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Long wait for Audi Q7 e-tron almost over

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 confirms diesel-electric Q7 e-tron now expected arrive in Australia by year-end

Audi logo19 Jul 2017

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

THE long wait for Audi’s Q7 e-tron plug-in hybrid large luxury SUV is almost over, with the German brand gaining federal government go-ahead to import and sell the model in Australia.

Audi Australia product communications manager Shaun Cleary confirmed to GoAuto that the plug-in Q7 is now expected to arrive here before the end of this year.

The plug-in Q7 was originally scheduled to arrive Down Under in early 2016, with official estimates later revised to mid-2016. It now looks likely to launch before the end of this year.

Mr Cleary said Audi Australia has “taken the opportunity to refine the package, to ensure it’s very attractive to the kind of customers that are looking at this emerging segment”.

Documents viewed by GoAuto confirm Audi Australia will take the diesel-electric option that debuted at the 2015 Geneva motor show, part-powered by a 3.0-litre turbo-V6 oiler, rather than the version shown in Shanghai a year later with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol under the bonnet.

As it commands an 18 per cent price premium over the most powerful diesel-only Q7 variant in the UK market, the Q7 e-tron is expected to cost around $140,000 by the time it lands here with Luxury Car Tax applied, sitting below the hot-rod SQ7 flagship that is priced at $153,616 before on-road costs.

Price wise, the Q7 e-tron will eclipse its two luxury plug-in hybrid SUV competitors, the Volvo XC90 T8 (from $120,900 plus on-road costs) and BMW X5 xDrive40e ($124,200 plus on-roads).

But Audi’s segment-leading claimed performance, fuel-efficiency and battery range figures go some way to justifying the extra cost.

The Q7 e-tron has a 94kW/350Nm electric motor sandwiched between its 190kW/600Nm diesel engine and eight-speed automatic transmission.

Audi claims it can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds, with combined fuel consumption of just 1.8 litres per 100 kilometres. Electric-only driving range from its 17.3 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is 56 kilometres.

For comparison, the BMW X5 xDrive40e does 0-100km/h in 6.8 seconds, is rated for combined-cycle consumption of 3.3L/100km and has an electric-only range of 31km while the XC90 T8 will do triple digits in 5.6s, consumes 2.1L/100km and can go 43km on batteries alone.

In the Audi, the boot capacity drops from 890 litres with the seats up and 1835L with them folded on combustion variants to 650L and 1835L for the e-tron.

However, it matches air-sprung non-hybrid variants for braked towing capacity at 3500kg (steel-sprung versions rated at 2700kg).

Charging the Q7 battery from empty takes two and a half hours using a 7.2 kW three-phase outlet or around eight hours from a conventional household socket.

With a full battery and a full tank of diesel, the Q7 e-tron has a theoretical driving range of 1320km – that’s almost enough for Sydney-Adelaide non-stop.

The e-tron weighs 2520kg compared with 2070kg for the non-hybrid, with 375kg of this used by the battery pack, electric motor and power electronics and the rest by its higher level of standard equipment including a hybrid-specific three-zone climate control with a heat pump that works like reverse-cycle air-conditioning to more efficiently heat the cabin when not using the combustion engine. Other e-tron exclusive kit includes an energy meter that can be displayed instead of, or in addition to, the rev-counter. There are also displays for energy flow, remaining battery range and battery charge level.

The satellite navigation system is integrated with the hybrid drive electronics and can combine navigation data with real-time traffic information to select which of the four selectable driving modes will be most fuel-efficient for the journey, revising this along the route on longer trips.

In addition, camera and radar data map the vehicle’s surroundings, up to three kilometres ahead along the programmed navigation route to provide prompts that help the driver make progress as fuel-efficiently as possible. For example, it will display an icon telling them when to reduce accelerator pedal pressure and the pedal itself will push gently or pulses against their foot.

The aforementioned driving modes comprise EV, which prioritises use of the electric motor, Hybrid that automatically calculates on the most efficient combination of combustion and electricity, and Battery Hold, which reduces electric motor usage and prioritises the storage of electricity for later use.

A fourth setting is accessed when in Hybrid mode and the gear selector is in the Sport position, which engages a more aggressive regenerative braking strategy.

“This kind of technology brings really attractive user benefits for customers interested in taking up the most innovative drivetrain concepts that are arriving into the Australian market,” said Mr Cleary, who described the Q7 as being “at the leading edge of alternative drivetrain technology”.

Q7 sales were down 7.2 per cent to the end of June with 1456 delivered, against a segment that shrunk 12.0 per cent.

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