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Turbo-diesel trio: Audi A8 TDI (above) meets XJ TDVi and S320 CDI (below).

Audi, Benz confirm diesel limos for sale Down Under as Jaguar trials an XJ TDVi

22 Jun 2006

THE rush to diesel-powered small and medium cars may be growing each week but another niche is emerging in Australia – uber limousine diesels.

Audi will be first off the rank next month with the arrival of its 243kW/650Nm 4.2-litre V8 A8 TDI, which is expected to make up 10 per cent of total A8 sales.

Early next year Mercedes-Benz will add a 173kW/540Nm 3.0-litre S-class CDI turbo-diesel to its range and Jaguar is investigating the possibility of adding a 2.7-litre twin-turbo diesel XJ TDVi sedan.

The addition of the A8 turbo-diesel will give Audi a diesel variant in every sedan and wagon model across its range.

Audi Australia spokesperson Anna Burgdorf said the tide had turned on diesels.

"For example, 42 per cent of A6 sales are diesels," she said.

Buyers were not only attracted to the fuel economy but the higher power levels and latest-generation technology, she said.

The Jaguar XJ TDVi uses the same engine as that in the just-released S-Type turbo-diesel and develops 153kW/435Nm, but being 150kg lighter because of its all-aluminium construction, the XJ TDVi hits 100km/h from rest in 7.8 seconds and has a top speed of 225km/h.

At present BMW and Audi offer diesels in their mid-range sedans and wagons but BMW Group Australia spokesperson Nadine Giusti said there were no current plans to add a 7 Series diesel to the line-up.

Jaguar Cars Australia spokesman Todd Hallenbeck said the company already had an XJ TDVi in Australia for evaluation.

7 center image"We’re under no timeframe on this we’re just initiating a study," he said. But Mr Hallenbeck said the company "should have an answer" on the car’s viability within six months.

If the XJ does arrive Jaguar may follow a similar pricing strategy to Mercedes-Benz, which has launched some of its diesel variants at the same price-point as the petrol equivalents.

A twist in the Jaguar diesel tale is that Land Rover has just released a high-performance 200kW/640Nm TDV8 diesel in its Range Rover, but Mr Hallenbeck said there were no plans to make this engine available in the XJ.

Once the Mercedes diesel offensive is complete, it will offer oil burners in the B, C, E, S, M, R and GL-classes. The V6 S320 CDi is expected to go on sale early next year, possibly in time for the Melbourne motor show in March.

However, the managing director of Mercedes-Benz Car Group Horst Von Sanden said some minor issues remained before the S320 CDI went on sale.

"There are a few issues regarding homologation, the particulate filter and the fitting of a heat shield," he said.

He expected the S-class diesel to follow a similar pricing strategy to the just-launched B180 CDI, which at $44,900 is the same price as the 2.0-litre petrol B200. This means the S320 CDI could be priced at $187,900, the same as the petrol S350 V6.

However, Mr Von Sanden said luxury car buyers would be prepared to pay a premium over the equivalent petrol-engined car "if it was small".

Luxury car buyers are the latest buyer group to be part of the rush to the latest-generation common-rail turbo-diesels with particulate filters.

"The fuel economy is one aspect," Mr Von Sanden said. "These buyers are increasingly aware of the high-end technology of these cars." Mr Von Sanden said Mercedes-Benz would not just fill gaps in the market with either engines or models, unless there was a real need.

He said the arrival of the B-class, CLS and R-class had been beneficial for the marque locally, with no substitution from other Mercedes-Benz products.

"In fact, the arrival of the B-class has inspired a broader acceptance of the A-class," he said.

The addition of the S320 CDI will bring to six the number of S-Classes available, which currently comprises the S350, S350L, S500, S500L and S600L.

The S320 CDI develops 173kW at 3800rpm and 540Nm from just 1600rpm.

The car is no slouch, being just 0.2 seconds slower than the S350 V6 from 0-100km/h. The S320 CDI takes 7.5 seconds to reach the magic metric ton.

Fuel economy is 11.6L/100km in the city and 6.4L/100km on the highway, with a combined economy of 8.3L/100km.

The newcomer has a 88-litre fuel tank, endowing the car with a touring range of more than 1200km.

Boasting a new common-rail V6 with particulate filter, the S320 CDI diesel produces fewer exhaust emissions than its predecessor, which are up to 90 per cent below those of a 1999 S-class diesel.

The rollout of Mercedes-Benz diesel variants in Europe continued last week with the arrival of the V8 turbo-diesel ML420 CDI in Europe.

The ML420 CDI develops 225kW and 700Nm (from just 2200rpm). It has a top speed of 235km/h with a combined average fuel consumption of 11.3L/100km. The engine is mated to a 7G-tronic seven-speed automatic.

Despite the expected arrival of the new 200kW/640Nm V8 turbo-diesel Range Rover here early next year, Mercedes-Benz spokeperson Amelia Doolan said there were no plans to add the ML420 CDI to the line-up.

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