Audi SQ7 TDI is platform-sharing done right

In America, we’re very aware of badge-engineering in cars. In fact, American car companies are probably the most guilty of it. General Motors, for instance, has been known to sell Chevys badged as Buicks, Cadillacs and Pontiacs, without changing a single thing except for the badge on the hood. Nowadays, badge engineering isn’t nearly as present as it was a decade ago. However, there is still a practice that’s similar, but nets far better results — platform-sharing.

If you aren’t aware of platform-sharing, it’s the practice of creating one, scalable chassis architecture and building multiple different cars on it. While that may sound a bit like badge-engineering, it isn’t because the cars can be vastly different in almost every way. For instance, the Audi A4 and Bentley Bentayga are built on the same MLB platform that is used by the entire Volkswagen Group, and those cars couldn’t be more different. However, a car that also shares some lineage with the Bentley Bentayga, but also borrows some kit from it as well, is the Audi SQ7 TDI.

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The SQ7 is an example of when sharing platforms is a good thing, as it borrows technology from a much more expensive car. That’s called trickle-down technology. Car and Driver was recently able to sample the Audi SQ7 and came away impressed.

Audi SQ7 TDI

Things like rear-wheel steering and electronically-controlled anti-roll bars are borrowed directly from the Bentayga for the Audi SQ7 and they help it tremendously. According to Car and Driver, the SQ7 drives with the dynamic ability of a much smaller, lighter vehicle. It’s nimble and agile for an SUV of its size and it feels almost sports car-like. It will still understeer a bit and has a tendency to roll more than a sports car would, but it is a two-ton-plus SUV.

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However, the most impressive thing about the SQ7 TDI is its mighty engine. The 4.0 liter V8 diesel engine produces 435 hp and 664 lb-ft of torque, which makes the SQ7 capable of 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds. That’s brutally fast for an SUV and it feels even faster in the real world. The reason it has so much thrust is that Audi has fitted it with three turbochargers. Two of which are standard turbochargers in sequential order, meaning the one comes on earlier than the other. However, the third is an electronically-powered compressor (EPC in Audi speak) which basically acts as a third, electronic turbocharger that can spool up without exhaust gasses at just 1,000 rpm. Clever stuff. That EPC is powered by a separate 48-volt electrical system that also powers the electronically-controlled anti-roll bars, a system borrowed from the Bentayga. So Audi was able to borrow technology from another brand in its family and use it in its own way. That’s how platform-sharing is done right.

Audi SQ7 TDI

The Audi SQ7 TDI is a marvel of engineering, one that simply baffles the mind. It’s an SUV that certainly leaves its mark on the automotive world all while sharing quite a lot with another SUV. It helps that the other SUV is a $400,000-plus Bentley, but it’s still technically platform-sharing. However, the Audi SQ7 TDI is still its own car with its own personality and technology. The Audi SQ7 is platform-sharing done right.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.