An Audi RS5 TDI Concept set the fastest lap ever recorded by a diesel powered car at Germany’s Sachsenring race track. The RS5 TDI Concept was introduced last year when Audi substituted a 3.0 liter twin turbo V6 diesel engine for the 4.2 liter V8 normally found in the RS5. The TDI version features one significant innovation, such as an electric turbocharger that works in conjunction with the two turbos.
The supercharger spins up to its 120,000 rpm operating speed in just 0.4 seconds, providing instant boost at low engine speeds. Once the turbos kick in, the electric supercharger shuts down. Audi has been working on the TDI concept for a year and has now coaxed 435 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque out of the engine. Engineers have also cut the vehicle’s weight by an impressive 531 pounds, which greatly aids its performance.
Meanwhile, an Audi A6 TDI Ultra set out from Maastricht in the Netherlands and drove 1,158.9 miles on a single tank of diesel fuel. The drivers, automotive journalist Andrew Frankel and racing driver Rebecca Jackson, passed through 14 countries along the way and averaged 75.9 miles. The car’s advertised fuel economy is only 67 mpg. The journey qualified for a Guiness world record for a showroom stock vehicle. Along the way, the pair visited Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Holland and Hungary.
Audi has long been the champion of diesel powered cars, but it’s hard to see what the future of oil burners will be. Just when auto engineers have made them quiet, powerful and fun to drive, environmental regulations look poised to eliminate diesels from the mix of available automotive powertrains. France has raised the price of diesel fuel to discourage people from hanging on to their old diesels or buying new ones. In the US, diesel is now selling for a dollar a gallon more than gasoline, wiping out any fuel economy advantage diesels may have.
In all likelihood, the age of diesel powered passenger cars is rapidly drawing to a close. Only a switch to bio-diesel can save them.