Audi's Mileage Marathon

Audi announced a 4,800-mile American driving tour, known as the Audi Mileage Marathon, yesterday in an effort to promote the arrival of the carmaker’s TDI (turbocharged direct injection) clean-diesel technology in the US. This advanced powertrain, which will be in direct competition with Mercedes Benz’s Bluetec system, will be introduced early next year in the 2009 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI. The purpose of the cross-country journey is to showcase Audi’s ability to combine superior performance, vehicle dynamics, and high fuel efficiency.

With the cost of diesel fuel running $0.40 to $0.50 higher than regular gasoline, it’s uncertain if American consumers will adopt clean diesel technology—even if diesel’s stigma as dirty and loud can be shed.

The Audi event, from October 5 to October 20, will involve 184 international journalists in 23 TDI-equipped automobiles driving from New York To Los Angeles. The tour is designed to take these vehicles through a broad range of driving conditions, from interstates to two-lane roads, suburban traffic to city streets. “Think of it as the ultimate efficiency test,” said Marcel Barro, an automotive journalist and Marathon participant. He told, “It’s the most balanced measure of mileage I’ve ever heard of.” The Marathon will pass through a number of major cities, including Chicago, Dallas and Las Vegas, as well as famous points of interest, including the Badlands National Park, the Grand Canyon and Death Valley, Calif.

Aside from the US-bound Q7 TDI, the Marathon will involve three other Euro-spec TDI vehicles including the A4 sedan, the Q5 crossover, and the A3 three-door hatchback.

The new TDI powertrain, to be launched in the US and Europe in 2009, is an ultra low emission system that reduces oxides of nitrogen by up to 90 percent. This is possible because the system uses a fuel injector that sprays atomized fuel directly into the main combustion chamber of each cylinder, rather than the pre-combustion chamber found in older diesels. Audi’s TDIs will be compliant with California’s Tier 2, Bin 5 emission standard. It also already exceeds the requirements of the stringent Euro 6 standards that have been set for 2014.

Audi is obviously intending to promote its new lineup of diesel vehicles—however, the mileage event is likely to raise awareness of all players in the clean diesel market, most notably Mercedes and Volkswagen.

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  • Dom

    Sweet!!! It’s good to see the diesel players battling the old wives tales about how horrible diesels are. The best way to do that is to put the naysayers in a modern diesel and watch the disbelief on their faces…
    I hear there is a good chance we will also see the A3 TDI here in the US as well.

  • Samie

    What I see from a quick Google search is the 2009 Audi Q7 3.0 TDI will only get 25 mpg in combined city and highway. Sorry not to share the excitement on this one. Try Again.

    Too bad Ford couldn’t get the what 65mpg diesel car to meet US standards.

  • Shines

    The Q7 is an SUV
    The Saturn Vue Hybrid combined is 28
    The Tahoe Hybrid gets 21
    The Q7 is between the 2 size wise and gets 25
    That’s not bad for a non-hybrid.
    Still Diesel is 50 cents a gal more than regular and I doubt the Audi will be cheaper than either of the others.
    Still a big luxury suv that gets 25 mpg combined is better than a bug luxury suv that gets 20 mpg…

  • Anonymous

    I won’t hesitate to buy a diesel wagon if no car maker offers a hybrid wagon within the next few years. I don’t drive in city traffic so the city mpg is irrelevant to me. Plus I may be able to find some biodiesel blends.

  • Dom

    Shines is right. You can’t expect ANY vehicle the size of the Q7 to get stellar mpg, diesel, hybrid, or whatever. But it’s a significant improvement.
    Now, if they bring the A3, it’d probably get at least 40-45mpg, similar to what the new Jetta TDI is rated at (which by early indications is is looking to be rather conservative).

    Hey anonymous – you want a diesel wagon that gets 45mpg?? Check out the new Jetta Sportswagon TDI!!
    If you don’t like that, rumor has it that Subaru may bring their new diesel engine to the US next year or so.

  • Samie

    Where is the Ford Hybrid Escape in the arguments? (In terms of weight and size) The 2009 model gets 34/31 mpg. Also you can add at least 1 extra gallon to any vehicle that uses gasoline over diesel due to paying additional 50cents per gallon over say 10-14 gallon tank. Why this is boring is due to the additional costs with this or BMW’s advanced powertrain clean diesel technology added to fuel costs, bland mpg ratings and not looking for something that would offer a V6 that gets the same or better gas mileage then the diesel Q7. Love diesel for small cars (Jetta) and trucks but not in these showboat luxury vehicles.

  • CSX321

    Strange… Two of these Mileage Marathon Audis are driving around here, a small town in rural Southern Illinois, right now. I wonder why they’re here, now?

  • kurtdaniel

    this is a good news!!!diesel has still some good on its own!!!!!