesel model are somewhat on par because one has more power while the other benefits from more torque, the original ratings placed them notably apart. While the SQ7 TDI hits 62 mph from a standing start in 4.8 seconds, the gas-powered SQ7 reaches the same benchmark in 4.3 seconds. That’s a half-second quicker. These figures also make the SQ7 the quickest Q7 available, taking the title from the diesel SQ7.

The new SQ7 is also notably quicker than other gasoline Q7 model. It’s 1.4 seconds quicker than the 60 TFSI e, powered by a hybrid system with a 3.0-liter V-6 rated at 450 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. It’s also 1.8 seconds quicker than the 3.0 TFSI version now powered by a 3.0-liter V-6 good for 335 horses and 332 pound-feet of torque.

Is the new Audi SQ7 better than the competition?

2020 Audi SQ7 Exterior
- image 897808
Thanks to this new gasoline model, Audi finally has a competitor for the BMW X5 M50i.

The latter also features a V-8 engine, but it’s a 4.4-liter unit and generates 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. The Bimmer comes with an extra 23 horsepower and falls behind by 15 pound-feet in the torque department, but the SUVs have similar acceleration performance. Specifically, the X5 also hits 62 mph in 4.3 seconds.

Moving over to Mercedes’ offering in the GLE lineup, the SQ7 doesn’t go against the AMG GLE 53 as you might think. The GLE 580 is a more appropriate rival in terms of power because it’s 4.0-liter V-8 turbo (paired to an EQ Boost system) generates 483 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. But this is 17 horses and 52 pound-feet below the SQ7, so it’s not surprising that the Merc is 0.6 seconds slower to 62 mph.

Porsche, on the other hand, doesn’t have a specific Cayenne model that goes against the SQ7. The Cayenne S is notably less powerful and slower, while the Cayenne Turbo is significantly more powerful and almost a half-second quicker.

Just like the rest of the Q7 lineup, the SQ7 comes with an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission and a permanent Quattro all-wheel-drive system. Both were optimized for the new engine and to handle the extra power of the drivetrain.

2020 Audi SQ7 Drivetrain
- image 897804

The SQ7 also features an S-tuned, adaptive air suspension system. It electronically controls the dampers to regulate dynamics when needed and to also enhance ride quality. It also features rear-wheel steering, a system that reduces the SUV’s turning circle at low speeds and improves stability at highway speeds. The sport differential improves cornering agility by actively splitting torque between each of the rear wheels, with the ability to direct nearly all available torque to one wheel.

How much does the Audi SQ7 cost?

2020 Audi SQ7 Exterior
- image 897813

The Audi SQ7 starts from $84,800, which will get you the Premium Plus trim. Opt for the Prestige model, which comes with extra features, and the SUV will set you back $90,400 before options. The base SQ7 boasts a $30,000 premium over the standard Q7.

Is the Audi SQ7 better than the BMW X5 M50i?

2019 BMW X5
- image 782612

The two SUVs are actually very similar when it comes to features and performance. Both are of the premium variety, so you get nicely appointed interior packed high-quality materials, top-notch technology, and plenty of luggage room. It’s mostly the exterior design that makes the difference. While the SQ7 is basically a sleeper when it comes to looks, the X5 M50i boasts a notably more aggressive appearance. When it comes to performance, the M50i features a twin-turbo, 4.4-liter V-8 engine rated at 523 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. The Bimmer comes with an extra 23 horsepower and falls behind by 15 pound-feet in the torque department, but it’s just as quick as the SQ7 with a 0-to-62 mph sprint of 4.3 seconds. Pricing for the BMW X5 M50i starts from $82,150.

Read our full story on the BMW X5.

Is the Audi SQ7 better than the Mercedes-Benz GLE 850?

2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE
- image 796580

While the Mercedes-AMG GLE 53 falls behind the SQ7 in terms of output, the GLE 580 comes closer thanks to its mild hybrid drivetrain that pairs a turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 to an EQ Boost system. The mill generates 483 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque, 17 horses, and 52 pound-feet below the SQ7. The Merc is 0.6 seconds slower to 62 mph. But other than that, you get similar equipment, ranging from fine leather for the interior, the company’s latest technology, and plenty of premium options. The GLE was redesigned recently, but it doesn’t look as sporty as the X5. The good news is that the GLE 580 is a bit more affordable at $77,600 before options.

Read our full review of the Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Conclusion

2020 Audi SQ7 Exterior
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When the first prototypes of the new SQ7 hit the streets, the previous model was only three years old. So it was a bit of a surprise. But as it turns out, Audi wasn’t working on a revised version of the familiar SQ7 TDI, but a brand-new model with a gasoline engine. And this variant was long overdue, as Audi didn’t have a proper competitor for the intermediate performance models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Now, the SQ7 is powerful enough to give the competition a run for their money, but it’s also allows you to choose between gasoline or diesel power. In Europe, only, of course, because the oil burner isn’t coming to the U.S. The facelift itself is also a nice touch, as it refreshes the exterior and puts the interior into a new, more appealing perspective thanks to its Q8 design.

  • Leave it
    • Still expensive
    • Other options available
    • Bland styling
Ciprian Florea
Ciprian Florea
Senior Editor and Supercar Expert - ciprian@topspeed.com
Ciprian's passion for everything with four wheels (and more) started back when he was just a little boy, and the Lamborghini Countach was still the coolest car poster you could hang on your wall. Ciprian's career as a journalist began long before earning a Bachelor's degree, but it was only after graduating that his love for cars became a profession.  Read full bio
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