Diesel fueled vehicles are considered by many to be a very important solution to America’s transportation concerns. Yet, many American drivers have a negative opinion of diesel powered vehicles. One of the main drawbacks for passenger car buyers is the perception that diesel engines are noisy. The rattling or knocking noise is created from the violent ignition created by the typical large single squirt of fuel into each cylinder of the diesel engine. That is old technology.
Audi continues work on changing the perception of diesel powered vehicles while broadening its appeal in the luxury vehicle category. As Audi engineers reduce the weight and more importantly the noise associated with diesel engines they are increasing the fuel economy achieved in their diesel powered vehicles. Audi’s newest V-6 Turbocharged Diesel (TDI) engines offer some of the highest MPG numbers available in luxury vehicles.
My latest test involved a trip to the California ski capitol, Lake Tahoe. This 600 mile excursion was made most pleasurable from behind the wheel of Audi’s mid-sized crossover the Q5. This able steed more than just transported me and my passengers up the mountain, the Q5 coddled and pampered us. All the while sipping fuel. We averaged 29 miles per gallon, which surprised me since the EPA ratings for the Q5 are 24 city and 31 highway. To achieve nearly 30 miles per gallon during a drive that took us from near sea level for over 10,000 feet is quite remarkable.
Oh, and the Audi performed quite well at that lofty height in part because it did not suffer the effects of thinner air that most vehicles do, partly through the turbocharged system. Most gasoline and diesel fuel vehicles must pull fresh air into the engine as it is mixed with the fuel in the cylinder chamber where it is ignited creating the power to motivate the vehicle. Then the engine must push the spent exhaust out to be forced out of the tailpipe. When an engine is either super charged or turbocharged the fresh air is forced into the engine reducing the effort expended by the engine to perform this task.
A number of benefits are realized. An increase in performance from smaller engines is the most talked about and the most sought after because high performance is more attractive to buyers. The ability to maintain the performance at all elevations is a benefit we see as we climb mountains and the air becomes thinner. Normal engines must work harder to maintain speed and performance not so with a turbocharger or supercharger.
New developments in fuel delivery have also made achieving the high fuel economy numbers possible. According to Bosch, suppliers of Audi fuel injection systems, Bosch and Audi have developed a new system that softens the knock commonly associated with diesel powered vehicles to a minor tick. Newly developed Piezo-inline injectors use two minor fuel sprays which begin the ignition cycle, a larger major spray at the peak and then a minor post-spray. This multiple injection process softens the explosive ignition there-by virtually eliminating the typical loud knock. This innovation not only reduces noise it improves fuel economy. Some Audi TDI vehicles fuel economy numbers are as high as 39 miles per gallon and average nearly 30 mpg during typical daily drive.
While fuel economy and performance are two of the top reasons buyers are attracted to a certain vehicle comfort. Functionality is equally important and the Audi Q5 fulfills these criteria especially well.
Sliding behind the wheel of the Q5 it is obvious this is a luxurious vehicle, well designed and built on top of that. The design incorporates a multitude of flowing lines made of trim pieces the fit tightly and give occupants the warmth of a well appointed lounge.
The interior is also tuned to the business of driving. Major instruments are placed before the driver in an easy to comprehend manner. Switches and controls are easy to manipulate and easily identified. Audi’s infotainment system has morphed into one that is much easier to use than some other autos. While all systems tend to require an introduction period with the Audi that effort is shortened and seems easier to master.
The Audi Q5 is categorized as a mid-sized crossover vehicle, but it feels much more accommodating than others I have driven. I was easily able to find a driving position that gave my rear seat passengers plenty of leg room, certainly important on a 600 mile drive. The storage area behind the rear seat was large and capable of handling all of our luggage and additional stuff. Although I must admit the space was, indeed, stuffed to the roof. Though we did not carry our skis and snow toys, the Q5 is equipped with roof rack that can accommodate a myriad of outdoor equipment.
Luxury, performance and mileage are all factors we all want in our new vehicle, and the Audi Q5 accommodates in all three categories. This is one vehicle that adds function to the list without sacrificing ones spirit. It is as though the family vehicle has grown up while at the same time adding an adventurous character.