For ages, Audi has continually tried to push diesel powered cars on an American market that, for many silly reasons, just isn't all that interested.
Audi has a prototype of a car in Germany that could make Americans love diesels more than their own firstborn child. And I just drove it.
(Full Disclosure: Audi wanted me to drive the A6 Elektischer Biturbo so bad that they flew me to Munich — no, not Munich, California, but the one in Germany — during Oktoberfest, put me up in an efficient economy hotel, and is sending me to Paris tomorrow for more car goodness.)
While diesel has always made a boatload of low end torque, there is still some turbo lag at lower RPMs. But it seems like Audi has found a pretty great solution for that problem.
The A6 Elektischer Biturbo has a 3.0 liter turbodiesel V6, which I was told is the same as the engine in the new SQ5. That means you get 306 horsepower and 479 pound feet of torque. That makes for a quick ride. But there is a noticeable area below 3,000 RPM where the engine just falls flat on its face.
That's where the words 'Elektischer Biturbo,' which mean Electric Twin Turbo, come in. At low RPMs, a small electric motor works with a second turbo to get the compression dance started before the big turbo can take off.
The result is awesome. In my brief time in the car, we did a few standing starts and acceleration runs to see the difference. With the turbo off, the car is quick, but still has a problem gathering steam below 3,000 RPM. But when the engineer flipped a switch on the dash (which would be absent from a production car), that all changed.
Power delivery with the electric turbo on became instantaneous at low RPMs. It is seriously a rocketship. Peak torque, which I was told remains unchanged with the new turbo, hits earlier and it just keeps pushing; seriously impressive stuff. I was also told that it has an effect on the highway, since it would lessen the need for downshifts to pick up steam.
The SQ5 scoots to 62 MPH in just 5.1 seconds, so it's not a stretch to think this vehicle can hit similar speed goals while still producing better-than-gasoline fuel economy.
The diesel sounded badass too. It had this low rumble that just made it sound evil. Imagine James Earl Jones gargling fire. You know what that sounds like? No? Well that's what it sounds like.
If Audi were to make this car and badge it an S6 TDI, I'd have no issues with that whatsoever. And they better push it on us Americans.