The Discovery has been around since 1989 and the second-generation launched in 2004. The long-overdue third-gen has been revealed and will go on sale in Australia in July this year.
On the other hand, the Q7 was Audi’s first foray into the SUV market and launched in 2005. The second-generation was introduced in late 2015.
This is the powerhouse versus the party crasher. The Discovery has long been a popular sales powerhouse and even though it is long-in-the-tooth it has remained versatile, competitive and relevant over the years.
The new Q7 burst onto the scene and has proven to be the party crasher, loaded with modern technology and attracting solid sales numbers.
With the new Discovery just around the corner, if you’re not a fan of the Land Rover‘s Range Rover makeover there’s still time to get your hands on one of the older, box-shaped ones. So should you buy now while you still can, wait for the new one, or opt for the Q7?
We put these two to the test to find out where their strengths and weaknesses lie, and what you should keep in mind if you’re seriously considering parting with your hard-earned coin for either one of these.
Our test cars are the entry-level Audi Q7 3.0 TDI 160kW quattro and the top-spec Land Rover Discovery 3.0 SDV6 HSE. Both are diesel AWDs with automatic transmissions, seven seats and priced under $97,000 before on-road costs.
The Discovery range starts with the TDV6 at $69,360, the TDV6 Graphite edition is $70,80, the SDV6 SE steps up to $84,880 with the Graphite edition increasing the cost to $89,800. Our test car the SDV6 HSE is $96,290 while the Landmark edition based on the HSE is $106,690.
The Q7 line-up starts with the 160kW priced at $96,855, the range then steps up to the more powerful 200kW version for $104,855. The flagship SQ7 was launched in Australia in December and swaps the 3.0-litre diesel engine for a 4.0-litre diesel that produces significantly more power at 320kW for significantly more coin at $153,616.
As is the Audi way, our test car is fitted with a raft of options that significantly jack up the as-tested price.
The additional Audi Connect system ($750), metallic paint ($2400), assistance package including adaptive cruise control, lane assist, high-speed autonomous emergency braking and traffic jam assist ($4075), parking assistance package with 360-degree camera ($1300), LED headlights ($2800), full body paint finish ($1300) and gloss black/oak/grey interior inlays ($1690) bring the total to $110,615.
The Q7 is decently kitted out as standard with modern technology and safety features including rear-view camera, rear cross-traffic alert, side assist, cruise control, city braking, and satellite navigation. The long and expensive list of options above is more the icing on the cake, rather than cake.
Interestingly, Audi’s virtual cockpit isn’t available in the 160kW Q7 though it is standard in the 200kW.
Before we start banging the Audi option drum a little too enthusiastically, we need to beat the Disco drum too. Our Discovery has a few added extras that bring the $96,290 price up to $113,560 as tested.
Added options include electric glass sunroof and rear alpine window ($3860), premium metallic paint ($3600), heated/cold climate windscreen pack ($2700), wood/leather steering wheel ($1700), 20-inch aero viper alloy wheels ($1500), privacy glass ($1100), active locking rear differential ($1060), cooled cubby box ($900) and digital radio ($850).
For an adventurous family, the windscreen pack, active locking rear differential and cooled cubby box make sense. As standard the Discovery gets rear climate control, cruise control, front and rear parking sensors with rear-view camera and satellite navigation.
Being an off-road focused SUV, it’s great to see electronic air suspension is standard on the Discovery and it also aids with ingress and egress. Adaptive air suspension is available on the Q7 for $4950 and is worth shelling out for if you can justify the cost.
The Discovery also scores rear climate control as standard, but if you want four-zone air condition in your Q7 it will set you back $1950.
There are plenty of smaller differences. The Audi has digital radio as standard while the Land Rover doesn’t, and blind-spot monitoring is an option in the Discovery. However both come standard with a long list of niceties including electric leather seats, auto Xenon headlights, auto windscreen wipers, hill-descent control, drive mode select and 19-inch alloy wheels.
On paper it’s hard to split the pair when it comes to value. Both are decently kitted out as standard and it almost comes down to the Q7’s extra safety features versus the Discovery’s air suspension.
It’s splitting hairs because both are attractive propositions without the added options, but the Q7 edges just in front when it comes to price and equipment.
Both have a premium feel with beautiful finishes, quality materials and sophisticated cabin ambience.
There are lashings of wood grain, brushed silver and leather around the interior of the Discovery and though it doesn’t feel as modern as the Q7, there is an old school charm to it.
The Q7 is sleeker in its finishes with silver, leather, dark wood and gloss black touches. The raised dash and centre console gives it a contemporary edginess.
The Q7 sports a retractable 8.3-inch screen that facilitates satellite navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, media and music among a host of other features. The graphics are clear and it’s easy to navigate using the Audi MMI touchpad and controller located in front of the gearshift.
The Discovery has a 7.0-inch touchscreen embedded at the top of the centre stack and the graphics and functionality leave a little to be desired. However, all of the basics like satellite navigation, phone and audio are covered.
The high-riding leather-appointed seats in the Q7 are wide and comfortable with electric adjustment including lumbar support and memory function, and the interior lights are touch activated.
Though, in my opinion, the interior is too light and grey (think of the cleaning!), the trims are stunning and the front seat is roomy with plenty of headroom and legroom for the front passenger.
I had trouble shutting the doors with enough force to latch at times, as the doors are heavy with a strange angle to the arm-grab if you need to reef it closed.
The Discovery has an even higher driving position than the Audi and the seats feel like armchairs with generous armrests and a wide seat-base and back.
With comfortable, soft leather and a seemingly ridiculous amount of room, you can forgive it its shortcomings in regards to dated style when it just feels so luxurious to be in.
What let the Discovery down are the cheap feeling buttons and dials that clutter the centre stack.
On a positive note, the space inside the Discovery has been cleverly utilised when it comes to storage. The double glove box is fantastic, the cooled (optional) centre console bin is brilliant and there’re even cupholders and storage bins in the third row.
The Q7 isn’t lacking in storage space, with decent sized door pockets, centre console bin and glove box but it doesn’t stack up to what the Discovery has to offer in this regard.
Moving through to the second row things start to get a little more interesting. Both have rear air vents, though in the Land Rover they are positioned on the roof and behind the centre console bin while in the Audi they are only on the latter.
The Discovery has full controls positioned on the roof and the second row seating is nice and high. There’s not a lot of hard plastics on touch points, with padded coverings over the inside of most of the door panels and armrests. The doors open really wide to make climbing in easy, even for older and younger ones and the air suspension can be utilised to further facilitate this.
The windows are large and it feels incredibly bright and spacious. There are large map pockets but no cupholders, or 12V or USB outlets, for that matter.
The Audi features a 12V outlet near the air vents with a little storage nook underneath. The pockets in the doors are nice and deep but the large speakers eat into a bit of that space.
The second row of the Q7 feels slightly more generous than the Land Rover with excellent head, knee and elbow room for outboard passengers – provided there isn’t a third body jammed in the middle seat.
There are padded covers that clip over the ISOFIX points too. Perhaps they are for cosmetic reasons, perhaps comfort. Either way, it’s a classy touch.
In each vehicle the second row seats all move and fold independently of each other with the Audi system infinitely easier to use than Land Rover’s.
More on that when we look closer at the third row.
Now for the fun part. Folding the middle row seats to enable people to clamber back into the sixth and seventh seat.
There are levers and pull tabs on the second row seats in the Audi, and though it takes a bit of force, it isn’t too difficult. Climbing through however, I noticed the carpet sagging in places – there was no solid floor under a section of carpet. No worries if whoever is climbing through is wearing flat shoes, but a disaster if a stiletto clad party-goer happens to draw the short straw.
The Q7 isn’t quite as spacious as the Discovery in the back. The seats are low meaning knees are raised well above the seat base level. Headroom is decent and adults could handle shorter journeys but climbing in is a squeeze.
There are no air vents or map lights back there, only one armrest and one cupholder.
Which leads us to the Discovery and it’s veritable penthouse level of space. The seats are large and high so there’s no knee-to-face action going on. There are air vents with large storage bins and cupholders on either side making it a far more practical place to be if you need to use the seven seats regularly.
There is an issue though. The mechanisms to fold the second row to climb in, as well as folding the third row up and down, are fiddly, difficult to reach and require a bit of muscle. Let’s hope this is corrected when the next-generation launches because it was not fun to play around with.
When it comes to boot space, neither allow for a family-sized luggage haul to be stowed behind the upright rear seats.
With the third row in play, the Q7 is slightly more generous at 295 litres compared to the Discovery’s 280 litres.
Thanks to the higher roof at the back of the Land Rover, it allows for 1132 litres with the third row folded down and 2558 litres with all seats folded. The floor is completely flat too. The Discovery has a 12V in the boot and the split folding door offers a flat platform that would be incredibly handy for camping.
The Audi offers a still-decent 770 litres with the second row up, and 1995 litres with just the driver and passenger seats in use. The Q7 also has a 12V outlet plus it scores a little bit of under floor storage space and when all of the seats are folded away the floor is flat.
Figuring out which car has the best interior could almost be decided by flipping a coin.
The Q7 is fresh, sleek, well finished and full of current technology to make life a little easier. Yet it lacks the space and light of the Discovery, doesn’t offer the same clever use of space and the third row is less practical – though easier to deploy.
If roominess and functionality are more important than cutting edge style and technology, then the Discovery wins this round.
Under the bonnet of the German specimen is a 3.0-litre six cylinder turbocharged diesel that produces 160kW between 3250-4750rpm and 500Nm between 1250-3000rpm.
The British offering has a more powerful 3.0-litre six cylinder twin-turbo diesel engine that produces 183kW at 4000rpm and 600Nm at 2000rpm.
The 3.0-litre powerhouse in the Discovery is teamed with an eight-speed automatic transmission, as is the Q7.
Land Rover claims a combined fuel consumption figure of 8.8-litres per 100 kilometres and during our time with the car we recorded an average of 11L/100km in mostly urban conditions.
A neat 5.8 litres per 100km is Audi’s claim, and we recorded 9L/100km over a combination of urban and highway cruising.
Not bad for large family haulers.
But how fast can these giant sardine tins move? Well Land Rover claims a 0-100km/hr time of 9.3 seconds, which isn’t too shabby considering the Discovery weighs in at a hefty 2558kg.
The Q7, on the other hand, is much lighter at 2135kg. Still a heavy unit, but its claimed 0-100km/hr time is nonetheless an impressive 6.5 seconds.
We didn’t put those claims to the test and let’s face it, people who buy these to ferry kids around aren’t going to either.
On the road
Though the Discovery is starting to feel a bit old, particularly next to the Q7, it’s been the king of the segment for a long time and dominates the off-road tests among its competition.
However, this comparison isn’t covering the off-road capabilities or towing prowess of either as our testing focused on how each performs as a family-focussed, seven-seat urban hauler.
Out on the road the Land Rover engine isn’t as refined as the Audi’s, though neither loudly announces they are actually oilers.
The Q7 is incredibly quiet and enjoyable to drive. Though not as perky as its 200kW sibling, it’s certainly got enough get-up-and-go to handle intersections, traffic lights and roundabouts with confidence.
Longer highway stretches are luxurious, even on the standard steel spring suspension, and the diesel engine is refined and efficient.
The Discovery and its air suspension make light work of poorer road surfaces, giving it a slight edge in this regard over the Q7 that can be a little stiff over ruts and bumps.
Its diesel engine, however, is a little more gruff than the German, a little louder and certainly lacking the same level of refinement. It’s a little more sluggish off the mark, too.
The eight-speed automatic gearboxes in both are excellent. The Q7 smoothly accelerates and works expertly through the gears while the Discovery is also beautifully smooth and intuitive.
The Q7 also feels smaller and more car-like on the road with less body roll around corners and superbly balanced electromechanical power steering. It feels engaging and direct at low speed and high speed.
It’s also easier to park. Even though both have rear-view cameras, the extra height and width of the Discovery needs to be taken into consideration, particularly when entering underground carparks.
To assist with this there is a handy diagram on the back of the sun visor with the dimensions – great idea!
Though the Discovery is a joy to drive, the win here has to go to the Q7 thanks to its superior refinement and quietness.
There’s a bit of a difference when it comes to what you can expect in regards to ownership costs.
Audi offers a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist and servicing due every 15,000km or annually, whichever comes first.
If you’re expecting to clock up more than 15,000km a year, you won’t need a service as often with the Discovery thanks to Land Rover’s three-year/100,000 kilometre warranty with roadside assist. Servicing is due every 26,000km or annually.
It’s clear these two seven seat luxury SUVs are both excellent choices yet suit very different lifestyles.
The Audi Q7 has certainly proven it is a refined, modern, stylish and impressive package.
The party crasher has made its mark and set a high standard while the Discovery has remained highly competitive and a true powerhouse in the seven-seat SUV corner of the market.
It has remained relevant, is still a beautiful car to drive and offers unrivalled space and storage.
If you enjoy long distance cruising, camping, off-road driving or regularly need to put teenagers or adults in the third row, then the Discovery is the best pick for you.
But at the end of the day, the Audi Q7 has to take the overall gong. It still offers a good amount of space, is a breeze to drive around town and is superbly finished and packaged.
If you’re still not sure… the next generation Land Rover Discovery could be worth the wait.