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Audi SQ7 TDI packs first-ever electric turbocharger

This new piece of engine tech promises to kill off turbo lag and increase efficiency while providing a properly quick ride.

2017 Audi SQ7 TDI
Also coming along for the ride is four-wheel steering, optional carbon-ceramic brakes, a sport differential, electronically-controlled sway bars and electric power steering.

Turbochargers can increase efficiency and power, but there's a downside -- turbo lag. Turbos require exhaust gas to spin a turbine and compress air entering the engine, which takes time to happen. But Audi thinks it's devised a fix for that problem, and it's rolling this new tech out on a hopped-up version of its largest SUV.

Audi's new electric compressor rests between the air intercooler and the engine, relying on a separate 48-volt, lithium ion battery. Before the exhaust gas has a chance to spool up the turbochargers, the electric compressor kicks in, ensuring there's nearly no downtime between pushing the pedal and being pushed back in your seat. Audi estimates the SQ7's fuel economy as 31.8 mpg on Europe's NEDC efficiency cycle, which typically produces figures a bit higher than US-spec EPA measurements.

Trick tech aside, the SQ7 is an impressively powerful three-row crossover. All in, its powertrain spits out 435 horsepower and a pavement-twisting 664 pound-feet of torque, which is set to all four wheels by way of an eight-speed automatic. It comes toting all of Audi's latest and greatest updates, like four-wheel steering, electronically controlled sway bars and even optional carbon-ceramic brakes.

Of course, it wouldn't be a hopped-up Audi without bulkier-looking fenders, bigger exhaust pipes and wheels, and so much S badging that you'd think Audi never learned the full alphabet. For the time being, this beast is limited to the European market, but Audi believes that its attempt to exude both power and efficiency without sacrificing much of either would be a hit in the US, as well.

But it sure won't be cheap -- its starting price across the pond is €89,900, which converts to about $99,000.