Audi Q7 e-tron diesel-electric hybrid promises 166mpg

Audi releases details of its plug-in hybrid e-tron Q7 SUV, set to rival the Porsche Cayenne hybrid

Audi's next-generation R8 may be the car to draw in the crowds at this year's Geneva Motor Show, but the firm is also set to show its plug-in hybrid 'e-tron' variant of the new Q7 SUV. The standard seven-seat Q7 goes on sale in mid 2015, with the diesel-electric model arriving soon after. 

The departure from petrol to diesel for the hybrid Q7 means it differs from the firm's two other e-tron models: the A3 hatchback and R8 supercar. Despite the VW-Group owning Porsche, the firm decided not to utilise the Cayenne S E-Hybrid's 316bhp supercharged V6.

Instead, an all-new powertrain has been developed that combines a 3.0-litre TDI diesel engine with an electric motor, bringing a total of 368bhp. That output is down on the Cayenne's 410bhp total, but the Audi counters with an impressive 700Nm of torque.

The electric motor is integrated into the standard eight-speed automatic transmission, shunning preference for CVT gearboxes amongst Japanese manufacturers. Combined with a 17.3kWh battery pack, the Q7 e-tron claims an all-electric range of nearly 35 miles.

Performance figures are down on the Cayenne, but still impressive for a large seven-seat SUV with a hybrid powertrain. 0-62mph takes 6.1 seconds and the top speed is 140mph. The firm claims the powertrain achieves an astonishing 166mpg and CO2 emissions of just 50g/km.

The Q7 e-tron also claims to be the world's first plug-in hybrid with a 'heat pump', minimising the electricity demands that using heating or air-conditioning places on the battery pack. This should mean range isn't diminished, unlike some electric vehicles. It is also able to pre-heat and pre-cool the car using a mobile phone app.

We'll have more information on the latest addition to the Q7 range when it is revealed fully in Geneva this week.

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