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Continental supplies Audi's Q7 SUV
Tires, high-tech brakes and suspension

Audi Q7 SUV (Photo: Audi AG).

Q7, Audi's first 5- or 7-passenger capable crossover SUV

20th October 2005.

Audi's new Q7 SUV is not just the pride of the four-ring German brand, or its parent VW Group alone.

Of course, being the cousin of both the Volkswagen Touareg and the Porsche Cayenne gives solid credentials.

Others are claiming their role in the new 5- or 7-passenger Q7 SUV which, it must be said, is quite modified even structurally from its two 5-passenger cousins, Cayenne and Touareg.

When preparing its first sports utility vehicle, Audi (that is if we count the Allroad quattro as a an elevated A6 Avant crossover, below the SUV category) chose Continental's chassis technologies and high-performance tires.

The Audi Q7, equipped with up to 20 inch ContiCrossContact UHP tires and Conti4x4Contact tires, uses the optional EAS variable air suspension to adapt damping and spring characteristics.

Continental guided airspring (for the Audi Q7) of the front axle with thin bellow and electronically controlled dampers.

Audi Q7 SUV: Guided airspring of the front axle with thin bellow and electronically controlled dampers.

Braking and Electronic Stability Control are provided by the new standard-equipment Mk25E1 ESC made by the Automotive Systems division of Continental.

Following the A6, Audi allroad quattro and A8, the Q7 is the fourth Audi to use the Electronic Air Suspension system (EAS) produced by Continental air suspension systems.

Within a few short years, the EAS adaptive air suspension system by Continental Automotive Systems has established itself in top-of-the-line sedans and performance-oriented SUVs. Numerous automakers have selected this intelligent four-corner application with adaptive damper control.

"Chassis with non-adjustable steel springs and damping must always strike a compromise between comfort and handling. Our EAS, in combination with adjustable dampers, solves this problem. In demanding driving situations, EAS allows a focus on maximum comfort in order to provide the greatest driving dynamic qualities," states Dr. Andreas Rohde, Manager of Air Suspension Systems, in explaining the principal advantage of EAS technology.

EAS consists of four air-suspension struts, each with an integrated damper using a continuously variable characteristic curve.

In addition, the system takes advantage of sensor systems using spring path and body acceleration sensors as well as an air pressure supply with reservoir and valve block with pressure sensor. A powerful electronic control unit manages intelligent control of all components (photo below).

Continental ECU with leveling and damper control software.

ECU with levelling and damper control software (Photos: Continental).

A particular feature of Continental Automotive Systems' EAS is the external guidance of the pneumatic springs, which lends itself to the use of a very thin material for the bellows. Using signals from the spring path sensors, the electronic control system calculates the height of the body and makes needed corrections by inflating or deflating the pneumatic springs. Thus the full spring path is available at each wheel a prerequisite for maintaining a high level of comfort no matter the vehicle load.

Various chassis heights can either be set manually by the driver or automatically when specified speed thresholds are crossed. During fast driving, the system allows the chassis to ride lower to the ground. This improves aerodynamics, reduces fuel consumption and increases road-holding characteristics.

Suspension comfort also improves the damping control. It allows softer initial characteristics of the dampers than non-adjustable chassis. Modulation of damping forces uses the so-called skyhook process. This uses the kinetic energy of the axles to steady the vertical motions of the vehicle body as desired. If the electronic control system detects increased handling requirements, the damping characteristic curve is set to "hard". The handling characteristics thus become significantly more precise.

Guided comfort airspring of the rear axle (****1 tete en bas) with extremly thin bellow and electronically controlled dampers. Photo: Continental.

Audi Q7 SUV: Guided airspring of the rear axle with thin bellow and electronically controlled dampers.

The newest generation brake regulation system, the MK25 E1 ESC, made its debut in the Audi Q7. Compared to the previous standard ESC systems, MK25 E1 ESC offers greater performance and functional integration. Analogue-controlled intake and cut-out valves permit the ABS, ASR and ESC to perform more precisely and effectively. For an SUV such as the Audi Q7, active tip prevention is a big plus for safety, since by means of networking the ESC with an active power brake assist, the vehicle can be prevented from a roll-over in a fraction of a second. During towing, the ESC sensor systems can detect vehicle instability; through controlled braking action, the trailer can be brought back under control.

In its first use within VW, the MK 25 E1 ESC provides further safety through additional functions such as hill start assist and automatic drying of the brake disks. The hydraulic braking assistant and supplementary boost during heavy braking help the driver achieve short braking distances; the hill descent assist provides help when driving down steep inclines.

Down to the road now, where an all-round vehicle like the Q7 needs multi-talented tires that also guarantee high performance even during demanding situations.

Therefore Audi selected the ContiCrossContact UHP and Conti4x4Contact for the best grip off-road and on the street.

With its maximum speed of 250 km/h, the Q7 makes particularly high demands upon its tires. The Q7 is shipped from the factory with 18, 19 or 20-inch wheels. Continental provide tires with impressive dimensions: 235/60 R 18, 255/55 R 18, 265/50 R 19 and 275/45 R 20.

In addition to tires, chassis and brake systems, Continental provides many other components for the Q7. Membranes, cooling, heating and charge air lines as well as climate control lines are made by ContiTech; further, high-performance rubber ribbed belts and ribbed V-belts to drive accessories are also provided by ContiTech. Noise insulation is supplied by sound absorbers from ContiTech subsidiary Stankievicz .

The quality requirements of the Q7 are also seen in the high-quality materials in the interior. ContiTech subsidiary Benecke-Kaliko is represented here with covering material for door leaves and seats. These materials require little upkeep, are designed for a long service life.

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