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Geneva show: Audi powers up Q7 e-tron

Road trip: With a fully charged battery and a full tank of diesel, the Audi Q7 e-tron has a theoretical driving range of 1320km.

Audi's plug-in Q7 e-tron sips 1.7L/100km and races from 0-100km/h in 6.0 seconds

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Audi logo3 Mar 2015

AUDI detailed its forthcoming Q7 e-tron diesel-electric plug-in hybrid SUV at the Geneva motor show this week, revealing an electric-only range of 56km and a sportscar-beating 6.0-second 0-100km/h sprint time.

The electrified Q7 will go on sale in Europe later this year, but is not expected to hit Australian showrooms until early 2016, several months after the rest of the Q7 range arrives in about quarter four.

The high-riding family hauler will face some tough competition in the coming years, with Volvo's plug-in XC90 arriving late this year, and – most likely – similar vehicles from BMW and Mercedes-Benz after that.

The Q7 e-tron is the first diesel plug-in hybrid with all-wheel drive in its segment and the first diesel-electric Audi.

It uses a 3.0-litre six-cylinder TDI turbo-diesel engine producing 190kW of power and 600Nm of torque, matched with a 94kW/350Nm electric motor for a total system output of 275kW/700Nm. Electricity is stored in a 71.3kWh lithium-ion battery.

It is fitted with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission and Audi's quattro permanent all-wheel drive system.

The hybrid powertrain can push the SUV from a standing start to 100km/h in 6.0 seconds and on to a top speed of 225km/h, making the Q7 e-tron faster to 100km/h than the lighter, sportier Volkswagen Golf GTI hot hatch.

According to Audi, official combined fuel use in the e-tron is 1.7 litres per 100 kilometres, which is more frugal than the Volvo XC90 PHEV (2.5L/100km) and the smaller Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (1.9L/100km). Carbon dioxide emissions are less than 50g/km.

It offers an electric-only range of 56km which betters the Mitsubishi's range of 52km and the Volvo's 40km.

Audi claims the e-tron has a total diesel-electric range of 1410km.

A thermal management system with an integrated heat pump has been specially made for the Q7 e-tron, setting what Audi claims as “a new benchmark” in cabin comfort and for climate control efficiency.

Drive modes include EV, hybrid and battery-hold mode. When hybrid mode is activated, the Q7 coasts when the driver’s foot comes off the accelerator, while in battery charge mode, energy recovery occurs when the foot is taken off the accelerator.

The Q7's standard MMI navigation plus uses nav data and real-time traffic information to calculate the most fuel-efficient driving mode for the route.

The “active” accelerator pedal also pulses when cameras and radars detect changes to speed limits, town signs and intersections, and these changes in road conditions are also communicated visually.

As with the rest of the Q7 range, the e-tron gets a new five-link wheel suspension for the front and rear axles, cutting weight by 60kg over the outgoing model. For more adventurous driving, the Q7 has a tilt angle display, hill descent control, off-road navigation and an off-road mode for the stability control system.

Visually the e-tron has a unique grille, air intakes, rear diffuser and 19-inch wheels over and above the regular internal combustion versions that were revealed at this year's Detroit motor show.

Audi says a compact lithium-ion battery was employed to save space in the cabin. Cargo capacity is 890 litres with the rear seats up and 2075 litres with the seats folded. The tailgate is electrically operated.

So far, Audi is not saying if a seven-seat version will be available.

Q7 e-trons gain Audi's 'virtual cockpit' with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster which displays information such as energy flow, battery charge level, power meter and a conventional tachometer.

Standard gear includes 19-inch wheels, automatic air-conditioning, Audi 'connect' competent that connects the car with the internet, collision avoidance assist, cross-traffic alert, trailer assist and adaptive cruise control.

Options on European-spec models include a head-up display, privacy glass, climate-controlled contour front seats with massage function and a panoramic sunroof.

Audi Australia is set to kick off its plug-in hybrid roll-out later this month with the arrival of the A3 e-tron, while other electrified Audis are expected to follow.

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