Audi TDI Ultra rangeEnlarge Photo
Last year Audi coined the term 'ultra' for the most efficient variant of its A3 compact car. It even dropped the sticker on its race-winning Le Mans R18 e-tron quattro, perhaps the perfect way of promoting its fuel-efficient tech. Now, Audi has announced a whole range of ultra models.
Predictably, none of the diesel-engined machines have been confirmed for sale in the U.S, but European buyers will get to enjoy the new A4, A5 and A6 ultras and their exceptional efficiency figures. The cars get a new 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel engine in 120-, 163- and 190-horsepower outputs depending on the model, the strongest of which also produces 295 pound-feet of torque--so performance shouldn't take a back seat to efficiency.
A manual transmission is standard on all variants to maximize fuel efficiency, while the gearbox itself also features higher gear ratios in the upper gears for low-revs high speed cruising. A seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch is optional on the A6 which further improves fuel efficiency. Reworked internals have led to reduced internal friction, and a centrifugal pendulum-type absorber counteracts the engine's vibration at low engine speeds, improving refinement where the engine is more efficient. Here too, gears are longer to reduce consumption at speed. Start-stop, a reduced ride height, aerodynamic tweaks and a driver information system get even more from the efficient powertrains.
The net result is economy as high as 60.3 mpg in the 120-horsepower Audi A4 ultra, 56 mpg in the most efficient A5 ultra and up to 53.4 mpg in the A6 ultra with the S tronic transmission. The 0-62 mph acceleration ranges from 9.3 seconds for the base A4 to 8.2 for the most powerful A6, and the latter also hits 144 mph given a long enough road. Sedan and Avant wagon bodystyles are available on the A4 and A6, while the A5 ultra is available in both coupe and Sportback formats.
For Audi's customers, the benefit is improved efficiency without compromising driving dynamics. According to Audi's Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, "customers will hardly see anything, but they’ll notice the effects of powerful acceleration and, thanks to extremely low fuel consumption, when paying at the gas station". All models go on sale--in Europe only, remember--in the first quarter of 2014. If Audi would like to send any ultra models over to the U.S. though, it could do a lot worse than an ultra version of the next-generation TT--as potentially previewed in last year's lightweight Wörthersee concept.