Audi has for a number of years now looked toward diesel power for some of its high performance offerings. Ever since the introduction of a TDI into the iconic Le Mans 24 hour race diesel has become more than just agricultural juice. The latest pair of oil burning siblings to join the Audi Sport line-up seem to be the best yet.
We South Africans love our SUVs and we love them more when there is a big diesel lump under the bonnet. Audi has just introduced its biggest diesel lump into the SQ7 and SQ8 offerings in the form of a V8. This high-performance turbo diesel is one of the most powerful on offer with 310kW and 900Nm of torque.
The twin-turbo V8 accelerates both models from zero to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds. The electronics limit the propulsion at 250 km/h. Depending on the equipment, the SQ7 TDI consumes around 8.7 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres in a combined cycle. For the SQ8 TDI, these figures are 8.3 litres which with our experience with a few other Audi diesel products recently is more than achievable.
A quickly shifting eight-speed tiptronic and the quattro permanent all-wheel drive put the power of this 4.0 TDI onto the road. A clutch in the automatic transmission engages freewheeling when the driver takes their foot off the accelerator. In regular driving operation, the purely mechanical centre differential distributes the drive torque to the front axle and rear axle at a ratio of 40:60. If traction decreases at one axle, it directs most of the torque to the other axle – up to 70% to the front or up to 85% to the rear axle.
Audi provides the SQ7 and SQ8 TDI with the adaptive air suspension sport system which integrates controlled dampers. It is capable of varying the ride height of the body by up to 90 millimetres (vehicle height is 15 millimetres lower than the adaptive air suspension option). The optional all-wheel steering consists of two components. The front axle steering, which has a sporty and direct gear ratio of 13.3:1, increases the vehicle’s agility and manoeuvrability considerably. A spindle drive influences the rear wheels: At low speed, it turns them by up to 5 degrees in the opposite direction, which makes it easier to manoeuvre. From a speed of about 60 km/h, it turns them slightly in the same direction for improved stability during fast changes of direction in particular.
As a central control unit, the electronic chassis platform (ECP) connects the controlled suspension systems, with the exception of all-wheel steering. The driver experiences this close and lightning-fast coordination as maximum handling precision. They decide how the controlled suspension components as well as the 4.0 TDI and the tiptronic are to operate via the Audi drive select system. The driver can choose from seven driving profiles: comfort, auto, dynamic, efficiency, allroad, offroad, and individual.
As standard, the Audi SQ7 and SQ8 are fitted with 21-inch Audi Sport wheels with an option to upgrade to 22-inch (for the SQ7) and up to 23-inch (for the SQ8). Brake discs measuring 400 millimetres in diameter are fitted to the front axle, with 350 millimetre discs on the rear axle. The red brake callipers feature an S logo on the front axle and are standard for both models.
In terms of controls, infotainment, and connectivity, the Audi SQ7 and Audi SQ8 are equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The MMI touch response control system integrates two large displays in the centre of the instrument panel. They have a 10.1-inch and 8.6-inch diagonal measurement respectively, and respond with haptic and acoustic feedback to all finger input. The menu structure makes it easy to control with flat hierarchies. The user can configure the interface of the upper display such that they can follow multiple apps at the same time.
A head-up display that projects important information onto the windshield is available as an option. The standard Audi virtual cockpit plus with S-specific views is controlled via the multifunction steering wheel and serves as the standard display instrument. The driver can activate different screens, including an “S-Performance” look. It shifts the focus to the rev counter and displays the power output and torque as percentages.
Local pricing and availability
The SQ7 and SQ8 TDI are officially available for sale in South Africa in limited numbers as part of a once-off launch opportunity. The models are priced as follows (inclusive of all taxes) and comes standard with a five year Audi Freeway Plan:
Audi SQ7 TDI quattro R 1,679,500
Audi SQ8 TDI quattro R1,848,500