Audi’s SQ7 and SQ8 performance SUVs have swapped their diesel V8 for a more powerful petrol V8, less than a year after the facelifted diesel version went on sale.
The new twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre unit’s 500bhp output marks a significant 71bhp increase over the outgoing diesel, but torque is down 96lb ft at 568lb ft. Both cars are now capable of covering 0-62mph in 4.1sec - a 0.7sec improvement - and 50-75mph in just 3.8sec. Top speed is an electronically limited 155mph.
Unlike the diesel, the TFSI petrol motor does not feature 48V mild-hybrid technology, but Audi highlights new efficiency-boosting features, such as a ‘cylinder on demand’ system, which shuts down four cylinders when possible to reduce fuel consumption, and optimised gas exchange between the turbochargers and chambers for improved combustion.
WLTP testing figures are yet to be revealed, but the SQ7 and SQ8 are unlikely to match the outgoing versions’ 29.4–31.4 mpg consumption rating and 235-252g/km CO2 output. The Porsche Cayenne GTS, which uses a variant of the same V8, is capable of 20.0-21.2mpg and emits between 301 and 319g/km of CO2.
Audi claims the new engine gives a “classic V8 soundtrack” that can be altered at will according to the driving situation and says oscillating coils in the active engine mounts minimise vibration in the cabin to improve refinement.
Four-wheel steering, previously reserved for top-rung Vorsprung editions of the warm SUVs, is now standard across the range. At low speeds, the rear wheels turn by up to 5deg in the opposite direction to reduce the turning circle, while at speeds of more than 37mph, they imitate the movements of the front wheels to enhance stability in corners.
As before, air suspension, quattro permanent all-wheel drive and an eight-speed automatic gearbox are standard fitment across the line-up. UK pricing will be confirmed nearer the duo's autumn on-sale date, but Audi quotes a roughly £78,000 starting price for the SQ7 and £83,000 for the SQ8.
Highly specified Vorsprung trim remains an option and brings electromechanical active roll stabilisation for reduced roll and a smoother ride, and a sport-specification differential that varies torque distribution across the rear axle. Additional infotainment, connectivity and driver assistance functions are included as well.
The range-toppers buck Audi Sport’s recent trend of switching its S models from petrol to diesel power. Audi UK boss Andrew Doyle said: “Petrol engines are becoming increasingly prevalent in the high-performance SUV segment on the strength of the great efficiency gains made in recent years, and we are acknowledging that trend with these upgraded models.”
The S4, S5 and S6 sports saloons recently made the swap to a hybridised diesel V6, while the larger S8 packs a petrol V8 with 562bhp, making it the most potent model in the S range.