DETROIT – Audi will continue a full-court press with diesel vehicles in the U.S., and a top executive says the German auto maker will bring to America a new diesel engine smaller than its current 2.0L 4-cyl. and potentially a V-8 turbodiesel as well.
Current offerings are limited to the 3.0L diesel V-6 in the Q7 TDI cross/utility vehicle and 2.0L in the A3 TDI 5-door compact. The diesel take-rate for each model is about 50%, the auto maker says. Diesels make up 5% of Audi’s overall vehicle mix in the U.S.
“Diesel now turns out as we projected,” Wolfgang Duerheimer, member of the Audi board of management for technical development, tells WardsAuto at the North American International Auto Show here. “It continues to be a big success story in the U.S.”
Asked if Audi customers should expect a turbodiesel even smaller and more fuel-efficient than the current 2.0L, Duerheimer says, “We’re working on diesel engines over the whole palette. We have V-8 diesels and also will look for small diesel versions in our cars in the future.”
Four new Audi TDI models will arrive by year’s end, all powered by the 3.0L diesel V-6 appearing now in the Q7, base-priced at $52,000. The rollout calls for the A8 TDI to arrive this spring, followed by the A7, A6 and Q5, all coming this fall.
Audi also unveils the Audi RS 7, which will be known as the Sportback in other markets. The 5-door coupe will be powered by the auto maker’s’s new 4.0L TFSI twin-turbo V-8, rated at 560 hp and 553 lb.-ft. (750 Nm) of torque.
Audi says the car can sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 3.9 seconds, and the speed governor can be deactivated upon customer request for a top speed of up to 190 mph (305 km/h).
While exceedingly quick, Audi says the RS 7 also will be fuel-efficient, capable of averaging 24 mpg (9.8 L/100 km), thanks to a standard stop/start system and innovative thermal management. Cylinder-deactivation also saves fuel by shutting down four cylinders at a time at low to medium loads and engine speeds.
Duerheimer says demand for RS high-performance variants of the TT and A5 coupes has outstripped supply. “The pipeline is empty. We project even bigger success for RS models in North America because the cars are quick, good-looking and differentiate from the standard version but not in a really aggressive way.”
Also unveiled here is the Audi SQ5, powered by the 354-hp 3.0L supercharged V-6 that has won four straight Ward’s 10 Best Engines trophies. Audi says the CUV can sprint to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 5.3 seconds and reach a top speed of 155 mph (250 km/h).
Like other auto makers, Duerheimer says Audi will continue to emphasize lightweight materials such as aluminum in an effort to meet pending corporate average fuel economy mandates in the U.S.
“Audi was a pioneer in aluminum technology in the automotive sector,” he says, referring to several generations of the aluminum-intensive A8 flagship sedan. Aluminum fenders and doors will become common industry-wide in the future.
However, steel and other materials still figure in Audi’s future. “Technology moves on, and in order to make the utmost lightweight construction we are not talking about 100% aluminum anymore,” Duerheimer says. “It’s now a mixture of different materials to achieve even lower weight.”