Audi, after dabbling in the American diesel market with its A3 TDI and Q7 TDI, is quickly moving to insert its 3.0-liter V6 diesel into several of more models for 2014 – including the A6 and A7 midsize sedans.
The Audi Q5 is the brand’s second best-selling model after the everyday A4, and it has also received the diesel treatment. So you’ll be seeing a lot more of these diesel Audi’s around town.
The Audi Q5 was in need of a little jolt, and with the addition of a new 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine, has been positively reinvigorated for 2014. Remember the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 engine that wowed everyone in the Q5’s bigbrother the Q7? Well, this is a slightly updated version of that powertrain in a lighter and more compact Q5, so the effect is amplified nicely.
The new diesel engine is actually an evolution of a unit the automaker first introduced into the European market a few years ago. The package has been lightened and upgraded for 2014, it boasts 240 horsepower and an insane 428 lb-ft. of torque (almost 2:1). The Q5 uses an AdBlue urea-based injection system to reduce noxious gas output from the tailpipe, to comply with emissions regulations in the U.S..
You never really feel like you’re driving a diesel though, in-fact Audi took special care to make the Q5 feel like anything but a diesel. Specially-tuned piezo injectors, a reduction of camshaft chains and a slew of other changes make the Q5 TDI remarkably quiet.
Fuel economy, naturally, is the biggest draw to a diesel. The Q5 doesn’t disappoint at 24/31 mpg (27 mpg combined), making the TDI the most efficient Q5 around. Yes, it bests even the Q5 Hybrid, but no one was buying that one anyway. Worth noting here, of-course, is that depending on where you live diesel prices may be a 8-10% bump over gasoline, negating some of the mpg savings, for those with higher intentions the emissions savings may be enough to justify.
The TDI uses an eight-speed automatic gearbox, same as the rest of the Q5 lineup, to send power to all four wheels. The only visual cues that you’re in the TDI are a different tachometer to reflect the diesel engine’s lower redline, a TDI badge on the trunk, and in the case of my tester a giant vinyl on the side of the vehicle. Other than that there are no visual cues that this Q5 is different from any other.
Audi has positioned the Q5 TDI below the Hybrid and the performance-oriented SQ5, topping out the volume-oriented Q5 grouping. Its $46,500 base price puts it at $2,100 over a gas-powered Q5 3.0T.
When I fired up the Q5 TDI Audi’s insistence that most drivers won’t realize they’re in a diesel was instantly validated. I actually wondered for a moment if they had perhaps put the vinyl on the wrong car. It’s just so unbelievably quiet.
If you give the Q5 a good punch at low speed you can coax the diesel engine into making its presence known with a slight rumble, but it always remains refined and a bit muffled. Diesel fans might be disappointed, but I’d wager a guess that the average Audi buyer will be thrilled with the engine’s silence.
The Q5 TDI accelerates beautifully from a stop with virtually no hint of turbo lag and runs from there thanks to its eight-speed automatic gearbox. The transmission, like the engine before it, remains mostly invisible thanks to its ability to always be in the right gear.
The TDIs quoted 0-60 time in the mid-six second range lives up to the hype, the Q5 TDI is a solid sprinter that not once felt out of breath. Mountain passes, a cabin full of full sized adult men, and quick merges were all a breeze.
The Audi Q5 is notably more compelling with this new diesel engine.Yes, you pay a premium for the TDI, but I’d gladly pay more up front to stop at gas stations less often. There’s also a compelling argument to be made for diesel-powered powered cars holding their value better over the long run. Plus, think about that torque!