Test drive Audi SQ8August 30, 2019
Full-chassis, active stabilizers, electronic differential and … diesel. How Audi SQ8 broke stereotypes about sports crossovers and what came of it
Diesel is in danger. The once most popular type of internal combustion engine in Europe risks finally becoming history. It’s all about the new environmental standards – Europe is already preparing a new regulation, which seems to kill diesel engines. Against this background, the release of the new Audi SQ8 with a 4-liter diesel V8 under the hood seems not just a bold move, but insolence.
The supercharged eight is the first diesel engine, which they began to equip with an electric compressor. Motor debuted three years ago on the flagship SQ7, and now it is put on the SQ8. The electric turbine starts working on it as soon as the driver presses the accelerator pedal. It pumps air into the cylinders until a conventional turbocharger spins from the energy of the exhaust gases. Further, up to about 2200 rpm, it is he who provides boost.
And then, in parallel with the first turbine, the second comes into play, and together they work until the cut-off. Moreover, for the activation of the second turbine its own individual exhaust valves with electronic control are provided, which simply do not open at low loads.
Actually, this scheme of sequential operation of the electric compressor and double boost ensures the complete absence of a turbojam. The peak torque of 900 N · m is available here already from 1250 rpm, and the maximum 435 horses are generally smeared on the shelf from 3750 to 4750 rpm.
In reality, the overclocking of the SQ8 is not as impressive as on paper. From a huge crossover that exchanges a 100 km/h in less than 5 seconds, you are waiting for a more emotional jerk from a place. Here, the acceleration is absolutely linear, without any bursts. Either because the gas pedal at the beginning of the stroke is too damped, or at an altitude of more than 3,000 meters above the sea, where our test takes place, the gigantic V8 under the hood of the SQ8 really lacks oxygen.
But the serpentines in the Pyrenees are the best suited chassis SQ8. Because it is, of course, reconfigured here. As with conventional cross-coupes, the characteristics of shock absorbers here vary depending on the selected driving mode. But Audi felt that this was not enough for the SQ8. Therefore, the car introduced a fully-controlled chassis with steering rear wheels, a sports electronically-controlled cross-axle differential of the rear axle and electromechanical anti-roll bars.
Moreover, to supply all these electromechanical systems (including electric pressurization and exhaust valve control systems), the SQ8 has a second on-board power supply network with a voltage of 48 volts. But if the rear-wheel-thrusters and the active differential have been used for a long time on charged Audi models, the active stabilizers are only on the “hot” crossovers.
Unlike conventional stabilizers, they consist of two parts, which are interconnected by a three-stage planetary gear with an electric motor. Depending on the magnitude of lateral accelerations, an electric motor using a gearbox can increase the stiffness of the stabilizers to more effectively deal with body rolls or “dissolve” them for comfortable movement on not-so-good coverage.
S-turns, hairpins, running arches – in turns of any complexity, the SQ8 dives with the hunt of a sports sedan and just as easily leaves them. The body rolls are minimal, the grip is phenomenal, and the cornering accuracy is filigree.
After an active attack, even a couple of turns you start to ask two questions. First: why do you need off-road mode here at all? Well, the second, more general: is it exactly a crossover?
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