Later this month you’ll be able to order an Audi Q8 with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. You’ll have a choice of two of them in fact, one called Q8 55 TFSI e quattro and the other Q8 Competition 60 TFSI e quattro. Both are powered by the same plug-in hybrid drivetrain but the former develops 376bhp in total and the latter 456bhp.
The drivetrain combines a 3.0-litre TFSI petrol engine with 345bhp and 450Nm and a “permanently excited synchronous electric motor” in Audi’s words. The lucky thing. The relentlessly aroused electric motor is small enough to be packed into the housing of the eight-speed automatic transmission, and it draws power from a 17.8kWh battery pack.
In both versions the electric motor allows zero emissions driving for up to 28 miles (expect closer to 20 in reality) and at speeds up to 83mph. Both have quattro four-wheel drive, which can send up to 70% of the power to the rear and up to 85% up front. It’s constantly working out what the best front-to-back ratio is, for optimum traction.
The main difference between the two is pace, naturally, although both get to 62mph in less than six seconds, the 55 in 5.8 and the 60 in 5.4. And yet both return around 100mpg and 65g/km CO2, meaning they’ll be amazingly cost-efficient in company car tax terms. Until, that is, the Government tires of the current setup and changes the rules to gather more tax from cars like this, which is almost inevitable.
Here’s a quote from someone called Andrew Doyle from Audi. A quote that appears to have been written on his behalf by a PR company and reads as though it should be accompanied by a wind machine and dramatic background music:
“Luxury travel is obviously something to be savoured, but for an ever increasing number of drivers it can only be enjoyed with due consideration and respect for the environment. Cruising on air suspension in the upscale surroundings of the new Q8 TFSI e accompanied only by the distant purr of its electric motor is a true golden moment, but also a green one that can be enjoyed for the entire duration of many commutes, eliminating exhaust emissions from numerous journeys.
“Factor in the V6 engine providing the luxury of abundant power and the convenience of a far-reaching driving range in hybrid mode and you have an SUV that really appeals on every level.”
We’re pretty emotional now. Give us a minute.
Okay. Audi is adding plug-in hybrid versions across its model range, to the extent that buyers can now have one on an A3, A4, A5, A6, Q5, Q7 or Q8. This one is naturally the most expensive, costing £73,860 for the 55 or £85,750 for the 60.