2013 Audi Q7 TDI: The Drive to the High Tatras Mountains – Review

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DSC_0185After purchasing a Vignette at the Slovakian border and continuing towards Žilina/Letisko/Komárno/Centrum a sign led to the D1, which basically slices across Slovakia, going past Trnava, Trenčin, Púchov, Žilina, Martin, Poprad, Prešov, Košice, and Michalovce until reaching the Ukrainian border.

THE D1 MOTORWAY

While construction of the D1 on the Slovak side first started in 1973 (it started on the Czech side in 1967) it’s a magnificent road and seems brand new. There’s only one problem: it hasn’t been completed yet.  It only goes as far as Žilina and the section from there to Ružomberok is “planned.”  (The dissolution of Czechoslovakia probably didn’t help the project.) Unfortunately, at least for those who prefer motorways, the most difficult section of the D1 yet to be built is where most of the motorway’s tunnels will be, including a rather long one near Višňové.

The motorway ended and we headed towards Route 18, DSC_0311which also carries the E50 designation, but, while it’s a pleasant enough road, it’s nothing like the D1.  After 172 rather enjoyable kilometers (107 miles) on the D1, the driving would get slower.

Most of the driving nearing the destination is on a very well maintained two-lane highway.  As we motored past Poprad and Martin it was at the exit for Važec that it became apparent that the altitude was rising rapidly.   Martin was already at an elevation of 1,296 feet (395 meters) but that paled in comparison to Štrbské pleso at 4,432 feet (1,351 meters), as confirmed by the Audi’s navi display.

The drive had taken four hours and two minutes and the Audi managed to deliver 24.25 mpg (9.7 l/100 km) with an average speed of 63 mph (102 km/h). Given that a substantial portion of the drive was at 111 mph (180 km/h), the achieved fuel economy was more than satisfactory.

THE AUDI Q7 TDI

As we previously noted, the Q7’s interior is elegant and well executed with hDSC_0951igh quality and good looking materials.  After spending multiple hours driving over several days, I found the leather seats to be  extremely comfortable and supportive leather.  The layout of the dash and driver’s area is clean and the traditional Audi user interface means that everything is easy to find and operate.

The Q7 received an updated 3.0-liter V-6 that develops 240 horsepower, 15 more than the 2012 model, at the start of the 2013 model year.  Torque remained the same at 406 pound-feet.  The eight-speed transmission mates nicely to the new engine and shifts effortlessly.  The 406 pound-feet of torque are more than sufficient to move this 5700-pound vehicle, even on an Autobahn with no speed limit.

Another thing I noticed after spending a week with the Q7: it was near silent inside.  Inside the cabin, even upon cold starts, diesel noise was imperceptible. My only real complaint was that, once underway, the A pillars somewhat reduces visibility but Audi’s blindspot monitoring system more than compensates for this.

The Audi seemed equally at home on stretches of Autobahnen and as well as on winding roads I encountered in the High Tatras region as i approached Štrbské pleso. Steering and braking were quite good, especially for a vehicle of this size, with decent feedback.

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