Given the less than stellar public perception of diesel right now, it does seem a little odd that VW Group of all companies has a bunch of V8 oil burners in its current line-up. Perhaps that’s why a couple of them have just been ditched - the Audi SQ7 and SQ8 no longer use 4.0-litre TDI lump, with each adopting a petrol engine of the same displacement and cylinder count.
The new unit is a detuned version of the twin-turbo V8 used in the RS Q8 along with multiple other models across the Audi and Porsche ranges. It’s inevitably less torquey than the diesel it replaces, producing 567.9lb ft (thanks for being specific, Audi) rather than 664lb ft, but power has increased significantly.
Both cars produce 500bhp, up from 429. Eight-tenths have been slashed from the 0-62mph time, which is now just 4.1 seconds. Sounds like a big reduction for the power increase, but - although no figures are mentioned - the SQ7 and SQ8 should now be lighter than before. The petrol V8 won’t be anywhere near as heavy as the diesel it replaces, helping both straight-line performance and agility in the corners.
Further aiding the SQ7 and SQ8 dynamically, both receive - as before - S-specific air suspension. Rear-wheel steering - which used to be fitted only to the Vorsprung-trimmed cars - is now standard across the board. Electronic roll stabilisation and the sport differential remain reserved for the SQ8 Vorsprung.
You’ll struggle to achieve the economy figures of the old one, but there are a few measures to mitigate the wallet-destroying nature of a petrol V8 SUV. The first of these is a cylinder-on-demand system, which switches off four cylinders under low to medium load. The twin-scroll turbochargers also cut down back-pressure and “optimise gas exchange for improved filling of the combustion chambers,” Audi says.
With legislation making engines quieter than ever before, even a V8 needs a little help in the noise department. In the exhaust systems of the SQ7 and SQ8, you’ll find a pair of ‘actuators’ - the functionality of which is dictated by the drive mode you’re in.
The petrol-powered SQ7 and SQ8 will be available in the UK this autumn, priced at around £78,000 and £83,000 respectively.