Audi A8 hybrid review
|Car type||Electric range||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions|
|Plug-in hybrid||26 miles||TBC||TBC|
While much of the talk around electric cars is focused on small, affordable, urban runabouts, there's another category of car that benefits just as much from electrification (or even a degree of electrification). That's the luxury limousine, where smoothness and near-silence (for the passengers) and low running costs (for the driver) are all-important.
The next Jaguar XJ is going to be electric-only, and you can already get plug-in hybrid versions of the current BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S-Class. Now, Audi is joining the party with the A8 60 TFSI – the flagship of its new line-up of plug-in hybrid vehicles that also includes the Q5 and Q7 SUVs, the A7 four-door coupe and shortly the A6 saloon, too.
The '60 TFSIe' powertrain comprises a 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine plus a 126bhp electric motor, with a combined total power output 443bhp. Power is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
We don't have official performance or fuel-economy figures for the hybrid A8 just yet, although a 0-62mph time in the region of six seconds is anticipated, along with a top speed of more than 140mph. Sport and Vorsprung trim levels will be offered, with the former available in standard and long-wheelbase guise, and the latter as a long-wheelbase car only.
When the 14.1kWh battery is fully charged (which takes about two-and-a-half hours from a 7kW wallbox), the A8 TFSIe will go for up to 26 miles without the petrol engine switching on, at speeds up to 111mph. That means faster electric running than either the Mercedes S 560 e or BMW 745e.
On the move, the A8 is a very smooth drive, with the transition from electric to petrol power being almost imperceptible. With the help of a dashboard indicator, you can be gentle enough with the accelerator to avoid waking the petrol engine, too. An EV mode instructs the car to prioritise battery power, but in general it's better to leave the car in Hybrid mode and let it work out the best combination of electric and petrol power to keep moving as efficiently as possible. To help it do this, sat-nav, live traffic and topography data are all called upon. You can also prioritise the petrol engine if you want to save battery power for urban running later on in your journey.
Elsewhere, the A8 is as impressive a large luxury car as it's always been, remaining uncannily quiet inside regardless of which power source you're using, how fast you're travelling or what type of road surface you're passing over. In terms of ride quality, it falls just short of the Mercedes S-Class's benchmark and is broadly on par with the BMW 7 Series.
Interior materials are pleasingly luxurious throughout, although we're not totally convinced by the 'haptic' feedback employed by the large twin infotainment screens; it takes a bit of getting used to and means you have to give the screen a proper press rather than just a tap for it to do anything. In practice, this is more distracting than a regular touchscreen when you're on the move.
These niggles aside, the A8 hybrid seems entirely fit for purpose as a hugely comfortable, classy and (relatively) environmentally friendly way of transporting VIPs and dignitaries around. We’re awaiting final confirmation of its efficiency figures to give the definitive verdict.