The world’s luxury SUV manufacturers have finally jumped aboard the hybrid bandwagon, with BMW, Volvo, Mercedes and now Audi preparing hybrid versions of their four-wheel drive family haulers. The Audi Q7 e-tron 2.0 TFSI quattro offers claimed best-in-class electric-only range thanks to a 17.3 kW/h fluid-cooled battery pack.
Audi is clear in outlining that the Q7 has been designed for the Asian market. The car was launched at the Shanghai International Auto Show and the German carmaker has used the Chinese standard for measuring electric-only range. Thanks to its fluid-cooled 17.3 kW/h battery, which is made up of 168 cells, Audi is claiming an electric range of 53 km (32.9 mi) – more than the BMW X5 xDrive40e, Volvo XC90 or Mercedes GLE SUV offerings can manage. When combined with the internal combustion engine, the Q7’s claimed range is an impressive 1,020 km (633.8 mi).
The ICE is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged unit that produces 185 kW (252 hp) and 370 Nm (273 ft.lb) of torque, while the disk-shaped electric motor adds 94 kW (126 hp) and a whopping 350 Nm (258 lb.ft) of torque, taking total outputs to 270 kW (367 hp) and 700 Nm (516 ft.lb). Audi isn’t just using its hybrid technology for better economy with the e-tron’s performance also getting a boost from the electric motor, bringing the 0-100 km/h (62 mph) sprint time down to 5.9 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 220 km/h (137 mph).
Claimed fuel consumption is equally as impressive as the performance figures, with Audi claiming 2.5 L/100km (94.1 mpg) and carbon emissions under 60 g/km. As well as using the hybrid system, Audi has worked on cutting down on weight. The five-link suspension system on the new Q7’s front and rear axles is 60 kg (132 lb) lighter than the axles on the outgoing model, aiding efficiency and handling thanks to a lower center of gravity. A specially designed heat pump also aids efficiency by using residual heat from the electric drive components to heat the interior and increase range.
As with its competitors, the Q7’s hybrid powertrain can be put into a number of different modes. The car usually starts in electric mode, with the engine only cutting in after the owner pushes the accelerator past a certain point in its travel. EV mode, as you’d expect, focuses on using only the car’s electric motor, while hybrid mode automatically decides whether the power comes from the car’s gasoline engine or electric motor. If owners want to save their battery power they can choose battery hold mode, while battery charge mode replenishes the battery while you drive.
Further contributing to the Q7’s economy is the gearbox calibration. When in hybrid mode, the Q7’s 8-speed automatic gearbox kicks into coasting mode, turning the engine and electric motor off until the driver gets back onto the accelerator, at which point Audi claims the engine will quickly and quietly start back up. Charging is tackled by a new two-phase system that can handle up to 7.2 kW of power. In ideal conditions using a high-powered industrial outlet and cable, the battery can be charged in 2.5 hours, but expect it to take much longer from a normal wall socket.
Setting the hybrid Q7 apart from its gasoline and diesel siblings is a special design for the car’s singleframe grille, distinctive 19-inch wheels and a new rear diffuser.
The Q7 will be available to Asian markets at the start of 2016, with no word from Audi about if or when it will make it available in other markets.