The new Audi Q7 plug-in hybrid isn’t the first such vehicle to be offered in the Q7 line-up. But while the previous incarnation used a diesel engine, the latest version, badged 60 TFSI e Competition, follows the industry (and customer) trend by switching to petrol.
The concept of plugging a big, luxurious off-roader into the mains might seem rather odd, but this is key to the 60 TFSIe’s efficiency. There has been a change in fuel for the plug-in hybrid Q7. There is a bit of electronic intervention to reign in your enthusiasm, though. The 60 TFSIe has a pressure point in its accelerator pedal travel (like a kickdown point that awakens the engine) to encourage you to remain in electric-only mode as much as possible.
The Q7 launches at the same time as the A7 and A8 TFSIe cars, all expected to arrive on UK shores by 2020, hot on the heels of the recently-launched Q5 hybrid. There’s a 3.0-litre V6 TFSI petrol under the bonnet (instead of a diesel like the pre-facelift Q7 e-Tron) mated to a 94kW electric motor, which, in turn is powered by a 17.3kWh battery pack located underneath the boot floor. An eight-speed auto handles the power and sends it to all four wheels.
Audi says the Q7’s total system power output is rated at 449bhp and 516lb ft, meaning it has around 80bhp more than the Q7 e-Tron it replaces but the same amount of torque. Nailed-down technical specifications at the time of driving the car were a little, er… sparse, but we’re convinced it’s quicker to 62mph than the old PHEV.
This Q7 e-tron features the latest version of Audi’s ‘predictive efficiency’ system, which uses data from the sat-nav, topographical information and live traffic updates to efficiently manage the car’s charge.
The system is capable of making judgement calls on when to fire up the engine and when there’s an opportunity to harness braking energy to help top up the battery. In practice, you’ll find it tapping your foot through the throttle pedal as you approach T-junctions, encouraging you to lift off and kick-start recuperation.
The navigation has a blue spider web-like layer that shows you how far you can go without the engine turning on at all and the usual rev counter on the Virtual Cockpit has been changed to a power meter that shows you when you’re using electric or combustion power.
Audi’s Drive Select modes have also been modified so ‘Efficiency’ uses as little fuel as it can, ‘Comfort’ balances the power delivery 50:50 and ‘Dynamic’ leaves the engine on and instructs the e-motor to give a helping hand. Sadly, the option to move the gear shifter in to manual mode has gone, making those paddles on the back of the wheel just a tad useless.
So far, so normal, but Audi has Audi-fied the experience a bit. Like the combustion engine models, the TFSIe versions have the brand’s ‘predictive efficiency assist’ function.
The Q7’s interior is awash with high-end, soft-touch plastics, fine-grain leathers and thick carpets. The boot floor has been raised too, which makes the cargo area smaller than in the normal Q7. Not that this should be a major issue, mind you, since the luggage capacity is still plenty for a family of five; you could take a couple of buggies and some suitcases without having to fold any seats down.