Audi’s range-topping flagship performance SUV gets a new look that should sit well with fans of the SUV

The current-generation Audi SQ7 was only unveiled last year, but it didn’t take Audi long to start developing an updated version of the punchy SUV. That appears to be the case as new spy photos of an SQ7 test mule have been spotted in the wild. The prototype appeared in the wild with another test vehicle — likely the Q7 — in what can only be described as the latest evidence that Audi isn’t sitting on its laurels when it comes to giving its two performance SUVs the necessary updates that’ll keep it fresh in the eyes of consumers.

Exterior

2020 Audi SQ7 Exterior Spyshots
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Digesting spy photos is always tricky, especially when the test mule is all covered up in camouflage. That said, even Audi’s best efforts in concealing the look of the SQ7 didn’t stop us from noticing a number of significant details from the SUV.

The gist of it is that the SQ7 shows off a more aggressive profile, especially in the front and back.

The first thing you’ll notice are the headlamps, which carries a different layout than the Q7. That’s largely due to the addition of an array of LED daytime running lights on the side and along the bottom edge of the housing. A prototype of the Q7 that was doing its own testing alongside the SQ7 test mule doesn’t carry those.

Move your gaze south and you’ll also notice the more aggressive corner intakes in the front fascia. Not only are they larger than the ones you can see in the Q7, but they also have sharper edges. It’s a safe bet that even if this is just a prototype of the SQ7, those sporty and aggressive corner intakes are likely going to make their way to the production model for the purpose of setting the tone as far as the look of the SQ7 is concerned.

2020 Audi SQ7 Exterior Spyshots
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Now let’s move to the rear section of the SQ7. The roof spoiler up top looks a little bigger than the one found on the Q7. Not only that, there appears to be a good amount of layering in this area of the SUV, a possible by-product of Audi once again establishing the more aggressive look of the SQ7. Even the rear bumper, specifically the cutouts that provide room for two sets of dual exhausts, gets in on the fun.

There are a lot more details that will be revealed once the SQ7 sheds some skin. But it’s looking like the updated version of Audi’s flagship high-performance SUV is going to take on a different look once it hits the market.

Interior

2017 Audi SQ7 High Resolution Interior
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We don’t get a good look at the interior of the Audi SQ7 test mule, but since the model itself is still relatively fresh — it arrived in 2016, one year after the Q7 — it’s hard to imagine Audi reworking the SUV’s interior completely. A few updates here and there are expected. Maybe even some nips here and some tucks there.

But for the most part, the updated SQ7 should carry the same design layout as the current version of the high-performance model.

If that’s the case, we can expect the smooth and clean dashboard to remain. The tall center console should still be there and the digital display should still be comfortable in its usual spot on the dashboard. The all-digital instrument cluster is unlikely to go away, either.

The rest of the cabin should still be the same, too, regardless if it’s the two-row or three-row version of the SQ7. Space has never been an issue with the SQ7 so it’s unlikely that it’s going to be an issue with the updated model.

2017 Audi SQ7 High Resolution Interior
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We can also expect the SQ7 to pack the finest materials in the land.

This is still an Audi, after all, and the German automaker isn’t the type to short-change customers on seats wrapped in Valcona leather with splashes of Alcantara and a host of wood and aluminum trims thrown in.

Expect cargo space to stay the same, as well. The seven-seat SQ& offers10.4 cubic feet of storage room. That space increases to 27.2 cubic feet with the third-row seats folded. The five-seater, on the other hand, comes with 31.4 cubic feet, which increases to 73.3 cubes with the second row folded flat.

Drivetrain

2020 Audi SQ7 Exterior Spyshots
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Unlike the Q7 and it’s grocery list of engine options, the Audi SQ7 is powered by one engine. One engine to rule them all. It just so happens, too, that this one engine — a 4.0-liter TDI diesel — is one of Audi’s best technological innovations in recent memory.

It doesn’t show it on paper, but this engine uses a particular type of forced induction that we didn’t see on a production car until the current-generation SQ7 showed up two years ago. It’s called an electrically powered compressor and it works alongside a pair of sequential turbochargers that give the SQ7 the kind of instantaneous acceleration that can make the Tesla Model X tremble in fear. Audi calls this piece the EPC, and if you can’t keep up with the tech parlance, all you need to know is that it helps the SQ7 jolt to life once your feet punches the pedal.

All told, the 4.0-liter TDI diesel engine produces 435 horsepower and 663 pound-feet of torque.

Those figures help it accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds before it hits an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.

Given the new tech surrounding the SQ7’s 4.0-liter TDI diesel engine, it’s hard to imagine the German automaker doing anything short of giving the engine a small tune for the updated version of the punchy SUV.

Competition

BMW X5 M

2019 BMW X5 M Exterior Spyshots
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The X5 M is BMW’s performance offering for the BMW X5, and it is certainly a model you’d have to consider if you’re looking for a performance SUV, even if you’ll have to a pay premium for it. The SUV starts at a little over $100,000 with top-spec versions costing close to $120,000. Still, you’re getting bang for your buck with this one, thanks in large part to its 4.4-liter twin-turbo V-8 engine that produces 567 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque. The SQ7 is no match against that kind of firepower, and the numbers paint a clear picture of it. The X5 M is capable of hitting 0 to 60 mph in 4.0 seconds, a figure that would put the SQ7 in its place.

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW X5 M.

Mercedes GLS-Class

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class High Resolution Exterior
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Just like BMW, Mercedes-Benz can throw a number of models in the direction of the Audi SQ7. For this purpose, though, I’m bringing the GLS-Class in the front of the line because of its status as Merc’s flagship SUV. The obvious choice here is to go with the AMG variant of the GLS-Class, but it’s probably better if we line the SQ7 against the current GL550 4MATIC. As it is, the GL550 is powered by a 4.7-liter biturbo V-8 engine that produces 429 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Those figures fare well against the SQ7, even though the Merc is a decided underdog in the torque department. Still, the GLE550 can hold its own, and it’s priced at under $100,000, making it a cheaper alternative than the SQ7. You can’t go wrong with a Mercedes SUV, let alone one that companies aggressive performance with premium luxury.

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes GLS-Class

Conclusion

2020 Audi SQ7 Exterior Spyshots
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It is a bit surprising that Audi already has an updated SQ7 in development even if the current model is barely three years old. But that’s how the game is played these days, so it is what it is. I’m impressed with the quick turnaround, though. More than that, I’m impressed that Audi looks to have developed meaningful updates on the high-performance SUV that will allow it to stay at the top of its game in what is becoming a very competitive segment. There are more details about the updated SQ7 that have not been revealed, but from where it is now, Audi appears to be ahead of the curve in the SQ7’s development.

  • Leave it
    • Still expensive
    • Other options available
    • No timetable for release

Further reading

2020 Audi Q7 Exterior Spyshots
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Read our full speculative review on the 2020 Audi Q7.

2017 - 2018 Audi Q7 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2017 - 2018 Audi Q7.

2017 Audi SQ7
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Read our full review on the 2017 Audi SQ7.

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