A shocking dose of reality got jammed up my nose; as painful as a 5-hour-long ice cream headache. I got stuck in a rental car. And not just any rental car, but some soulless domestic product that litter airports like dead flies.
While the Big Three has some good cars, this rental was not among them. As fate would have it, this would be my conveyance for a 350-mile drive to Phoenix.
God, I miss the Q7.
Truth be told, it's the little things I missed first. Things like lighted foot wells and door handles, always-on 12-volt outlets, one-touch electric windows, and keyless remote-powered door locks. I cursed silently in the darkness, groping for the keys as their sharp edges dug into my thigh. Of course, they fell to the ground, right on top of a broken bottle and an impossibly huge piece of chewed gum (that's what I'm hoping it was). As I went for my suitcase, the spring-loaded truck mechanism gave me a sharp uppercut, a blow punctuated by a loud "CLICK," like when teeth meet at high velocity.
I was tempted to stuff a rag in the gas filler, light, and walk away.
Sitting in my hotel room, a wheezy, Tuberculin air conditioner exhaled musty breath, bathing everything in a sticky, cold dew. The bed table lamp cast a sickly greenish glow on everything. Victims of cost-cutting measures to enhance the bottom line, the A/C unit and fluorescent bulb were doing the best they could. How can you get mad at something like that? The same thing with that rental car out there. It was cheap transportation, designed to get the job done for minimum expense. It's not its fault that it sucks.
Although I had wanted to injure this rental car, I found myself pitying it. Like an ugly injured dog, this car was doing the best it could for me. I named him Steve and I told him stories about my beloved Q7.
I explained to Steve how the Q7 might be the most sophisticated, user-friendly SUV in the world. How features like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot side assist, and brake-guard radar were science fiction in the not-too distant past. How these systems genuinely enhanced our daily driving, making lane changes and traffic less stressful. I also spoke of interior layout, everything from the soothing, warm glow of the instrument panel to the hidden map lights, invisible until you place something beneath them. Featuring the world's most intuitive user interface panel, Audi's MMI dial was a joy to use and gave drivers exceptional control of the Q7's features. The Audi's navigation system contained hyper-detailed maps, quickly drawn regardless of chosen scale, and its voice command directions were usually very accurate.
Rubbing my fingers over Steve's plastic dashboard, I told him not all cars smell like a dime store bag of green army men. I told Steve about the Napa leather, Japanese Tamo wood inlays, and high-quality synthetic materials throughout the Q7's cabin. I described the well-bolstered seats (including the third row) and how they could fold down for sizable loads. I told him how the Q7 could lower its rear-loading hatch for especially big loads.
Finally, I told Steve how the Q7 felt on the road, how its commanding seating position lent an air of superiority. I talked about how well Audi's optional air suspension worked, at both high-cruising speeds and off-road. How it's MMI system could be dialed to either "dynamic," "automatic," or "comfort," depending on the driver's mood, and deliver a surprisingly firm ride or a very compliant one, even with its big 20-inch alloy wheels. I expounded on the intensity of the Zenon headlamps that lit up dark roads like miniature suns. Of course, I also described the power of the 4.2 FSI V8 engine, how it was perfectly linked to the six-speed Tiptronic gearbox, and how much fun it was slapping the paddles for the occasional manual shift.
No, the Q7 4.2 FSI was not a perfect car because its thirst for fuel was prodigious, but the level of luxury contained therein seduced more than a few drivers and passengers-it could've been the Bose 14-speaker sound system or the dual video units. More likely, it was the fact the Q7 contained so much when other cars contain so little.
Steve perked up at that last comment and went on to explain how he can be cheaply had and how he represents "transportation for the masses." I had to agree with him. He was a Class A economy car-built cheaply for the sole purpose of transporting people from one location to another.
I simply said the Q7 is to a car what an Omega chronograph is to a Timex. Some people don't care about their wristwatch, some do.
The Q7 is for latter.
At A Glance
Tank-like solidity, superior craftsmanship, great on- and off-road performer, very entertaining ride -Thirst for fuel