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Posts tagged: diesel

Audi Q7 a rare combination

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Audi’s Q7 is a big, meaty slice of German engineering, a seven-passenger crossover with a lust for the open road.

Though it hasn’t had a significant makeover in its seven-year existence, the Q7 offers fully modern levels of comfort, safety and luxury.

Three engine choices — two gas, one diesel — provide the motivation. A silken eight-speed automatic dishes torque to the standard quattro all-wheel-drive system. Four or five adult occupants ride in sumptuous comfort. Small children will survive in vestigial third-row seating.

From behind the wheel, the Q7 feels exactly like the large, powerful rig it is. It’s a road-going machine, designed to cover large distances and rugged conditions. Because it’s an Audi, ride and handling is a sizable cut above. 

And though its best side shines brightest out on the two-lane blacktop, the Q7 also has a city side. Ride quality is very good and instant throttle response provides the thrust and surge necessary for successfully negotiating traffic-clogged thoroughfares.

At its $47,700 base price, the Q7 is well-equipped. Leather, adaptive xenon headlights and a premium 11-speaker sound system are just the tip of the standard-features iceberg. Too many ticks of the options list, thought, elevate the price into astronomical ranges — and can impair performance.

To wit, our diesel-powered tester was optioned with the S line plus appearance package, which replaces the 18-inch all-season radials with 21-inch summer tires that perform poorly on rutted and snow-covered roadways.

Such as the hill that gets me home. 

Twice during my weeklong test, I was forced to park at the bottom of the hill and hoof it home, and every drive on packed snow evoked a tense tiptoe ballet between traction and skid.

This is not to warn buyers off the S plus line — it comes with killer titanium-finish 5-spoke alloys — but to illustrate the hazards of ill-chosen options. Just keep a good set of snow tires to back up the hotrod rubber.

The turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel that powered my tester ran quiet and smooth. It makes 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque and earns EPA ratings of 18 mpg city/28 mpg highway/22mpg combined.

Despite those lofty numbers, the diesel doesn’t lack for get-up-and-go. Acceleration is strong and certain and the Tiptronic gearbox makes swift, sure shifts that keep the engine in the heart of its power band.

A supercharged 3.0-liter gasoline engine produces 280 hp on base trims and 333 hp on the performance-oriented S line. Both versions earn a 18 combined mpg (16 city/22 mpg highway).

The Q7 cabin earns top marks for style, materials quality and ergonomics. Audi’s MMI electronics interface presents the usual learning-curve issues, but is easier and safer to use than the current crop of touchscreen systems.

Cargo capacity is the weak link in the Q7 chain, with a total capacity of about that of a compact crossover. 

The Q7 offers a rare combination of drivability, functionality and comfort. Crossover buyers seeking something out of the ordinary would do well to shoot it a glance.

Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer. Contact  him at don@dadair.com.

2014 Audi Q7 TDI quattro Tiptronic
Vehicle base price: $47,700
Trim level base price: $52,900
As tested: $81,795
Key options included navigation; Bang & Olufsen sound system; air suspension; corner-view camera system; S line and S line plus appearance packages; parking system with rearview camera
EPA rating: 19 city/28 highway
Diesel fuel required

Green cars slug it out in Portland

Yesterday, members of the Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA) gathered in Portland to drive and rate an assortment of “green cars.” What I learned tooling around downtown Portland:
 
  • Sustainability is high on the automotive agenda. We drove 17 hybrids, plug-in hybrids, clean diesels and electric vehicles from a variety of domestic and foreign makers.
  • In these early stages of the green-car game, efficiency-minded buyers pay a premium for their good intentions.
  • My mother was right: I have a champagne appetite on a beer budget.
The NWAPA Winners
 
EV: Fiat 500e
Diesel: Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel
Hybrid: Chevrolet Volt
 
Impressions
 
EVs
 
The EV field ranged from the cute-as-a-button, two-passenger Fiat 500e ($33,495) to Ford’s electronics-laden Focus Electric ($39,995). My top picks: the Focus and Nissan’s Leaf ($36,910), whose range, roominess and overall utility are first rank. Honorable mention — based entirely on style points — goes to the Fiat.
 
Notes: 1) All EVs are eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit; 2) Although GM calls the Volt an EV, the EPA calls it a hybrid, which is where NWAPA put it. 2) Honda’s new Fit EV impressed, but I DQed it for being available in only seven states, none of them Washington. 
 
Clean Diesels
 
This growing segment produces vehicles as diverse as Chevy’s new Cruze Turbo Diesel ($25,795) and Audi’s A8L Quattro Tiptronic ($99,445). My picks: the A8L which, despite its limo-like heft earns EPA ratings of 24 city/36 highway, and the VW Beetle TDI Convertible ($28,690), the only diesel convertible available in the States.
 
Notes: Today’s diesels are quiet and refined. They make bundles of torque while producing up to 30 percent fewer emissions than comparable gasoline engines.
 
Hybrids/Plug-in Hybrids
 
Both varieties of hybrid outsell the other categories by a wide margin — and the competitors keep getting better. I liked the Volt ($45,540) and found it impossible to deny a spot to the Prius V ($35,704).
 
Notes: This segment produced the day’s most pricey competitor, the Lexus LS 600h L ($128,529), a lovely car whose 19/23 mileage ratings more or less defeat the purpose.
 
What Mom Said
 
Mom was right, of course. Of all the worthy cars I could have chosen as a personal favorite, I picked the over-the-top Audi Quattro diesel. A hoot to drive and the absolute pinnacle of diesel refinement.

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