Just yesterday the forward thinking German automaker Audi took us to lunch in order to tell us a little more about the benefits of their new TDI clean diesel technology. Sure diesel powered vehicles benefit from an already impressive range due to the efficiency of a diesel engine, but there were always the negative stigmas associated with the less refined fossil fuel like horrible cold starts, black bumpers and enough clacking to drive any owner insane; instead the four ringed automaker has figured out how to drastically reconfigure the diesel engine to work with ultra low sulfur diesel and make it much more user friendly in hopes that U.S. consumers will catch the alternative fuel bug.
The model that Audi of America brought down to sunny South Florida to show off the next generation of their TDI clean diesel campaign was a 2009 3.0 Liter TDI Q7, although for 2010 the larger Audi SUV will go under the knife and emerge from the operating room with a fresh facelift, we can still see the benefits of a luxury diesel vehicle. Next year’s model will feature a redesigned grill, new headlamps, new taillights (both beaming with little LEDs), as well as a new set of oversized side mirrors and a new array of wheels measuring up to 21 inches in diameter. Inside the sportiest of Q7’s the dash is adorned with decorative wood inlays and countless chrome accents while the obligatory heated and cooled seats remain and there is even a hand stitched Alcantara headliner available. One piece of technology that Audi is quite proud of is the high end computer chip that drives their new 3G navigation system, the piece was lifted from very advanced gaming systems and allows the LCD display to offer the passengers: a true road view complete with every curve of every off ramp, a topographical style map and the most impressive being the 3D landmark based display; so if you are driving down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C., the White House will show up on your navigation system.
What they were able to show us was the benefits of their new clean diesel vehicle. The 3.0 Liter TDI V6 under the hood of this Audi Q7 benefits from a variable vane turbocharger that virtually eliminates turbo lag, a high pressure piezoelectric common rail diesel injectors that are able to introduce just the right amount of diesel fuel in to the TDI power plant’s combustion chamber as the German engineers deemed necessary improving economy and reduce emissions as well as a next generation set of glow plugs that get to operating temperature in 2 seconds, even in sub zero temperature. The six cylinder TDI power plant makes a maximum output of 225 HP and an astounding 406 lb-ft of torque that still gets 25 MPG in the 5000+ pound SUV. This equates to a 600 mile range with the 25 gallon gas tank and even allows the Q7 to tow up to 6600 pounds of trailer.
The only added maintenance required with the new TDI clean diesel cars is the addition of a new canister of AdBlue, and exhaust treatment that works with a DeNOx filter to reduce the diesel engine’s emissions to the new stringent government regulations. However this is no cause for concern, because the special liquid doesn’t have to be replaced for 50,000 miles, and even then they will take car of it at the dealership when you bring your car in for scheduled maintenance. Most often when an automaker is forced to package in a new piece, something important usually has to go, but the meticulous German design team managed to maintain a full size spare.
When asked the most important question on consumer’s minds, how long will it take for a TDI clean diesel vehicle to pay off the premium over the standard gas burning Audi? Audi of America product manager and four ringed sports car specialist Chas Murphy assured us that it would take no longer than 3 years. However when we talk about that premium we also have to add that Audi is planning on selling every TDI powered Q7 with the automaker’s S line trim standard.