Thursday, August 24, 2017

Audi Sets Heads Spinning with New, Confusing Powertrain Badging



Audi’s familiar 2.0, 3.0, and 4.0 designations soon will disappear as the company introduces a new naming scheme for its powertrains. Eventually, all Audi models will wear a double-digit designation ranging from 30 to 70 in increments of five, in accordance with its power output. The justification for the switch is that engine displacement matters less than it used to with the prevalence of forced induction and electrification. That’s true, but the new system will take some time to get used to.


The new 2019 Audi A8 will be the first car to introduce the numbers, which will be paired with existing TFSI, TDI, g-tron, and e-tron names that differentiate between gas engines, diesels, natural-gas powertrains, hybrids, and the like. According to Audi’s release, 30 is the lowest designation and will be used on cars producing between 109 and 129 horsepower, while 45 will mark cars with between 227 and 248 horsepower. 70 is the top number, for cars with 536 horses and up, although all Audi RS models will do without the numbers. The new A8 with a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 and all-wheel drive, for instance, will be called the A8 55 TFSI Quattro, based on its 335-hp output, forced-induction engine, and all-wheel drive.


The new scheme smacks of following Tesla’s strategy of using numbers such as 85, 90, and 100 to denote battery capacity for the Model S and Model X—a scheme the electric-car maker is abandoning for the Model 3, by the way. But where Tesla’s badges align to a very specific, single specification, Audi’s use of power ranges—and ranges that don’t end on fives and tens using either American or metric measurements—for each new badge is bound to cause confusion for some time.

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Audi won’t officially confirm that these names will reach the U.S. market, but the German home office indicates a worldwide rollout. Audi says the new nomenclature will be applied to additional models in summer 2018 during the 2019 model-year changeover. While we don’t yet know how much of this applies to us Americans, the A8 launches on our shores next spring, so we’ll see soon enough.


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