As of late, every automaker is boasting colossal weight savings realized from redesigning traditionally heavy vehicles using more lightweight materials. Land Rover claimed to have shaved as many as 926 pounds from the latest Range Rover—our scales showed perhaps half that savings—and Ford has trumpeted the 2015 F-150’s aluminum body as saving 700 pounds versus its predecessor. Now Audi’s all-new Q7 SUV arrives touting a curb weight that’s 717 pounds lighter than before.
That’s a lot of fat to trim, but simplifying the task was the fact that the last-gen Q7 was veritably overengineered. It sat on a platform shared with Volkswagen’s Touareg and Porsche’s Cayenne, underpinnings designed to deliver big-time off-road ability; as such, the bones were heavier and beefier than necessary for those vehicles’ day-to-day tasks.
Let Jeep Have the Off-Road Business, We’ve Got Carbs to Cut
Freed from requiring major off-pavement ability, Audi was able to pull weight out of the Q7’s MLB II body structure, suspension, and even its transmission. A mix of high- and ultra-high-strength steel comprises the lion’s share of the SUV’s body-in-white; using aluminum most everywhere else—the fenders, hood, doors, and the tailgate—means the basic vehicle has shed 209 pounds. A further 221 pounds was pulled out of the Q7’s suspension, which switches from front control arms to multiple links at all four corners and is made almost entirely from aluminum and high-strength steel. The front half-shafts are hollow, and the knuckles are forged-aluminum pieces. More pounds were found by incorporating the transfer case into the eight-speed automatic transmission and by streamlining the electrical architecture.