For those who missed the announcement in the wake of the Geneva Motor Show last week, the new Audi SQ7 TDI is a technological tour de force. It packs a 4.0-liter V8 diesel engine, augmented by two turbochargers and an electric compressor to produce 435 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. It debuts a new 48-volt electrical system that powers one of the compressor and the electromechanical adaptive suspension. And just for good measure, it also features an eight-speed automatic transmission, a four-wheel steering system and all-wheel drive.
The vehicle represents the first time Ingolstadt has applied the S performance badge to its largest model, and though initially announced for Europe, Dahncke's optimism leaves us hopeful in turn that it could steam its own way to American shores. If that optimism proves justified, the next big question is whether it will stick with the diesel engine or switch to a similarly powerful engine burning gasoline to more closely match American preferences – much as it did in bringing the smaller SQ5 to the US. But Dahncke tells us they "expect it to be a TDI if it does come."
The decision to market a powerful diesel SUV in America would be a bold move on Audi's behalf, particularly in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal. The debacle is still fresh on the public's mind, having rocked the entire Volkswagen Group of which Audi is part – and historically a major proponent of diesel propulsion. If approved for the US market as proposed, the SQ7 TDI would far outshine the diesel versions of the Mercedes GL-Class, Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5, and Range Rover currently available – not to mention the 3.0-liter V6 TDI with 240 hp and 428 lb-ft of torque in many of Audi's models (which are, at the time of this writing, affected by a stop-sale in the US).