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Frankfurt show: Audi unveils A8 hybrid limousine

Big greenie: Audi has unveiled its forthcoming hybrid-engined A8 limo ahead of its debut at the Frankfurt show next month.

Audi Australia gives strong consideration to selling hybrid-powered A8 here

Audi logo24 Aug 2011

By MIKE COSTELLO

AUDI Australia has expressed “genuine interest” in the newly-unveiled A8 hybrid limousine that the German company today confirmed would go into production in 2012 after its appearance at next month’s Frankfurt motor show.

The new petrol-electric variant would go head to head with the only high-end luxury limo hybrid currently sold in Australia, the Lexus LS600hL, if Audi Australia ticks the box for the newcomer.

Audi already offers two relatively frugal diesel options in its A8 range in Australia, but says it is still seriously contemplating the hybrid version.

Audi Australia’s general manager of corporate communications Anna Burgdorf said that while the diesels might have similar performance figures to the hybrid, the company has other strategic reasons for considering it for local sale.

“Audi has made no secret of the fact that alternative and future mobility is something that we’re very interested in,” she said. “Obviously, a hybrid vehicle fills that mid-range to fully-electric cars.

“I certainly think that, in terms of a strategically-positioned car, the A8 hybrid is something that we’d look at for this market, regardless of whether or not there’s a current petrol or diesel engine that’s close to it.”

7 center imageAccording to the German manufacturer, the petrol-electric propulsion system in the German luxury car develops peak power of 180kW and 480Nm of torque while sipping fewer than 6.4 litres of fuel per 100km. CO2 emissions are 140 grams per kilometre.

This makes it a fairly even match with the local market’s entry-level 3.0-litre turbo diesel A8, which produces 184kW and 550Nm while using just 6.6L/100km.

Even the more performance oriented 4.2-litre eight-cylinder turbo-diesel manages to consume just 7.8L/100km of fuel, despite a prodigious output of 258kW and 800Nm.

High-end hybrids have traditionally generated most of their sales volume in markets which shun diesel-powered luxury passenger cars, such as China and the United States.

The parallel hybrid drivetrain in the new A8 combines a 2.0-litre TFSI petrol engine with a small permanent magnet synchronous electric motor linked to a 1.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

The petrol-powered four-cylinder generates 155kW of power and 350Nm of peak torque between 1500 and 4200rpm, while the electric motor develops 40kW and a generous 210Nm.

Provisional figures indicate it can dash from zero to 100km/h in 7.7 seconds on its way to a 235km/h top speed. Using electric power only, the big Audi can reach a top speed of 100km/h or travel for a range of 3km and a constant speed of 60km/h.

A modified eight speed automatic transmission guides the torque via the front wheels and uses a multi-plate clutch that sits in an oil bath to connect the petrol engine and electric motor.

The torque converter at the front of the transmission on other A8 variants makes way for the disc-shaped electric motor.

The gearbox offers three different modes – standard drive, an EV mode – giving priority to electric drive – and a sport mode for performance driving.

Visually, the A8 hybrid is distinguished from its more traditional siblings by its ‘turbine-blade’ 10-spoke alloy wheels, which come in diameters of 18- or 19-inches, as well as hybrid badges and exclusive Arctic silver paint.

Metallic paint, three-zone automatic air conditioning, LED headlights and a high-end BOSE sound system come as standard.

Audi Australia has previously stated that it will seek to import the hybrid-engined Q5 luxury SUV to this country, with a likely launch date some time in 2012.

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All future models

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GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.