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July 18, 2014 AT 10:00 AM
U.S. customers haven't had quite the range of diesel vehicles their European counterparts enjoy, but it's still hard to believe that one of the biggest badges in diesel technology--TDI--is now a quarter-century old. Audi launched its first TDI diesel model at the 1989 Frankfurt Auto Show. That car was the Audi 100 TDI, a 2.5-liter, five-cylinder turbodiesel producing a modest 120 horsepower and 195 lb-ft of torque. Since then, the cars and the engines that power them have changed almost beyond recognition. TDI stands for Turbocharged Direct Injection. While neither direct injection nor turbocharging, nor even a combination of the two were unique to Audi in 1989, the German automaker and its parent company Volkswagen certainly popularized the concept. By combining direct injection of atomized fuel into the cylinder and turbocharging to boost the engine's power output, TDI engines could develop more power and torque yet use less fuel than their predecessors.