The next-gen Q7 is a smaller, less aggressively styled SUV, according to sources in Ingolstadt. This means that Audi's fourth-generation A8 would be the last new Audi that is considerably bigger than the model it replaces.
Audi is carefully weighing the options for its slow-selling next-gen Q7, which is due in 2013. Mercedes wants to extend the wheelbase of the next GL to provide additional room for a full-size third row of seats.
However, Audi is considering whether to offer two different Q7 body styles: an XXL seven-seater for China, the Middle East, and North America and a relatively compact five-seater for Europe and the other countries.
It is believed that the most practical solution would be to restyle the vehicle on the existing matrix and to reduce its lifecycle to four years, bringing the Q7's development cadence back in line with that of Porsche Cayenne and VW Touareg.
The weight of the Q7 is reduced by up to 550 pounds with the use of the high-strength steel platform but this may not be enough to improve fuel efficiency.
An all-new aluminum space frame architecture can lower the weight by up to 1100 pounds but it would be more expensive to execute. The aluminum space frame, which stems from Audi's passenger car-biased MLB components set, would enable Audi to offer a high-end four-cylinder engine in the Q7.