“We’re putting the Q7 through just about every horror imaginable to a car driver.” This is the rather vivid description offered by Martin Brand, Head of Durability Testing at AUDI AG. Franciscus van Meel, Technical Project Manager responsible for the development of the new SUV is certain that, “never before has a vehicle had to go through such a broad-based spectrum of tasks and operational conditions during testing.” Before the first series production models are delivered to customers this coming spring, Q7 prototypes and pre-production vehicles will have been put through millions of test kilometres.
Checks are being carried out on a vast array of test beds, on Volkswagen Group proving grounds, at minus 35 degrees Celsius inside the Polar Circle, in the scorching desert heat of Southern Africa, on the highways of Florida, on dust, grit and gravel in Europe, Asia, Brazil and Central America, through to the gruelling Nordschleife of Germany’s Nürburgring. But this is not all.
The Q7 is also being put through its paces on lonely, winding country roads, on autobahns and in the midst of heavy city traffic in congested urban areas. For over two years now, disguised Q7's have been out and about on public roads, as well as in the most remote corners of the earth, under extreme dynamic, climatic and topographic conditions.
Van Meel identifies the reasoning behind this test of automotive toughness, “An SUV has to be able to perform on the road as well as off of it, and to meet stringent customer expectations.
Our comprehensive test program, which is unique in its extensiveness, guarantees that the Q7 will fulfil the very highest expectations in terms of reliability, durability, robustness, stamina, speed, handling, comfort, flexibility and everyday usability.”
In order to meet these targets, Audi engineers and test drivers are hard on their vehicles. Representatives of Audi Vehicle Development are pulled from all possible disciplines, such as chassis, driving dynamics, power units, transmission, electronics, bodywork, total vehicle and quality assurance.
The durability testing chief affords a glimpse into the test catalogue, “The test tracks we use are a collection of the world’s worst driving and obstacle routes imaginable in customer operating scenarios - pot holes, rough cobblestones, speed bumps, undulations, grit, non-surfaced roads, gravel, rough rock trail, railway crossings, and water obstacles.
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