Best cars & vans

7. Audi A8 Hybrid

Audi’s A8 Hybrid curbs the cost of running an Executive saloon without resorting to diesel

Audi A8 Hybrid profile

Hybrid technology can cut the cost of running a luxury saloon while retaining imperious performance and hushed refinement. Audi’s A8 Hybrid shows how to do it in some style.

In the A8 Hybrid the 208bhp 2.0-litre TFSI turbo petrol engine is joined by a 1.3kWH electric motor, giving a total of 241bhp and 480Nm of torque. Audi says the system provides 44.8mpg fuel economy and 147g/km CO2 emissions. This is on par with an A4 2.0 TFSI auto and undercuts the A8 3.0 TDI’s 42.8mpg and 174g/km.
The hybrid set-up sees the electric mounted motor behind the engine, where the torque converter would normally be (it’s replaced by a dual-clutch auto). The motor runs off a lithium-ion battery pack, above the rear axle. This weighs only 36.7kg, so doesn’t upset the Audi A8’s handling; the car is agile, despite its 1,870kg kerbweight. 
But the extra weight does affect the performance in a straight line: the Hybrid takes 1.6 seconds longer than the A8 3.0 TDI diesel to cover 0-62mph, posting a time of 7.7 seconds.
Throttle response isn’t very sharp; it makes you wonder if the car really does have all the torque Audi claims. The front wheels are driven through an eight-speed box – this is the first front-drive A8 – and the car switches seamlessly between its three driving modes at the touch of a button.
In full electric mode, the Hybrid can travel up to 1.8 miles and hit 62mph. Select D, and the most efficient power source is chosen for the conditions, while S offers maximum power. But when you pull away, the car initially uses electric power; the engine kicks in when the batteries run down. A dash meter shows battery charge and regenerative braking energy.
The A8 Hybrid still has luxuries like leather, a Bose stereo and three-zone climate control, plus LED lights and unique 19-inch alloys. Prices have yet to be released, but Audi is positioning the Hybrid as an alternative to the 3.0 TDI, which starts at £56,610.

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