Audi tries as much as any carmaker in the U.S. to champion diesel technology while eliminating reasons for reluctant shoppers to dismiss the non-gasoline cars.

The manufacturer’s Turbocharged Direct Injection engines provide efficient boosts of power. “Clean diesel” advancements in the past decade or so make the engines at least as non-polluting as gas powered vehicles.

“They are not dirty or smelly,” said Michael Harrison, sales specialist at McDaniels Audi of Charleston, referring to early diesel problems with sulphur emissions.

Once noisy, today’s diesel engines in Audis and other cars stay refreshingly quiet.

And, to counteract diesel pump prices – typically as steep as premium gas costs – the powerplants are configured to be more fuel-sipping than in the past.

Audi even goes an extra step in helping the driver locate fuel stations, since finding a diesel pump is not quite as easy as locating a gas dispenser.

That said, Audi intends to “gradually bring them into America,” Harrison noted. The A6 sedan already includes a diesel version and the A7 diesel is on the way.

Now, just out: the 2014 Q5 TDI, a diesel “first” for Audi’s top selling, smaller sized SUV.

The Quattro Tiptronic model, sporting four-wheel drive with an eight-speed automatic transmission that can be switched to clutchless manual sport mode, posts a base price of $46,500. The sticker price on a well-appointed edition is $51,945.

A 3.2 liter V-6 engine powers the Q5 diesel. To get a feel of its performance, the 240 horsepower engine pushes out an astounding 428 pounds-feet of torque – a measure of pickup.

That’s how the not-that-large SUV can wring out 4,400 pounds of towing capacity.

“It absolutely took your breath away when you hit the pedal,” he said.

The model boasts fuel figures of 24 mpg city, 31 mpg highway for a combined 27 mpg. Drivers disclosing their findings via online chat boards report stronger results, notably for highway fuel economy. “What we are finding is closer to 37-38 mpg,” Harrison said.

Aside from the new diesel engine, the Q5 didn’t go through major changes for 2014. The SUV retains its gas powered version and the carmaker’s first hybrid, which was introduced in the 2013 model year.

Still, there’s plenty of returning goodies for the 2014 Q5 and a few new ones.

The $3,550 “navigation plus” package boasts voice recognition to call up information such as the next gas station, a rear camera that can be flipped on even when the car isn’t in reverse, Google Earth technology with real life views in the map sequence, weather information and a monitor to show where parking spots are available in cities as well as other services such as locating gas stations.

“If you get low on fuel, (the system) will tell you,” he said.

The scores of standard features include:

• “Keyless go” start, in which the driver possessing a key fob can enter the car hands free and push a button to engage or stop the engine.

• Harman Kardon audio system, which can be upgraded to an ultra-high-end Bang & Olufsen package.

• Three-zone climate control with heated seats.

• All leather interior.

• Spare tire under the cargo bay’s storage compartment.

Audi this year rolled out new energy-efficient “start-stop” technology by which the engine shuts off when the car is idling at a traffic light, for instance, then immediately restarts when you take your foot off the brake.

The innovation saves fuel and – in the gas version – should reduce carbon dioxide emissions, he said.

“Audi has all the technology at your fingertips,” Harrison said.

He foresees Q5 diesel buyers as people who want a high mileage car, since diesel engines “will run forever.”

Stemming from a moderate drive last week – some in the rain – the 2014 Q5 TDI debuted mightily, and mighty quietly.

The best trait would be that the diesel influence was a non-event. There’s really no way to tell the difference from a gas powered car in an ordinary drive.

In terms of performance, the Q5 handled deftly, including during showers, and braked promptly. Step on the gas, er – diesel – pedal, and the SUV picked up speed with ease.

The suspension was steady, even riding on cobblestone streets.

Leather seats and lots of legroom and headroom make the drive quite comfortable.

A blind spot warning signal that lights up on the side view mirrors when cars approach from behind was a smart safety touch.

Troubling features are few, but the side view mirrors are so large as to obscure visibility on turns.

Looked at as a whole, Audi achieved one major score with the new Q5. You can judge the luxury SUV based on many factors, but the diesel engine should in no way be a deterrent and can be a plus.

To learn more, visit your local Audi dealer.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or