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Audi Q7 plugs in to cleaner, greener ethos

07:46 18 November 2015

 Audi Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid combines diesel power with electric motors.

Audi Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid combines diesel power with electric motors.

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Audi is boosting its electric car line-up with a dual-power Q7 SUV but can it offer any advantages over the regular model, says Matt Joy.

Audi Q7 e-tron

What’s new?

Audi Q7 e-tron

Price: £65,000 (estimated)

Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel plus electric motors producing 369bhp and 516lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving all four wheels

Performance: 0-62mph six seconds; top speed 140mph

MPG: 166.2 combined

CO2 emissions: 46g/km

The second-generation Q7 has only recently arrived but there’s a new version round the corner. It’s lighter, stiffer and with more technology than ever but this e-tron version is altogether different.

Mixing diesel power with electric motors, the Q7 e-tron is a plug-in hybrid promising exceptional fuel consumption and emissions alongside similar performance, pricing and barely diminished practicality but it has to compete with the excellence of the standard car.

Looks and image

There’s nothing to distinguish the electric Q7. You may notice the additional filler flap, but the e-tron is as chunky and prestigious as the standard car which has plenty of presence.

Audi’s image has always been strong, and while emissions issues may have had a negative effect what better way to move on than with an SUV that can run on just electric power?

Space and practicality

The Q7 e-tron is a sizeable car but in e-tron guise there are a couple of compromises. The substantial battery pack sits in the boot instead of the third row of seats so the Q7 e-tron is a five-seater, but you still get individual second row chairs that each slide and fold. Boot space is also reduced but there’s still a sizeable 650 litres.

The cabin is as spacious and comfortable as the standard Q7, with generous space front and rear as well as excellent materials. The Q7’s virtual cockpit also gives you a full update on what the complex powertrain is doing.

Behind the wheel

Defaulting to electric mode on start-up, acceleration from rest is smooth, near-silent and usefully brisk. There are four modes – EV (electric vehicle), hybrid, battery save to hold charge until you want it and battery charge via the engine while driving.

In hybrid it will engage the battery, diesel engine or both depending on how you drive but the sat-nav predictive assistant will determine what to use based on the road and even the traffic.

This Q7 is even quieter than the standard car, and while increased weigh might mean it’s not quite as quick or agile, the potential economy results are worth the small sacrifice.

Value for money

The Q7 e-tron is significantly more expensive than a comparable diesel model but that extra outlay brings significant advantages. As well as being cleaner and greener, it qualifies for the government’s £5,000 grant, will pay no vehicle excise duty or London congestion charge. It would also bring substantial tax savings for company car buyers.

Who would buy one?

Company car drivers will love it, families with the funds will love it too and active lifestyle types with a conscious might not baulk at the idea either. It’s clever technology that is well executed and installed in a useful and desirable SUV.

FACTS AT A GLANCE

Price: £65,000 (estimated)

Engine: 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel plus electric motors producing 369bhp and 516lb/ft of torque

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving all four wheels

Performance: 0-62mph six seconds; top speed 140mph

MPG: 166.2 combined

CO2 emissions: 46g/km

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Andy Russell

Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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