Given the current trend for SUVs, plus buyers’ growing appetite for plug-in hybrids, the new Audi Q7 e-tron could be arriving in the UK at just the right time.
It’s the first Audi SUV to get the e-tron treatment – pairing a 254bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine with a powerful 94kW electric motor and an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It’s a drivetrain that produces some very big and impressive numbers – headline official figures include 156.9mpg and 48g/km of CO2.
But economy hasn’t been maximised at the expense of performance, as the total output of 368bhp and 700Nm of torque enables the e-tron to cover 0-62mph in 6.2 seconds. That’s faster than a VW Golf GTI in a car weighing almost twice as much.
Inevitably, then, you’d expect there to be a catch. Upwards of 156mpg sounds ambitious, and in our experience it is;
42 miles of driving with the batteries fully charged returned just shy of 70mpg.
Having said that, you’ll do well to match that in either the Volvo XC90 T8 or BMW X5 xDrive40e, as both come powered by thirstier and smaller 2.0-litre turbos.
But fail to keep the batteries topped up and you can expect economy to drop to 36mpg- about whatyou’re likely to get from a standard diesel Q7. Audi claims an all-electric range of 34 miles.
The standard Q7 majors on refinement and sophistication, but the e-tron builds on those strengths even more. A gentle squeeze of the throttle will see you glide away in eerie silence. Press on and theV6 engine fires up. It’s very well integrated and only detectable by a distant murmur from under the bonnet. Given the calm and cultured manner in which you can waft around in pure EV mode, the e-tron’s quick turn of pace under power does take you by surprise. The big, smooth V6 and electric motor work together very effectively.
A downside of the bulky batteries is that while the standard car gets seven seats, the Q7 e-tron is a strict five-seater. Boot capacity also shrinks from 770 litres to 650 litres, but it’s still more than spacious enough to swallow a family’s worth of luggage.
It’s easy to get carried away with the lengthy options list; our car had over £20,000 worth of extras fitted. One item worth the cash is the £2,000 adaptive air- suspension. The e-tron is a very heavy car, and the set-up does a fine job of absorbing bumps and ruts, allowing the 2.5-tonne SUV to comfortably and silently waft along.
Chunky batteries reduce boot capacity by 120 litres, to 650 litres. They also force e-tron buyers to make do without third row of seats.
Topping the batteries up from a domestic power source can take up to eight hours. A public fast-charging point reduces that to two-and-a-half hours.
Audi’s 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit is standard, along with MMI navigation plus. Adaptive air- suspension is a worthy £2,000 option.
Supremely relaxing to drive and eerily quiet, the Audi Q7 e-tron does everything you could ask of a premium SUV. It’s capable of economy figures you would never expect from a car of this size, although in reality they’re hard to achieve. It’s around £10,000 more than a regular Q7 diesel – and you’ll have to do without the third row of seats – but it’s certainly top of the plug-in hybrid SUV pile.
Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI
Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel, plus electric motor
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, four-wheel drive
0-62mph: 6.2 seconds
Top speed: 143mph
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