Volkswagen Group’s diesel shenanigans may have dealt a substantial blow to the progress that the fuel has made in America, but in Europe and elsewhere, it’s still relied upon as the fuel of choice. To prove that the story’s not over, Audi — a VW sub-brand that has notably been swallowed by the Dieselgate scandal — is doubling down with a TDI-powered SQ7.
The SQ7 joins the SQ5 in Audi’s performance SUV portfolio, and is the first time Audi has applied the S treatment to its flagship people hauler. Rather than dip a toe in the water, Audi has cannonballed right in; the SQ7 produces 435 horsepower, and a monstrous 664 pound-feet of torque. That’s 14 more pound-feet than a Dodge Charger Hellcat.
Audi was able to extract the Saturn V-like power from a triple-turbocharged V8, which produces the third-most amount of torque in Volkswagen Group’s factory spec — behind only the Bugatti Chiron and Bentley Mulsanne Speed. Two of the turbos are normal, exhaust-breathing components, while the third is electronically driven, which negates any turbo lag.
Additionally, the SQ7 uses a 48-volt electric subsystem to power the electric compressor, which also provides electricity for a new electromechanical roll stabilization system that relies on an electric motor and a three-stage planetary gearbox to keep it all level and improve ride quality over rough surfaces. The SQ7 also employs a four-wheel steering system.
Were this a normal gasoline V8, fuel economy would be … well, subpar. But because it’s a diesel, Audi claims that the triple-charged TDI V8 won’t consume much more than a V6-powered Q7 would. “Following the launch of the successful SQ5, we are now also applying the concept of a diesel-engined S model to the Q7 model line,” said Dr. Stefan Knirsch, a member of the Board of Management of AUDI for Technical Development. “So equipped, the SQ7 TDI with a V8 TDI engine achieves the consumption figures of a six-cylinder. The new technology solution of the electric powered compressor in the SQ7 TDI is a world first in the competitive environment, he added in the press release.
The interior looks largely like a regular Q7, though Audi has painted it with the S-Sport brush to give it touches like analogue instruments with gray faces and white needles, special welcome screens, and S badges. Buyers can also choose between sport seats and … well, not sport seats.
Pricing will likely be gratuitous, but it doesn’t really matter all that much because it’s unlikely that we’ll see the SQ7 for sale on American shores. So — as per usual — we’ll have to gaze at Audi’s latest unobtainium from this side of the pond.