First Drive Review: 2010 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI
This 2010 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2014.
By Jim Hall of Road & Track
Miami, Florida — Loud and smelly. That's what I remember of the two cacophonous, smoke-belching, diesel-powered vehicles on my street back in my late 1970s'/early '80s' youth — a Volkswagen Rabbit and a Mercedes-Benz wagon.
My, how times change.
My 150-mile-plus journey from Miami International Airport to Sebring, Florida, to take in that city's famed endurance race, was in a diesel-powered variant of Audi's Q7 sport-utility vehicle, and what an eye-opener: Cruising at about 75 mph down Alligator Alley, the Q7's cabin sounded as quiet as that of any other luxury midsize SUV. And those funky, old diesel fumes from yesteryear? Nary a whiff.
Perhaps the best compliment I can give the Q7 diesel is that it lives and breathes just like any gasoline-powered car.
With its gasoline-fueled 3.6-liter V-6, featuring the company's FSI direct fuel injection, variable intake and dual overhead cams, the Q7 makes 280 bhp at a lofty 6200 rpm, 266 lb.-ft. of torque at a reasonably low 2750 rpm and is rated at 14 mpg city and 17 mpg highway. Contrast this with its oil-sipping self, a 3.0-liter V-6 TDI (Audi direct-injected diesel) that produces a peak 221 bhp but makes a stout 406 lb.-ft. of torque from 1750 through 2750 rpm. What's more, Audi says it delivers around 25 mpg in highway driving (no city mileage figures were given).
Audi touts its AdBlue urea-injection system as allowing the company to offer "the cleanest diesel in the world," and the first of these U.S.-bound engines featuring this technology is both 50-state legal and meets the Euro 6 emissions requirements beginning in 2014. To put the latter into perspective, their NOX limit will equate to 0.13 grams per mile. The current California limit is 0.07 g/mi. In Europe's favor, its 2014 particulate limit is a bit tighter than our current one.
Differences in diesel fuel standards in the U.S. and in Europe were a technical hurdle for Audi in bringing its 3.0 TDI diesel stateside. Our diesel's cetane number (CN) — a measurement of the combustion quality of diesel fuel — is most commonly found to be something between 39 and 46, whereas Europe set a minimum of 51 back in 2000.
The higher the number, the cleaner the fuel burns, so Audi had to tweak its system accordingly. (For a good contemporary diesel primer, check out Assistant Road Test Editor Calvin Kim's "Diesels — What's Going on Now and in the Near Future" story in the May 2008 issue.)
With a 26.0-gal. fuel tank and its expected freeway fuel economy, Audi's TDI-powered SUV should have a highway range greater than 600 miles from a topped-off tank.
If the Q7 diesel sells well here in America, look for an oil-burning powerplant to provide motion to the company's A4, A6 and possibly other models in the future.
Pricing was not discussed, but it would be safe to assume perhaps a $2000 to $3000 premium over the gasoline-powered, V-6-equipped base Q7's $42,500 window sticker.