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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist


Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster: Perfect four rings pair?

Despite being completely different segment-wise, performance remains at the heart of the TT RS and SQ7.


It is a game many a petrolhead has “played” at some stage in their life: if money was no object, what would be the perfect or dream car garage? As is so often the case, a list of the world’s most desirable and expensive cars, likely to consist out of super and hypercars, would be drawn-up and written under the heading “my perfect five car garage” or even “my top 100 dream car garage”. Whether the new Audi SQ7 and updated Audi TT RS Roadster would feature on any “dream list” regardless of the imaginary garage’s capacity or the infinite…

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It is a game many a petrolhead has “played” at some stage in their life: if money was no object, what would be the perfect or dream car garage?

As is so often the case, a list of the world’s most desirable and expensive cars, likely to consist out of super and hypercars, would be drawn-up and written under the heading “my perfect five car garage” or even “my top 100 dream car garage”.

Whether the new Audi SQ7 and updated Audi TT RS Roadster would feature on any “dream list” regardless of the imaginary garage’s capacity or the infinite zeros in one’s bank account is debatable. But their recent arrivals did elicit a strong case for representing the perfect two-car garage Ingolstadt has to offer.

The violent and understated

Introduced in 2014, the TT has been subjected to speculative reports dating back three years on whether it will remain part of Audi’s line-up or bow out entirely given its standing as one of Ingolstadt’s oldest model.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
With the roof up, some of the TT RS’s edginess disappears.

Despite the SQ7 not being for this world either, the Q7 which it is spun off has not been placed under similar scrutiny, meaning that if the once statement-making sports car is to bow out, the proverbial “doing it with grace” adage certainly applies.

While facelifts have been known to produce sometimes unwanted results, the R8-inspired facia applied to the TT three years ago arguably brought an element of aggression the RS explores to the maximum.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
With the roof down, the TT shows its best side.

Arriving in the signature Audi Nardo Grey paint finish contrasted by the optional black styling package and riding on the standard issue 20-inch Audi RS alloy wheels, the RS came with a “as tested” sticker of R1 248 080 of which R134 580 were optional extras. It certainly looked the part with the prominent fixed rear wing and red brake calipers adding to the “who are you calling pretty?” narrative.

As with most high-performance convertibles though, the black soft-top roof, which can be opened and closed in ten seconds at up to 50 km/h, removes some of the edginess by looking out of place against the Nardo backdrop when up. Folded down, the purposeful looks returns as does the impression of the TT being smaller than it actually is.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
Even from the rear, and without a keen eye, the SQ7 can be mistaken for a Q7 45 TDI S line.

By comparison, the SQ7, priced at R1 679 500 before options, looks even tamer. Had it not been for the optional 22-inch Audi Sport alloys, satin silver detailing, quad exhaust outlets, SQ7 badges and huge upgraded brakes with red calipers, it could well have been confused for the conventional Q7 45 TDI S line.

Despite the original Q7 having famously been described as a “hippo stuck in a vice” by a British motoring magazine on its debut, the discreet S touches, never mind the stunning Navarra Blue hue, are to its advantage. It looked unpretentious but still classy.

Old and new clear inside

Inside, both the TT RS Roadster and SQ7 conform to the trademark Audi interior approach. Like with the R8, the TT’s cabin is dominated by the 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit Display. It houses all of the functions accessed by the steering wheel or by the shortcut buttons and toggles flanking the rotary MMI dial.

Alleviating any clutter and certainly working in the TT’s favour by exhibiting a minimalist and clean look, the setup takes a fair amount of familiarity to decipher.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
Minimalist and clean look of the TT’s interior has its quirks.

It is however still an inviting well-build environment with unique touches such as the buttons for the climate control integrated into the air vents, not to mention the fantastic RS sport seats with optional heating, red inserts as part of the optional RS interior package and the grin inducing red starter button on the steering wheel.

The compactness of the TT’s interior, unsurprisingly, is dwarfed by that of the SQ7 with another prevailing difference being the more modern tech focused design. Like the TT, a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster is employed, but bolstered by the 10.1-inch MMI Plus infotainment system with haptic feedback. A secondary 8.6-inch display, climate control and Audi Drive Select system completed the package.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
Layout and design of the SQ7’s interior bang up to date.

While easier to understand and better laid out than the TT’s, the displays can become overwhelming for the uninitiated. In some cases, frustrating as the haptic feedback requires a descent press on the screen rather than a simple “stroke” to access the desired function.

With the foibles sorted out, the SQ7’s cabin shows its mantle with Valcona leather S branded heated front seats being supportive and the second row not limited for head or legroom despite the standard panoramic sunroof.

The practical one

Like the Q7, the SQ7 seats seven and while the third-row can be folded or raised electrically using a boot-mounted button, some will find the process a trifle time-consuming with the third row itself being largely reserved for small children.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
With all seven seats up, boot space in SQ7 is rated at 295-litres.

In terms of space, opening the electric tailgate reveals a somewhat paltry 295-litre boot with all seven seats up, which expands to 865-litres with the third row down. Lower the second row and space increases to 2 050-litres.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
With the second and third rows down, the SQ7’s boot can swallow 2 050-litres.

Along with the third row and tailgate, the SQ7’s adaptive air suspension can be lowered at the rear to aid loading, while the tow bar can be folded in or out using a similar button setup.

Now for the power!

As the saying goes, the thrill is in the drive and in spite of being completely different, both the TT RS Roadster and SQ7 deliver a unique take on dynamics and going fast.

Admittedly, the former caused the biggest worry as a result of the loss in rigidity due to the roof’s removal. As such, body flex is noticeable with a further hindrance being exposed elements of the roof’s mechanism with the top up, and more than expected road noise at the national limit.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
Buttons for the sports exhausts ups the aural satisfaction level in the TT RS considerably.

The doubts this writer had about the sportiest TT with a drop-top soon took a back seat with the slightest prod of the accelerator. Nestled up front, the multi-award winning 2.5 TFSI five-cylinder engine delivers its 294kW/480Nm with such ferocity and a Group B Audi quattro-esque sounding wastegate chatter that all worries about exposed roof bars soon disappeared.

Saddled with some initial turbo-lag in typical ur-quattro tradition, the sound is both visceral and metallic. Factors that became completely intoxicating with the roof down, the Drive Select system in Dynamic mode and the sports exhaust activated. In fact, the combo was such that the excellent (optional) Bang & Olufsen sound system saw very little use.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
Heated RS sport seats are supportive and comfortable.

Hooked to a seven-speed S tronic transmission with drive going to all four wheels as per usual, the RS grips and pulls in an almost frightening manner as the sound increases and the five-cylinder continues its glorious repertoire.

Able to get from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.9 seconds and hit 250 km/h, or 280 km/h in the case of our tester thanks to the optional RS Driver’s Package, the only other tardy aspect of the drivetrain involved the transmission, which exhibited a ratio dragging sensation the moment you floor it. However, this was rectified when selecting manual mode and using the steering wheel-mounted gear shift paddles.

What about diesel?

On the other side of the coin, the SQ7 represents controlled brutality. Unlike the TT’s uncertain future, the monstrous 4.0-litre bi-turbodiesel V8 underneath the bonnet will soon bow out, but with the title of the world’s most powerful oil-burner.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
“Control pane” for the rear seats, suspension and tow bar in the SQ7.

Tasked with hauling 2.4 tons of SQ7, the oil-burner emits a rather satisfying burble. Once spooled up, proceeds to unleash its mammoth 310kW/900Nm in an initial and undramatic fashion, before delivering a brutal surge in Dynamic mode.

Mated to a slick-shifting eight-speed Tiptronic gearbox, the SQ7 will get from 0 to 100 km/h in a claimed 4.8 seconds and top out at 250 km/h. Despite producing 63kW/100Nm less than the old Q7 6.0 V12 TDI, it feels more akin to long distance cruising in absolute opulence than being a performance SUV like the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk for example.

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
SQ7’s optional 22-inch Audi Sport alloy wheels.

As such, the ride, unlike the firm setup of the TT RS Roadster, is superb thanks to the mentioned air suspension. The steering is nicely weighted whereas that of the RS is unapologetically sharp and the overall impression that of a docile creature that becomes an animal when really provoked.

In terms of consumption, both four rings recorded praiseworthy figures considering their performance potential and extensive spells in Dynamic mode with the SQ7 recording an indicated best of 10.4 L/100 km and the TT RS Roadster 9.8 L/100 km.

Conclusion

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
Audi SQ7 grille logo

“A sports car for the weekends and an SUV for everything else” has, in recent years, become a growing want, often accompanied by the word “dream”.  

Audi SQ7 and TT RS Roadster dream garage
Audi TT RS Roadster badge

While the Audi TT RS Roadster and SQ7 are unlikely to be the first choices when it comes to the perfect dream car or even dream Audi garage, both deliver on the promise of providing thrills. Both grab attention from a visual or technical standpoint while providing a huge smile every time the engine fires and the accelerator nailed.

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