Just as it followed the VW Touareg and Porsche Cayenne into the marketplace, the Audi Q7 now will be following their lead on engine downsizing. While its recently updated exterior remains unchanged, the 2011 Q7 loses both of its current gasoline engines, the 280-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 and the 350-hp, 4.2-liter V-8. They get replaced by two variations of the supercharged TFSI 3.0-liter V-6 found in the A6, S4, and S5.

In the Q7, the entry-level 3.0 TFSI makes 272 hp and produces 295 lb-ft of torque—down eight horses but up 29 lb-ft from the 3.6-liter’s 266. The stronger Q7’s 3.0 makes 333 hp and produces 325 lb-ft of torque, a 17-hp deficit compared to the outgoing V-8 but matching it in the torque column. Top speed with the new engines is 140 and 152 mph, respectively.

While we don’t have U.S. fuel-economy figures yet, Q7’s mileage will improve markedly. In Europe, the entry-level model improves by 12 percent, and the stronger motor tops the V-8 by 16 percent. That’s partly thanks to the new engines and partly thanks to the eight-speed automatic that replaces the current six-speed box across the board.

Clean-Diesel Madness

The 3.0-liter TDI turbo-diesel is back and also will benefit from the eight-speed transmission. While it will be the U.S.’s only diesel option, Europeans who find its 225 hp and 406 lb-ft inadequate will still be able to choose the 340-hp, 4.2 V-8 TDI and the absolutely insane 500-hp, 6.0-liter V-12 TDI, which punishes its four wheels with 738 lb-ft of pulverizing twist.

The Q7’s new engines will be available here by mid-2010 for the 2011 model year. If you must have a V-8, now is the time to try getting a deal on one. But if it’s efficiency you’re looking for, our experience in other cars suggests the supercharged engines will be well worth the wait.

If customers clamor sufficiently, more options could materialize. The Q7’s engine compartment would hold the full gas-electric system of the Cayenne and Touareg hybrids, which use an Audi TFSI engine anyway. And an upcoming, 400-hp-plus turbocharged 4.0-liter V-8 would fit beautifully. Wait some more, perhaps?

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