As compelling as the V8 sounds (or can sound), it’s important not to get the wrong idea about the kind of performance that’s being delivered here.

While the engine’s capacity for near-instantaneous torque delivery is genuine, its implied potency has not caused the Q7 to mutate into an unbalanced or needlessly frenetic prospect, and nor has it yielded the uncanny and disconcerting shunt of a purely electric drivetrain.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
Lift through fast dips and the SQ7’s rear axle announces itself far more vigorously than the Bentayga’s

Instead, the combination of V8 diesel engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox is both orthodox and very well resolved.

Despite its latent power, the SQ7 doesn’t feel the least bit constricted at low speeds, while the remarkable amenability available anywhere between a creep and 155mph is so sleekly managed that you grow accustomed to it within moments.

The revelation – which you subsequently work back to long after becoming acclimatised – is just how small your throttle inputs tend to become.

Most large SUVs, handicapped by a combination of kerb weight and turbo lag (even with multi-cylinder engines), want an impertinent stab to get confidently under way or move assertively between speeds.

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The SQ7, in contrast, barely requires an unfurling of the toes to have it gliding keenly forwards. The progressiveness of the accelerator pedal is superb and adds to the impression of an extremely biddable experience.

Having said that, even with the epic reserves of torque on tap, the car is still keen for the gearbox to share the V8’s burden. Long upper ratios mean that rapid downshifting remains almost as common in the SQ7 as it is in its lower-powered siblings, and in its default setting the car will decouple the driveline and coast – meaning throttle off/throttle on acceleration comes with the familiar half-second pause, too.

In S mode, though, or Dynamic, the engine remains on a deeply satisfying hair trigger, and immoderate use of it is addictive.

At 5.1sec to 60mph, the SQ7 is hasty away from the line but not unsettlingly so; rather, it is the relentless, full-toned surge evident in the 4.5sec sprint from 30-70mph (almost a second quicker than the BMW M50d tested) that makes the V8 so mesmeric – not least because, as with the 6.0 V12 TDI, it remains so idiosyncratically a diesel even as its sheer forcefulness confounds that description. 

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