Audi has just announced the gutsiest diesel-powered SUV ever, in its new SQ7 -- 320kW of power and an earth-moving 900Nm of torque, from a nearly-idling 1000rpm. The secret to that instant serve of motive power comes from Audi's first ever use of an electric turbocharger. The SQ7 is more than just its engine, too -- it also has one of the most advanced suspension systems ever fitted to a four-wheel drive.
The SQ7's impressive power output comes courtesy of its 4.0-litre biturbo V8 diesel engine, which is supplemented by the world-first application of an electrically powered compressor running off its own 48-volt battery system within the drivetrain. That electric turbo kicks in from a standstill -- it doesn't require the exhaust gas spin-up of traditional turbos -- and compresses air entering the SQ7's intake; all of this translates into more power at lower engine speeds. Step on the power, though, and variable valve lift will let both conventional turbochargers also help out.
Hitting 100km/h from a standstill in 4.8 seconds, you'd think the SQ7 sucks up fuel; it's actually surprisingly efficient with a combined cycle return of 7.4 litres per 100km. Limited to a 250km/h top speed for safety and tyre reasons, the SQ7 can also be fitted out with massively effective carbon ceramic brakes -- like the kind used on the new R8 -- for extra stopping power even at speed.
The SQ7's suspension, too, is tricky -- dual-mode anti-roll bars can be switched to suit relaxed comfort or spirited driving, and an optional sports differential on the rear wheels can be added on to help the big SUV around corners. It already has four-wheel steering and all-wheel-drive with torque vectoring, though, so it should be pretty damn capable despite its likely heavy weight. Inside, it's typical Audi plush comfort for driver and passengers alike, with leather throughout and Audi's excellent 12-inch digital dashboard and slick MMI in-car entertainment system for front and rear seats alike.
We don't know exactly when the SQ7 will hit Australian shores, but its European price of €89,900 translates into about $135,000 -- expect to see it a little further north of that when it comes to Australia later this year. [Audi]