Hot Audi SQ7 spied

First look at Audi SQ7, already confirmed for 2016 and powered by a V8 diesel with electric turbos, says technical chief

Last week we brought you confirmation that Audi is plotting a hot diesel-powered SQ7 model, and now we have first photos of that very car testing. Audi’s head of technical development, Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, told us on our recent final sign off drive of the new Q7 that an SQ7 will launch some time next year, powered by a V8 diesel engine featuring ‘e-boost’ electric turbochargers.

Audi hasn’t been so obvious as to add any ‘S’ badging to this prototype, but the giveaways are there nonetheless. The front foglights are bracketed by two chrome blades rather than simple black plastic, as on the standard model, and the front and rear underbody protection is bare metal, not body-coloured. At the back four large exhaust pipes replace the twin pipes on the entry-level six-cylinder model. First showcased on 2014 RS5 TDI-e concept, Audi’s ‘e-boost’ technology is designed to eliminate turbo lag for razor sharp throttle response – even in a diesel. The idea is that an electric motor spins up the turbo before the hot exhaust gases arrive and take over the job of compressing the air into the cylinders. The system only works up to around 3,000rpm before it’s no longer needed and bypassed completely.

As for the engine, Audi’s tried and tested 4.2-litre TDI unit that’s already fitted to the Porsche Cayenne Diesel S is the obvious candidate for the SQ7, but one engineer hinted that it might appear with a different, possibly 4.0-litre, capacity. It’s believed this same unit will also be used, albeit in a different state of tune, in the Bentley Bentayga with which the new Q7 shares its MLB-evo platform. Power and torque output in the RS5 TDI-e concept was 380bhp and 750Nm from a 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine, so expect the SQ7 to surpass that with over 400bhp and significantly more torque. Considering the current fastest Q7 – the 268bhp 3.0 TDI model – covers 0-62mph in 6.5 seconds, a time of around 5.5 seconds for the SQ7 is feasible. It’s closest rival will be the triple-turbo 376bhp BMW X5 M50d. According to Hackenberg, other Q7 variants under consideration - should the customer demand be sufficient – include a more off-road bias version. “It is possible to have this platform with a reduction gearbox, the VW Touareg will have it, but there is not the demand at present,” Hackenberg said. “But if there is a business case we could always do a small run.”

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