What is it?
This is the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel. Over the next few years, diesel cars are going to get slightly more complicated. Strict Euro6 emission regulations kicking in from 2014 will require most oil burners to use a urea-based additive called AdBlue, which, with engine management changes, almost eliminates smog-generating nitrogen oxide (NOx).
The need to meet similar regulations in the US right now means selling the technology in Europe, so the newly facelifted Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel is the first low-NOx diesel to be offered in the UK, and the first to need AdBlue. Its additional 23-litre tank, good for over 18,000 miles, is replenished during services, its filler positioned beside the diesel’s. A special tool is used to remove its cap and prevent mis-fuelling.
Revised injection and emission controls complete the Clean Diesel modifications, which add a sizeable £1500 to the price of the still-available conventional 3.0 TDI V6. NOx output drops by around 90 per cent, but the fuel consumption and CO2 gains are minimal, limiting the point of this version unless you want to drive greenly, in which case the hefty Q7 makes an odd choice.
All versions of the Audi Q7 also now get fuel-saving alternators. Mild revisions to the grille, bumpers, tailgate, tail-lights, dashboard, rear seat and MMI infotainment system complete the revisions.
What’s it like?
Statistically the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI’s performance is unchanged in the transformation into the Q7 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel, but its cleaner engine occasionally sounds more grumbly at low revs, a deficiency heightened by the occasionally abrupt gearshift. Neither flaw spoils the impression of restful progress as much as the ride, which is jittery on bumpy roads.
More impressive is huge Audi Q7 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel’s ability to round bends with unlikely poise. Despite its gargantuan presence, the Audi Q7 remains averagely packaged, the middle seat of the middle row narrow and unyielding, its load-deck wastefully high. But it does carry seven people.
Should I buy one?
The Audi Q7 will be too large, bulky and ostentatious for some, and the Clean Diesel’s low emissions come at a price (both in terms of refinement and straightforward cash). But if you can cope with the size and want to be on the cutting edge of diesel technology, the Q7 3.0 TDI Clean Diesel is certainly worth a look.