After just hearing that Audi’s 3.0 liter TDI V6 engines have been violating the EPA’s emissions regulations, we take a look at the Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro TDI. The Q7 e-tron TDI uses the very same engine that has been claimed to be violating the US EPA’s regulations (though it may use a 2.0 liter TDI engine as well), however, it combines that engine with an electric motor and some batteries to create a plug-in hybrid diesel. Audi claims that this powertrain combination is good for 138.4 US mpg. That’s mighty impressive if true, but Autoblog observed a considerably lower, though still very healthy, 59 mpge.
To attempt such lofty claims of efficiency, Audi has gone through great lengths to provide the Q7 e-tron with some impressive electronics to help it achieve maximum efficiency. While driving the Q7 e-tron, Autoblog reported that it’s equipped with something Audi calls Predictive Efficiency Assistant (PEA) that uses the navigation system to predict how it should be driven. Basically, this works in one of two ways. The first way is if the driver inputs a navigation destination. If so, the Q7 e-tron will use the nav system to judge distance, elevation changes, traffic and stop signs to utilize the battery, electric motor and engine in such a way that it uses all of the battery power along the way. The reasoning for this is that electric miles are the least expensive and most efficient miles, so if it can cleverly use all of the battery throughout the trip, it will be saving you on fuel. Plus, it figures that you’ll be able to charge the vehicle when you get to your destination. The other way is if you don’t set a destination, it constantly monitors three miles ahead of you to search for traffic and elevation changes to constantly use the battery and engine in the most efficient way possible.
This is all fantastically impressive stuff. But none of it matters if the Q7 e-tron is a dog to drive. Turns out, though, that it isn’t. According to Autoblog, the Q7 e-tron makes no trouble of accelerating to 60 mph in 6.0, despite its massive 5,200 lbs or so. That’s because the total system power output is 373 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque. That massive torque figure makes pairing a diesel and electric motor together seem like something that should have been done ages ago.
But the Q7 e-tron isn’t just about brute force. It’s actually quite comfortable, quiet and easy to drive. Audi uses active engine mounts on the Q7 e-tron TDI, which Audi claims is a first on a diesel engine. These fire counter impulses to quell engine vibration in the cabin.
Diesel scandal aside, this Q7 e-tron Quattro TDI should be an incredibly impressive vehicle. Other automakers have been putting out hybrid SUVs, like the BMW X5 xDrive40e, but the Q7 e-tron TDI will be the only diesel powered one. Diesel power just makes so much sense in this segment, as it adds the most efficient kind of internal combustion engine with an electric motor to optimize fuel economy. It’s clearly a better idea than using a gasoline engine. Plus the added torque will help with the added heft of the batteries. This Q7 e-tron TDI seems like a homerun, but it won’t come cheap. Prices are said to start at 80,500 Euros in Germany, which equates to around $86,000 US. However, for a full-sized luxury SUV with all of the tech, comfort and performance that comes with the Audi Q7 e-tron TDI, that’s not too bad at all.