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First drive: Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Audi.

First drive: Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid
A new diesel-electric plugin hybrid version of the Audi Q7 arrives in the New Year.

 



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Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5

The large SUV marketplace is quickly becoming awash with plugin hybrid options for savvy buyers that want to reduce their tax bill without sacrificing performance. The latest, Audi's refined new Q7 e-tron, is brimming with clever technology, plus it takes a different path to most others in the segment by pairing a diesel engine with the electric componentry. Is it a game-changer?

Test Car Specifications

Model reviewed: Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid
Pricing: estimated at 65,000 after grants
Powertrain: 3.0-litre V6 TDI turbodiesel mated to 94kW electric motor and 17.3kWh lithium ion battery pack
Transmission: eight-speed Tiptronic automatic, quattro four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 46g/km (VED Band A, zero annual tax)
Combined economy: 166.2mpg
Top speed: 140mph
0-62mph: 6.0 seconds
Maximum system power: 373hp
Maximum system torque: 700Nm
Boot space: 650- to 1,835 litres

What's this?

Audi's latest stepping stone on its path to full range electrification. It's called the Q7 e-tron and it's a diesel-electric plugin hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) based on the company's range-topping SUV. That's right, diesel. Unlike all other hybrids in the segment (BMW X5, Lexus RX 450h and Porsche Cayenne), the Q7 stops at the black pump for fuel. It's a 3.0-litre V6 engine producing 258hp and 600Nm. Boosting that is a 94kW electric motor, mounted within the casing of the eight-speed automatic gearbox, producing 350Nm of torque from zero rpm. It's fed by a large 17.3kWh battery pack sitting above the rear axle, which can be recharged from an external source by various means and the total system outputs are 373hp and 700Nm. The electric-only range is quoted at just under 35 miles, while recharging takes as little as 2.5 hours from an industrial outlet. Official figures peg the Q7 e-tron at 166.2mpg and 46g/km, meaning zero annual road tax and large grants. When it arrives in the UK in 2016 the on-the-road price is expected to be about 65,000.

Due to all the extra components, the Q7 e-tron is a five-seater only (as are all its rivals) and it loses about 120 litres of boot space to the regular TDI version. It also weighs some 375kg more.

How does it drive?

Smoothly, in a word. The integration between the electric motor and diesel engine is seamless. If it wasn't for the bespoke hybrid system dashboard displays (and a dead-feeling brake pedal) you'd be hard pushed to know that this Q7 is anything different to the default TDI diesel. The 3.0-litre V6 itself is all but inaudible unless you try to repeat that impressive six-second 0-62mph time, but even then it's a pleasant enough sounding engine. Of course, the electric motor assists it in full-bore acceleration and takes over completely at low speeds if there's enough charge in the battery and you're not in the Battery Charge or Battery Hold modes.

Even more so than the TDI diesel cars, the Q7 e-tron encourages the driver to take it easy, with prompts to lift off the accelerator on the head-up display and via subtle pulses through the throttle pedal itself. It's not as intrusive as it sounds, and if you want to switch it into Dynamic mode and hurry up a little then it has power in reserve. Do that and you'll find that the considerable extra weight has dulled responses a tad, though in reality the Q7 handles corners better than most owners will ever need it to. It's not the kind of SUV you'll go seeking out interesting roads in, though it would be exceptionally comfortable on a long journey.

Verdict

Technically speaking, the new Audi Q7 e-tron is a marvel. It features cutting edge plugin hybrid technology with some very clever features. The results include better performance than the regular TDI diesel models and official fuel economy and emissions figures that rival the smallest and most efficient cars on sale. Naturally it needs to be plugged in a lot to achieve those in reality, but there are big tax benefits to be had. Sadly, all this positivity is offset by the reduction in seating and boot capacities, and the elevated price. For early adopters only? We hope not.

3 3 3 3 3 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

3 3 3 3 3 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Shane O' Donoghue - 19 Nov 2015









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2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Paddy McGrath.2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Paddy McGrath.2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Paddy McGrath.2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Paddy McGrath.2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Paddy McGrath.

2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Paddy McGrath.2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Paddy McGrath.2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Paddy McGrath.2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Paddy McGrath.2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Paddy McGrath.



2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Audi.
 

2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Audi.
 

2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Audi.
 

2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Audi.
 

2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Audi.
 

2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Audi.
 

2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Audi.
 

2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Audi.
 

2016 Audi Q7 e-tron plugin hybrid. Image by Audi.
 






 

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