Every year, Autocar hosts a series of awards given out to cars that achieve great things that year. This year, Autocar has given the brand-new Audi SQ7 TDI their “Innovation Award” for being, well, innovative.
While a brutishly powerful diesel SUV might not typically be something one would call “Innovative”, but the Audi SQ7 TDI is a different kind of brute. It isn’t just a big diesel engine with gobs of power, there’s some very clever tech going on underneath its skin and it’s tech that not only makes the SQ7 powerful and efficient, but it’s tech that can help shape the future of the automobile.
If that sounds a bit dramatic, maybe it is, but the SQ7 does have technology that will be adopted into more cars in the future. The Audi SQ7 TDI’s engine uses two traditional turbochargers like most turbo-diesel engines, but it also employs a third, electrically powered compressor (EPC) which acts like an electric turbocharger. This provides instantaneous boost to eliminate turbo lag, which could be used in the future on many other cars to allow for even smaller displacement engines to provide smooth and efficient power.
The SQ7 TDI also has active anti-roll bars which stiffen up as the car turn in, allowing for much flatter cornering, but it can also slacken them up when driving in a straight line, for superior comfort. It’s a similar system to the one in the Bentley Bentayga. In fact, it’s actually the same system and was borrowed from Audi by Bentley. Just don’t say that to the folks in Crewe.
Both the EPC and active anti-roll bars are powered by a separate 48v electrical subsystem, as the standard 12v system is simply too slow to react in the time that those systems require. These systems, and the 48v subsystem, will almost certainly be adopted by other cars in the future, as they solve some of the problems in today’s cars. The EPC can help with smaller displacement engines and hybrids in the future and the active anti-roll bars will be able to allow for SUVs and larger luxury vehicles to handle the way enthusiasts would like, especially as EV SUVs get heavier and heavier.
So while it might be a bit strange to consider a turbo-diesel SUV being considered the most innovative car of 2016, these new innovations are certainly important enough for the Audi SQ7 TDI to earn the honor.