Boxy, compact and easy on fuel … yawn, that sounds like your typical econobox, but for one key trait, the Audi A3 handles like a sports sedan.
That’s what it is, an entry-level sports sedan somewhat along the lines of a small BMW, just not a BMW. Handling is excellent and as good as, or better than, any other small sports sedan in the $32 grand neighborhood, except a BMW.
Yet that’s OK, because it costs less and the red test model also had another big plus that a BMW won’t, a mostly entertaining clean diesel engine.
Mine was the TDI, which translates to a 2.0-liter turbo diesel that starts at $32,600, and adds an $895 delivery charge. But equipped, as this one was, with the Premium Plus package, you tack on $2,550. With a $2,600 Audi MMi navigation package the test car settled at $38,645.
Still, that’s reasonable for a sporty car that gets 31 mpg city and 43 mpg highway, according to the EPA. As impressive as that sounds, I managed an amazing 46.3 mpg in a round-trip jaunt to Indianapolis. In one nearly straight (hey, it was Indiana) highway stint I got 50 mpg on the button. The one-way diesel bill was $16 and change. When full the car boasts a 600-mile range.
Audi Q5 blends luxury, utility with clean turbo diesel
Luxury sport-utility vehicles all pretty much look alike, and all are loaded with luxury and high-tech features, so it’s in the blending of all these features where excellence outs itself.
Even in high-end utes it has been uncommon for me to be fully comfortable with the size, the looks, the performance and the fuel consumption. Audi’s Q5 changed all that.
This was not your standard Q5 either. This was the TDI quattro model with 8-speed Tiptronic automatic that allows you to paddle shift your way through the gears, if you so choose. TDI stands for Turbo Direct Injection and the Glacier White Metallic ($500 extra) test ute wasn’t shy about its diesel power, slapping a bold TDI decal on the doors and the words, “Clean Diesel” under that.
First, Audi has done more for diesel in the last 10 years than any automaker, both in development and in publicity. Audi developed a turbo diesel for its prototype racers, even winning the noted 24 Hours of LeMans endurance race with a turbo-diesel powered racer.
So power and efficiency are built into the Q5’s 3.0-liter TDI V6. How much? This boasts 240 horsepower while delivering an EPA estimated 24 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Those look like reasonable estimates as I got 27.5 mpg in a week’s drive, about 60% being city miles. Continue reading 2014 Audi Q5 TDI quattro→
Passat’s diesel economical and we’re not blowing smoke!
Perception often matters as much as reality, especially in the retail world of which the auto business is a top dog.
So the perception of a diesel engine being loud, smoky and not terribly pleasant to drive remains Volkswagen’s biggest obstacle when selling its pleasant mid-size front-drive Passat. This and the Chevrolet Cruze are the main turbo diesel cars available on our market today.
Their advantage is excellent fuel economy and reduced engine maintenance. That’s the case for both.
But VW has been offering its turbo diesels (TDI in VW parlance) for years, so you’d expect its version to perform better and feel more refined. It does not. My test earlier this year of the Cruze shows it to be quieter, run smoother and feel, well, more refined.
However, the tested champagne silver Passat TDI SEL, got excellent fuel mileage. Rated 30 mpg city and 40 mpg highway, I got a stellar 41.4 mpg in about a 50-50 mix of city and highway driving. The Cruze, while rated at 27 mpg city and 46 mpg highway netted me just 35 mpg in a drive tilted toward highway miles. Continue reading 2013 Volkswagen Passat TDI SEL→
Give Chevrolet full credit on this one, it took a turbo diesel it uses in Europe, a hot bed for turbo diesels, and plunked it into its popular Cruze for the U.S. market.
Why the accolades for Chevy? Well, it’s the first U.S. automaker to give us a clean turbo diesel that gets way above average mileage and is affordable. Oh, and it also outperforms its only competition, Volkswagen, in the vital highway mileage department. Bravo!
Plus, because Milwaukee is a leading market for diesel sales (no one is sure why!), we get first crack at the new Chevy turbo diesel, while other Midwest markets may have to wait months to see one. A GM spokesman tells me the Cruze diesels should be in Milwaukee area dealerships shortly.
But I got my hands on one already and I can tell you it was pretty impressive.
Here are the basics. Chevrolet is using its proven 2.0-liter I4, turbo diesel from its European branch in the mid-size Cruze, already a favorite with young families and stingy Baby Boomers who know a bargain when they see one. The diesel delivers about 148 hp, but a whopping 258 ft.-lbs. of torque smoothly via a 6-speed automatic transmission. Continue reading 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Turbo Diesel→