Automakers respond to my pleas, roll out lots of diesel goodness at LA Auto Show [UPDATE]

Just last week I wrote my plea for more diesel cars here in North America. If you haven’t read it, to make a long story short, diesel is awesome and we don’t have enough in North America. But it seems the automakers have been listening! The 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show has barely kicked off, and already there are three manufacturers planning to bring new diesel cars to this side of the pond. Let’s have a look at them.

UPDATE: We have official confirmation of the Mazda6 diesel, scroll down to the original information for more details.

Audi has always been very keen on their diesel technology, having absolutely dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans with it for years. Before today, they had two diesels in their North American lineup. And their parent company, Volkswagen, is probably the biggest diesel player in North America. But now they’re joining in on the fun and adding another four diesel models to the lineup: the A8, A7, A6 and Q5.

All four models will be powered by the same 3.0L TDI V6, developing 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque, very respectable figures. But despite the power, these are diesels, and the A8 TDI will be capable of 36 mpg on the highway and 24 mpg in the city, despite being a sizable car. The Audi Q7, already offered in diesel, will be updated to this engine as well, managing 19 mpg in the city and 28 on the highway. Fuel economy figures have not yet been released for the other cars, but seeing as they’re all smaller and lighter than the A8, they should be very good.

It should also be mentioned that Volkswagen themselves have brought a new diesel to LA – the Beetle Convertible. The car itself is a world debut, but it will be offered in North America with the same 140-horsepower 2.0L unit found in the hardtop variant. This will allow it to achieve 32 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway when equipped with a manual gearbox (figures for the dual-clutch unit have not yet been released). Perhaps the car doesn’t suit my taste, but hey, it’s a diesel!

But the most interesting diesel debut ought to be the (currently unofficial) Mazda6 diesel. The new Mazda6 is just about the sexiest car in the segment, hands down. And with Mazda’s reputation for excellent handling, this makes it one hell of a car to look forward to. Mazda, however, has another trick up their sleeves: the 2.2L SKYACTIV-D diesel engine. Although they haven’t made an official announcement yet, an information card for the car has been spotted on the floor of the show, along with the engine itself. The motor develops 173 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque, which should be plenty to propel the sedan. I’ll keep you posted on any official announcements.

(UPDATE: Mazda today confirmed that the Mazda6 will be launching with the 2.2L SKYACTIV-D engine during the second half of 2013, while its gasoline counterpart will go on sale in the first part of the year. Power and fuel economy figures have not been confirmed however, but there is some good news while we wait: the car will be available with a manual transmission. I have added the Mazda press release to the end of this post.)

If you’re genuinely interested in purchasing any of these, I’m afraid that pricing hasn’t yet been made available – but I can tell you that here in Canada, the current Audi Q7 TDI commands $63,200 and the Beetle TDI hardtop will set you back $24,175. If you live in the US, consider yourself fortunate – you can almost certainly expect lower pricing, as seen with the Q7 TDI MSRP of just $52,000.

Press Release (Audi)

Audi to introduce four new TDI® clean diesel models to the U.S. Market at the L.A. Auto Show

– The Audi A8 TDI clean diesel achieves manufacturer estimated fuel efficiency of 24 city/ 36 highway
– New 3.0 liter V6 TDI clean diesel models will include the Audi A8, A7, A6, Q5 and an updated Q7 TDI
– Audi to use #FuelForThought at the LA Auto Show to create a social media experience at the display and online

Audi of America announces the arrival of the new TDI® clean diesel models for the Audi A8, A7, A6 and Q5 to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show. The addition of these four models marks the first time Audi will feature a full lineup of TDI clean diesel vehicles in the U.S. as they join the updated Q7 model. Each TDI vehicle delivers up to 30% better fuel economy and 30% lower carbon dioxide emissions than gasoline engines*, resulting in longer range and fewer trips to the fuel pump. By having more density than gasoline, diesel packs more energy content in the same amount of fuel, which helps maximize the miles per gallon when that energy is released during a more powerful combustion cycle.

The TDI clean diesel engine lineup adds to Audi’s list of advanced technologies that help enhance fuel efficiency, including Audi ultra® lightweight technology, such as the use of aluminum, and the AFS® frame technology.

“Owners of Audi TDI engines have helped save over 4 million gallons of gasoline, or the equivalent of more than 240,000 barrels of foreign oil, since the introduction of Audi TDI to the U.S. in 2009**,” said Scott Keogh, President, Audi of America. ” And, TDI technology delivers better fuel efficiency without sacrificing performance.”

In order to fuel the conversation surrounding the benefits of TDI technology in the U.S., Audi will use the hashtag, #FuelForThought and invite fans to join the conversation through a social experience at the display and online.

Audi A8 TDI
The flagship of the Audi brand, the A8 TDI, makes a powerful statement in achieving a manufacturer estimated fuel efficiency of 24 MPG in the city and 36 MPG on the highway*. The A8 TDI clean diesel executive sedan embodies superior design and progressive advancements which sets new standards for luxury sedans in terms of uncompromising efficiency and performance. The new 2014 A8 sedans dramatically expand the flagship’s engine offerings by moving from two variants (4.2 liter V8 and W12) to five, including: the entry level A8 3.0T V6; the 420 horsepower A8 4.0T V8; the new Audi S8 4.0T V8; the A8 6.0 liter W12; and the new A8 3.0 TDI V6. The new 3.0 liter TDI clean diesel engine generates an astonishing 240 horsepower with 406 lb.-ft. of torque and seamlessly goes 0-60 in 6.4 seconds.

Audi A7 TDI

The Audi A7 TDI clean diesel is the pinnacle of design and is now more fuel efficient than ever. Without compromising design or performance, every detail of the A7 TDI delivers a striking visual statement. The A7 was the first car in the world to feature available factory-installed Wi-Fi (for up to 8 passenger devices) with Audi connect™ and MMI® navigation plus with 3D Google Earth™ maps. From the groundbreaking available MMI touch and its gracefully integrated display screen, to the state-of-the-art head-up display, the Audi A7 TDI is the perfect marriage of progressive design, efficiency and versatile space.

Audi A6 TDI
One of Audi’s most innovative and technologically advanced models to date, the A6 TDI performance sedan sacrifices virtually nothing in performance, comfort or design. As with the successful A6 TFSI® gas engines, the A6 TDI clean diesel engine can make up to 2,000 decisions per second. Available driver assistance systems include night vision assistant, head-up display and Audi pre sense plus that helps detect imminent collisions and initiates protective measures when needed. Other available intelligent features include head-up display and the MMI touch that recognizes handwriting, along with the available Audi connect – the first factory-installed wireless internet connection that enables Google Earth maps, Google Local Search, and a WiFi hotspot for up to eight passenger devices.

Audi Q5 TDI
The Audi Q5 has proven itself an absolute success as one of the best-selling models in the Audi lineup. For the 2014 model year, the Q5 will receive the new TDI engine which will allow for better fuel economy along with increased torque. The Audi Q5 TDI combines the driving appeal of a sedan with high versatility of its interior space and many practical solutions for recreation and everyday driving. Audi has further sharpened the profile of its performance SUV in its design, technological advancements, driver assistance systems and fuel efficiencies. The new TDI clean diesel engine marks the fourth engine variant for the Audi Q5 model lineup, adding to the current four-cylinder 2.0T, the 3.0T V6, and the Q5 hybrid.

Audi Q7 TDI 

The Audi Q7 continues to establish the standard in progressive design, sophisticated technology and fuel efficiency in premium sport utility vehicles. The benefits of TDI clean diesel technology are further enhanced through the revised V6 TDI engine that offers a 10 percent efficiency improvement compared to gasoline engines. The revised TDI clean diesel engine has an increased output of 240 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque that helps improve performance and offers impressive fuel economy with an EPA estimated 19 city/ 28 highway miles per gallon*. The incredibly efficient TDI clean diesel engine enables the Q7 TDI to achieve a range in excess of 700 miles per tank***.

2014 MY        Availability
A8 TDI           Spring 2013
A7 TDI           Fall 2013
A6 TDI           Fall 2013
Q5 TDI           Fall 2013

Pricing for all 2014 MY vehicles to be announced at a later date

2013 MY      Availability                         Starting MSRP
Q7 TDI         Since September 2012      $52,000

* EPA estimates. Mileage will vary.
** Based on total A3 TDI and Q7 TDI vehicles sold, average nationwide gasoline fuel prices, and EPA estimated annual average miles driven.
*** Range based on 28-mpg highway EPA estimates and a 26.4-gallon fuel-tank. Mileage will vary.

Where stated, fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. All other fuel economy values are forecast manufacturer values for the USA; those EPA estimates were not available at time of release. Audi Connect and SiriusXM Traffic services may require additional subscriptions. MSRPs exclude taxes, title, transportation, options and dealer charges.

Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. Audi was a top-performing brand in Europe during 2011, and broke all-time company sales records in the U.S. AUDI AG is planning to invest a total of EUR 13 billion over the period 2012 through 2016 on new products and technologies. Visit for more information regarding Audi vehicle and business issues.

Press Release (Volkswagen)

World premiere in Los Angeles:
The new Beetle Cabriolet – more powerful, confident and fuel-efficient

Agile: new Volkswagen convertible comprehensively engineered for sportiness

Open: standard power soft top is fully stowed in 9.5 seconds (up to 50 km/h)

Wolfsburg / Los Angeles, 28 November 2012 – In a world premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Volkswagen is presenting the new Beetle Cabriolet. After the original Beetle Cabriolet and New Beetle Cabriolet, this is the third generation of an automobile that enjoys cult status nearly everywhere in the world. The new Beetle Cabriolet is now larger. Plus it’s more powerful, sporty and also more fuel-efficient. The visual impression is of a car that is longer, wider and has a lower roofline, making its proportions look more dynamic. Aside from its performance data and fuel economy figures, the most important value of a cabriolet is the time it takes to stow the soft top. In the Beetle Cabriolet, this is accomplished in just 9.5 seconds thanks to a standard electro-hydraulic drive. It can even be opened while driving  up to a speed of 31 mph (50 km/h). When stowed, the roof folds together compactly behind the rear seats, optimising the view to the rear. The fabric soft top of the Beetle Cabriolet can be raised in 11.0 seconds; the extra 1.5 seconds is accounted for by the amount of time the electro-hydraulic drive takes to latch the roof automatically to the windscreen frame.

Icons. The new Beetle Cabriolet demonstrates the great potential of what is certainly the most familiar design in automotive history – the design of the Beetle. As a convertible, it became one of the world’s first automobiles to break free of class boundaries back in the middle of the last century; 331,847 units were built over a period of 32 years. The Beetle design experienced a renaissance with the New Beetle. That open-top version was the “Flower power convertible of a new era”; in eight years a substantial 234,619 New Beetle Cabriolet cars were built. The secret of its success: the New Beetle Cabriolet was not simply a copy of the original Beetle Cabriolet – instead, designers re-interpreted the forms of the car body and further developed them.

And that is how the team led by Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design for the Volkswagen Brand, approached the design of the new Beetle Cabriolet. Bischoff: “Retro is not our thing; we are always looking forward. The Beetle Cabriolet was designed to have a more powerful and masculine stance on the road. And we have achieved this goal.”

Dimensions. At 4,278 mm, the new cabriolet is 152 mm longer than the New Beetle. The car also grew 84 mm in width (1,808 mm, without door mirrors). Since the convertible was simultaneously made 29 mm lower, to a height of 1,473 mm, the Beetle shows considerably more dynamism and road presence – simply because of these proportions. The gain in length benefits interior space and boot capacity. And even when the soft top is down, it hardly limits cargo space; when compared to the New Beetle, its cargo capacity was increased by 24 litres to 225 litres. Unlike in the New Beetle Cabriolet, the rear bench seat can now be folded down, thanks to a newly developed rollover protection system. The standard rollover protection system pops up from behind the rear head restraints within milliseconds when a predefined lateral acceleration or vehicle tilt value is exceeded.

Spacious feeling. The new dimensions along with the windscreen frame that has been shifted significantly towards the rear  thereby modifying the roof contour – give the two rear passengers greater headroom – 12 mm more to be exact. The Beetle Cabriolet gives the driver and front passenger an entirely new feeling of space as well. As in the hard top version, the convertible’s completely remastered ergonomics create an interior that matches the dynamism of the exterior. In the new cabriolet – as in the New Beetle Cabriolet and original Beetle Cabriolet – “open” really means “open”, and there is no long windscreen to stand in the way of a pure cabriolet feeling.

US versions. In the USA, the new Beetle Cabriolet is available with a 103 kW TDI (140 PS) and a 147 kW TSI (200 PS), which are also offered in Europe, as well as a 125 kW five-cylinder engine (MPI) that was specially developed for the American market. The latter is offered with a 6-speed torque-converter automatic; a Volkswagen 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox (DSG) is available as an option for the TSI and TDI.

Extremely efficient (EPA fuel economy). In the USA, as elsewhere in the world, the efficiency of engines continues to play an increasingly important role. In light of this, as a TDI (0–60 mph in 9.2 s) the Beetle will be positioned as one of the most fuel-efficient convertibles on the US market with fuel economy values of 32 mpg (combined) and 41 mpg (Highway). Fuel economy values for the DSG version have not yet been determined. The 147 kW TSI (0–60 mph in 6.9 s), with a manual gearbox, attains 24 mpg (combined) and 30 mpg (Highway); with DSG the combined fuel economy value is nearly identical (24 and 29 mpg), which speaks volumes for the efficiency of the dual-clutch gearbox. The 125 kW engine with its 6-speed au-tomatic also attains a good 23 mpg (27 mpg Highway).

European versions. In Europe, Volkswagen will offer the Cabriolet exclusively with direct-injection four-cylinder turbo engines. The three TSI (petrol) engines produce 77 kW / 105 PS, 118 kW / 160 PS and 147 kW / 200 PS, while the two TDI (diesel) engines develop 77 kW / 105 PS and 103 kW / 140 PS. Either of these engines may be paired with an optional Volkswagen-developed dual-clutch gearbox (6- or 7-speed DSG) – a first in this class, and not just at Volkswagen. In Europe, the two engines that are also offered in the USA attain fuel consumption values of 5.1 l/100 km (140 PS TDI, manual gearbox), 7.6 l/100 (200 PS TSI with manual gearbox) and 7.9 l/100 (200 PS TSI with DSG).

Impressive features. Whether in America or Europe – standard equipment always includes the ESP electronic stabilisation pro-gramme including brake assist and hill hold feature, a network of airbags including side curtain airbags and automatically actuating rollover protection. Optional features that are being offered in a Beetle Cabriolet for the first time include bi-xenon headlights, a keyless engine starting and locking system (Keyless Access), ambience lighting, Fender sound system (400 Watts), automatic climate control, radio-navigation system with touchscreen and hard drive, auxiliary instruments on the instrument panel (chronometer, oil temperature, charge pressure) and alloy wheels in 18- and 19-inch formats.

Customisation. Similar to the hard-top Beetle with its steel or panoramic sunroof, the Cabriolet will also be available in three equipment versions (USA: “2.5 L”, “Turbo”, “TDI”; Europe: “Beetle”, “Design”, “Sport”). In addition, Volkswagen has conceptualised three special edition models for the open-top Beetle at its market launch: the stylish “50s Edition”, the cool “60s Edition” and the elegant “70s Edition.” Each of the three editions reflects the style of a decade – in tribute to the legendary Beetle Cabriolet. The “50s Edition”, for example, offers such features as 17-inch “Circle Black” alloy wheels, chrome door mirrors, a black soft top and “Monochrome Black” paint. The “60s Edition” model was inspired by the style of the 1960s with high-end sport seats in black-blue “Vienna” leather and either “Denim Blue” or “Candy White” body colour in combination with a black soft top,. The “70s Edition” aims for elegance – with “Toffee Brown Metallic” or “Platinum Grey Metallic” exterior colours that harmonise well with the beige-coloured soft top and leather sport seats. The new Beetle Convertible launches on the USA market at the end of November 2012; in Europe, the Volkswagen launches in February 2013.

Press Release (Mazda)

All-New 2014 Mazda6 Sedan, SKYACTIV-D Clean Diesel Engine Make North American Debut in Los Angeles
Redesigned Intermediate Sedan is First Mazda to Offer Diesel Engine in North America
Mazda Canada Inc.
Nov 29, 2012

LOS ANGELES (November 29, 2012) – The wait is over: Mazda’s SKYACTIV-D 2.2-litre clean diesel engine has arrived, hand-in-hand with the all-new 2014 Mazda6, the latest – and sexiest – beauty to emerge from the brand’s KODO design-inspired lineup.  Making its North American debut today at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the highly-anticipated mid-size sedan will go on sale in January 2013 and be equipped first with a SKYACTIV-G 2.5-litre gasoline engine.  The SKYACTIV-D-equipped version will follow suit in the second half of the year, making Mazda the first Asian manufacturer to offer a modern-technology clean-diesel engine in a non-commercial vehicle. The 2014 Mazda6 also will be the first production vehicle to feature Mazda’s capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system called i-ELOOP.

“We’ve talked about it long enough, and now we are incredibly excited to officially introduce North America to our latest next-generation product, the 2014 Mazda6,” said Kory Koreeda, president, Mazda Canada. “The Mazda6 is a showcase of our latest engineering accomplishments under our SKYACTIV Technology umbrella, with the SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine, i-ELOOP, and our new suite of i-ACTIVSENSE safety technology. And we’re just getting started.”

Strongly influenced by the TAKERI Concept, the Mazda6 makes no excuses for its style, safety, and spirit – qualities usually absent in a mid-size sedan.  The KODO “Soul of Motion” design language commands and creates every facet of the vehicle’s handsome sheet metal; from its alluringly-swept elongated hood and cab-forward proportions to the chiseled steel shaping its frame, the Mazda6 suggests power and elegance before the gas pedal is even pressed to go.

The new Mazda6 will be available with a choice of SKYACTIV transmissions in either the SKYACTIV-Drive six-speed automatic or SKYACTIV-MT six-speed manual. Nestled under its expansive hood lies a choice between the 13:1 high-compression ratio SKYACTIV-G 2.5-litre gasoline engine or the new SKYACTIV-D 2.2-litre clean diesel engine, which offers an impressively low compression ratio of 14:1.  The SKYACTIV-G 2.5L is estimated to produce 184 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 185 lb-ft of torque at 3,250 rpm.  Performance estimates for the SKYACTIV-D clean diesel engine are not yet available.

Expected to offer a high amount of torque as well as cleaner combustion, the SKYACTIV-D 2.2L is 10 percent lighter than the current MZR 2.2-litre diesel engine sold in other global markets.  Other improvements include internal engine friction reduced by 20 percent and fuel economy increases by up to 20 percent.  This is achieved by using a new two-stage turbocharger, which delivers a smooth and steady response across the engine range (up to 5,200 rpm).  Also, with the ultra-low compression ratio, the SKYACTIV-D diesel engine burns cleaner and discharges fewer nitrogen oxides to produce virtually no soot, thus requiring no additional NOxaftertreatments, which is typical of conventional diesel engines.

Final specifications for all 2014 Mazda6 models will be available closer to the on-sale date.

Standard features, optional packages, and pricing also will be released at a later date but consumers can anticipate Mazda’s current slew of performance-inspired, design-engineered amenities, such as aggressively styled large-size alloy wheels, expressive LED lights, supportively bolstered seats and high quality interior materials as well as premium technology offerings in a TomTom-based in-dash navigation system, Bose premium audio, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, audio menu voice command capability, to name a few.

An all-new safety component called Smart City Brake Support (SCBS) will be offered and is designed to assist a driver in avoiding front collisions when traveling at speeds of less than 30 kilometres per hour.  An embedded laser sensor detects an obtrusive object and will reduce the brake rotor travel to quicken braking should the system calculate that there is a risk of a collision occurring.  If the driver fails to perform an avoidance maneuver, the SCBS system will activate an automatic braking function.

Derived from “Intelligent Energy Loop,” i-ELOOP, Mazda’s in-house developed brake energy regeneration system, is all new and makes its first production vehicle appearance in the 2014 Mazda6 after first being introduced globally on the TAKERI Concept.  As part of a growing number of fuel-saving technologies, brake energy regeneration systems use an electric motor or alternator to generate electricity as the vehicle decelerates, thereby recovering a portion of the vehicle’s kinetic energy to power electrical components, such as air conditioning and audio features.  Such systems used in hybrid vehicles typically require a bulky electric motor and a heavy dedicated battery.

i-ELOOP is the world’s first capacitor-based brake energy regeneration system to provide power to all the electrical mechanisms in a vehicle.  Other capacitor-based systems have been used to provide electricity to a single vehicle component or motor.  Compared to systems utilized in hybrid vehicles, i-ELOOP avoids the need for a dedicated electrical motor and battery, making the system more efficient, compact, and lighter than traditional systems.  Also, capacitors have the ability to charge and discharge rapidly as well and are resistant to deterioration despite prolonged use. In real-world driving conditions which can require frequent acceleration and braking,

i-ELOOP is expected to improve overall fuel economy but is dependent on road conditions and driving habits.

Source: Audi, Volkswagen, Autoblog, Mazda

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