Yesterday, I got up bright and early to hop on a plane to Denver, Colorado. Jody Devere from www.askpatty.com asked me if I would like to represent Ask Patty and participate in the Audi Mileage Marathon by driving a new Audi A4 TDI Clean Diesel from Denver to Las Vegas. Of course I said YES!
The Audi Mileage Marathon started on Oct. 6th. A fleet of 23 diesel-powered Audis rolled out of NYC and started heading west. The first wave was from New York CIty to Chicago. The second wave was from Chicago to Denver. I'm on the 3rd wave: Denver to Las Vegas. The last wave will be from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.
This mileage marathon is a way for Audi to introduce the United States to their new clean diesel technology. Most Americans have a preconceived notion that diesel fuel goes into trucks and is very smelly, dirty and it makes the vehicle hard to start.
Clean diesel is all the rage in Europe, and I am psyched to get my hands on the wheel of the Audi A4. It's a 3.0 liter, turbo-diesel V-6. Otherwise known as a high-performance touring sedan.
The Audi Mileage Marathon fleet also consists of the Audi Q7 SUV, the Audi Q5, and the Audi A3: a 2.0-liter four-cylinder sportsback. I will try to get some drivers to switch cars with me so I can check them all out, but there seems to be a little competition going on with the various teams trying to get the best mileage possible in their group.
Getting the best gas mileage means going under the speed limit. Put me in an turbocharged Audi and ask me to go slow? This is a bit counter-intuitive... but I will try and control myself and follow the game rules and try to get the best mileage possible.
Upon my arrival in Denver today, I discovered that Audi has welcomed the 43 journalist / photographers / drivers with open arms. We were given some styling clothes for the road trip, good food, and a lot of information about the benefits of Clean Diesel Technology of TDI. These diesels meet emissions regulations in every state of the United States, while also promising great driving performance and fuel economy.
I was able to corner a couple of drivers from wave two to learn their secrets of getting good fuel mileage without having to drive like my grandmother. I was told three secrets:
1) Put the vehicle into dynamic range first thing every time the vehicle is turned on.
2) Drive in Manual Mode and bump the steering wheel-mounted shifter paddles to get it into high range ASAP.
3) When driving downhill, take your foot off the gas pedal and coast. Do not put it into neutral because the car will keep sipping on the fuel, and do not keep a slight pressure on the gas pedal because it will also keep sipping gas.
This is a serious test. The cars are only fueled up once per day at a specific Shell Station, and then the fuel doors are sealed so we can't add any ourselves. The vehicles also have an on board data to gather information. These guys are not fooling around!
Denver is cloudy, rainy, and cold enough that the rain now falling is rumored to be snow by tomorrow. Will be interesting to see how this vehicle handles in the cold and on snowy mountain roads. The car should not be a problem, the Audi A4 3.0 TDi quattro is all-wheel-drive vehicle, though it remains to be seen how the tires will handle. (They have outfitted the A4s with Michelin Primacy HP tires.)
Onward Ho and away I go! Watch for updates from the road!
All My Best,
Amy Mattinat is a female friendly expert advisor on the board of AskPatty.com. Her career in the automotive industry began at Auto Craftsmen Ltd., an independent Import Dealership located in Montpelier, Vermont. Over the years Amy has done almost every job in the place. From cleaning lady to mechanic's helper, bookkeeping and marketing, to salesperson and service advisor; from part-time to full time, she took on more and more responsibility until she became so integrated in the life of the business and the customers that she was asked to become a business partner. Amy is passionate about creating Automotive Excellence within her business and feels that good communication is the essence of being able to explain, suggest and fix any problem her clients may have.