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Diesel V12 tops upgraded Audi Q7 range

Talk about torque: Audi's new Q7 V12 diesel sets a new torque benchmark at 1000Nm.

Prime-moving 6.0-litre V12 diesel headlines midlife facelift for big Audi Q7 SUV

18 Nov 2009

THE world’s most powerful diesel SUV, Audi’s 6.0-litre Q7 V12 TDI, has been released in Australia with more of a whimper than a bang.

First revealed more than three years ago at the 2006 Paris motor show, the physics-defying seven-seater has attracted eight pre-orders here – despite its gob-smacking $254,900 pricetag – but so far just one example has arrived.

The local launch of the flagship Q7 was delayed to coincide with the availability of a midlife facelift for Audi’s four-year-old full-size SUV range, first examples of which are now also on sale, with minimal price increases.

The upgraded Q7 line-up, which comes with a number of cosmetic and mechanical revisions and was also announced yesterday via a short press release with no specifications, is the latest in an ongoing flurry of new Audi models.

This year Audi, which has already notched up more than 10,000 sales for the first time in 2009, released the new S4, Q5 and S5 Cabriolet, plus the facelifted A6, R8 V10 and A4 S-tronic.

Not finished yet, Audi will release the S5 Cabriolet and TT RS sportscars the week before Christmas, followed next year by the new A5 and S5 Sportback, R8 Spyder super-convertible and redesigned A8 sedan flagship.

While the all-new A8 is expected to debut globally at the Los Angeles motor show next week, the Sportback should be on sale here by February and the R8 Spyder by October.

A further two additional models will join Audi showrooms in 2011: the A1 city-car that was confirmed for production by Audi in May and will enter production next year, and the smaller SUV sibling for the Q7 and Q5 – the Q3.

The Q7 V12 TDI, however, is claimed to be the first series-production vehicle to be fitted with a V12 diesel engine, and the first Audi model to be powered by a production version of the full-house 478kW (650hp) 5.5-litre V12 TDI engine that powers the company’s triple Le Mans-winning R10 racecar.

Supplied by what’s claimed to be the world’s first 2000-bar common-rail fuel system and 2.7-bar of boost pressure from each turbocharger, the 60-degree 6.0-litre V12 unleashes 368kW (500hp) of power at 3750rpm and a staggering 1000Nm of torque between 1750 and 3000rpm.

Driving through a modified version of the six-speed automatic/permanent all-wheel drive system that’s standard in all Q7s, the performance shames every diesel passenger car on the planet, including the facelifted Q7 4.2 TDI, whose diesel V8 still produces 760Nm from 1750rpm but increases its peak power output from 240kW to 250kW.

It also out-muscles the twin-turbo 5.0-litre diesel V10 from parent company Volkswagen, whose Touareg V10 TDI produces 230kW at 3750rpm and 750Nm at 2000rpm and whose flagship Touareg R50 offers 258kW at 3500rpm and 850Nm at 2000rpm.

However, while its 1000Nm torque output matches that of the twin-turbo 6.0-litre petrol V12 AMG engine fitted to the Mercedes S65L, SL65 and CL65, its 368Nm power peak is matched by the Porsche Cayenne Turbo (368kW/700Nm) and bettered by the Mercedes ML63 AMG (375kW/630Nm 6.2-litre petrol V8) and Cayenne Turbo S, which runs an even zanier 404kW/750Nm 4.8-litre twin-turbo petrol V8.

7 center imageMotivated by a 408kW/680Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbo petrol V8, next month’s new BMW X6 M (and January’s X5 M) will set new power and performance benchmarks for an SUV. Like the Audi, both BMW’s are limited to a top speed of 250km/h.

Despite weighing 400kg more than the relatively lightweight (2235kg) Q7 3.6 FSI quattro, Audi says the Q7 V12 TDI sprints to 100km/h in just 5.5 seconds. While that’s pretty rapid for any vehicle, let alone one that weighs 2635kg, it’s not as quick as the X6 (4.7 seconds), Cayenne Turbo S (4.8), ML63 (5.0) or Cayenne Turbo (5.1).

On the seven-seat Audi’s side is fuel efficiency, with the Q7 V12 TDI’s Euro 5 emissions-compliant oil-burner returning official EU combined diesel consumption of 11.3L/100km, which eclipses both V10 Touaregs (12.6L/100km) and makes a mockery of its petrol-powered luxury SUV rivals, including the X5 and X6 (14.3L/100km), Cayenne Turbo/S (14.9L/100km) and ML63 AMG (16.5L/100km).

The Q7 V12 TDI’s efficient performance comes at a price, however, with its near-$255,000 pricetag making it Audi’s most expensive model bar the R8 supercar, RS6, S8 and A8 6.0 LWB quattro.

At twice the price of the Q7 4.2 TDI, the Q7 V12 is also the most expensive SUV available in Australia bar the Cayenne Turbo S ($281,400), with even the performance benchmark-setting X6 and X5 M models costing a respective $75,000 and $82,000 less.

The rest of the facelifted Q7 range also receives fuel consumption improvements, but there is no sign of the ‘clean-diesel’ version of the six-cylinder diesel variant now available in Europe.

The four direct-injection V6 and V8 petrol and diesel engines previously offered by Audi in Australia continue, but now come with a new energy recovery system that converts mechanical energy into electric energy during braking and coasting, before buffer-storing it in the battery. Audi claims it reduces CO2 emissions by up to five grams per kilometre, with more significant savings in traffic.

The range is again opened by the Q7 3.6 FSI quattro, which is now priced $371 higher than before at $86,900. Outputs of the petrol V6 Q7 is unchanged at 206kW/360Nm, but consumption drops from 12.7 to 12.1L/100km.

Similarly, the price of the Q7 3.0 TDI quattro rises by just $158 to $88,700, while fuel consumption drops from 10.5 to 9.1L/100km and performance increases from 171kW/500Nm to 176kW/550Nm.

The unavailable Q7 3.0 TDI clean-diesel, which meets 2014 Euro 6 emissions regulations and runs the V12’s 2000-bar fuel-injection system, but requires diesel fuel with a 10ppm sulphur content, is even more frugal at 8.9L/100km.

Similar revisions to the V8 diesel engine in the Q7 4.2 TDI ($127,900 – up $60) see it reduce consumption from 11.1 to 9.9L/100km, while the petrol V8 of the Q7 4.2 FSI, which costs just $56 more at $122,600, delivers the same 257kW/440Nm but lowers its consumption from 13.8 to 12.7L/100km.

All 2010 Q7s will feature new wheels, a redesigned version of Audi’s trademark single-frame grille (with a black high-gloss finish contrasting with chromed vertical bars), different front bumpers with contrasting black or grey lower sections and a ribbed-design for the newly integrated underbody protection feature.

There are also modified side door mouldings and the Q7’s rear bumpers receive two-tone paintwork, while the tailgate features a modified registration plate area.

Four new exterior paint colours – Ibis White, Graphite Gray metallic, Teak Brown metallic and Orca Black metallic – bring the total to 11, while the RS hues Mugello Blue and Daytona Grey are exclusive to the V12.

The exterior also adds the option of an aluminium package, which comprises chrome bars in the bumpers and door mouldings, body-coloured lower bumper sections and a contrasting-colour for the centre of the front apron and rear diffuser.

The Q7 interior, which continues to offer a voluminous total luggage capacity of 2035 litres, also comes in for a mild cosmetic makeover, led by a redesigned instrument cluster comprising metallic frames for the large round dials, plus a third-generation MMI navigation system as standard in V8 and V12 models.

Interior lights are now fitted in the door linings, the passenger side features a new inlay and chrome highlights have been added to a range of controls. Interior colours are also revised, via the addition of Para Brown, Savannah Beige and Cardamon Beige leather colours.

Among the fresh Q7 options is a new adaptive light system that integrates the low-beam, high-beam and special superhighway beam with the turning and cornering lights. U-shaped daytime LED running lights are available with Xenon headlights (which are optional on V6 models), while the front indicators are now also composed of LEDs arranged in a straight line.

Audi Q7 range pricing:
3.6 FSI quattro $86,900
3.0 TDI quattro $88,700
4.2 FSI quattro $122,600
4.2 TDI quattro $127,900
V12 TDI quattro $254,900

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