I spent the last week behind the wheel of an Audi Q7 TDI Quattro Tiptronic. While it is all-wheel-drive it's not what we would consider a true 4x4 because it does not have a transfer case with a low-range. It is a heck of a sporty crossover SUV though. It has a very rigid chassis that absolutely loves to be railed in the twisties regardless of the road conditions. It sticks amazingly well even on wet roads and doesn't under or over steer easily. Inside is very comfortable but the technology (navigation, stereo, and so on) while impressive is not really any better than what you can find in a common upscale domestic brand. Surprisingly, many of the tech features are a little clunky and slow to respond. Anyway, the main reason we wanted to get behind the wheel was to get a better feel for how a 225hp, 406 lb-ft, 3.0L V-6 diesel in front of an eight-speed auto transmission would drive. We suspect these are similar numbers to what will be found in the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel that is slated to be available here in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2013. The current overseas Jeep Grand Cherokee features a V-6 diesel punching out 237 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque, and gets 28 mpg combined on the European cycle. So U.S. diesel Grand performance should be similar to the Audi.
Anyway, if you enjoy the throaty tone of a gas V-8 you will likely hate the diesel. From inside the cab it's pretty quiet, on the outside or with the windows down you recognize the familiar quiet clatter of a modern clean diesel and you'll catch just a hint of turbo whistle under load. Performance-wise the diesel doesn't hold a candle to the gas V-8. The SRT-8 Jeep Grand Cherokee will absolutely eat the Audi Q7 TDI for lunch, and for $10,000 less. But 0-60 performance usually isn't why you would purchase a modern clean diesel, fuel economy is. We were able to muster nearly 26 mpg from the Audi on the highway, even at 75-80 mph. That's something you'll never get from any of the current gas V-8s available. The V-6 diesel found in the Audi would make a great engine for long road trips. Our Audi Q7 TDI could potentially reach 600 miles per tank of fuel! And based on the Jeep Euro numbers, a U.S. version of the Grand should be similar and a great addition to the Jeep lineup.