Audi Q7 e-tron: Enough Plug-In TDI for the Whole Family (GENEVA)

Written By: EightySix

Audi Q7 e-Tron PHEV at the Geneva Motor Show

This week at the Geneva Auto Show, Audi displayed its family sized PHEV. Seven-seat plug-in hybrids just got a little less rare. For drivers who need three rows of seats and want some electric range, it's been hard finding anything to drive.

The Q7 e-tron boasts an astounding 166 MPGe. Is it really that much more efficient than the 124 MPGe BMW i3? It's probably measured with the very generous European scale, but remember what Audi has done well for a long time: diesel. Particularly their Turbo-charged Direct Injection (TDI) engines. It's the sort of engineering that allows the Golf TDI 2.0 to get 45 highway MPG.

Combine Audi's old skill at turbo diesel with their new passion for electricity, and you get a lot of performance and range. The Q7 e-tron uses a 3.0 liter TDI V6 and an electric motor to produce a combined 373 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque. Zero-to-sixty time is six seconds with a top speed of 139 mph. The eight-speed automatic transmission can de-couple from the drive-line, allowing the vehicle to coast for maximum efficiency.

The 17.3 kWh lithium-ion pack is built into the center tunnel. It enables the Q7 to travel 34 miles on pure electricity. With on a high-voltage outlet, it can recharge in two and a half hours. A full battery and diesel tank will give the SUV a whopping 876 mile range. With Audi's famous Quattro all-wheel drive, traction will be no issue.

Sounds Like a Volvo XC90 T8

The Q7 e-tron does fit squarely in the niche formed by the 2016 Volvo XC90 PHEV, which is also an all-wheel drive, seven passenger plug-in capable of a similar (5.9 seconds) 0-60 sprint. The Swede has more horsepower (400) but less torque (472). It gets its power from a more complex 2.0 liter four cylinder super-charged and turbo-charged gasoline engine with two electric motors.

The XC90 can reach 155 mph, but who's tearing across the country with their kids at 139 wishing for just a bit more?

The Volvo's smaller 9.2 kWh battery delivers only 25 miles, which is the big kicker. Other than that, it's a matter of style. Both are rather blocky and un-thrilling, like a blend of minivan and station wagon. The interior of the Volvo has more intricate crystal touches, but both are clean bright spaces with wood and chrome.

Both bring the latest in safety equipment, including 360 degree awareness and pre-collision warning. Although the Audi's price has not been released, it could be at least $65,000 like the Volvo.

But When?

The Q7 e-tron will come to Europe early in 2016. Soon after, whenever soon is, it will come to the United States. Audi's e-tron project is rapidly sprouting from a great idea into a tree bearing multiple fruits.

But can it hang with the looming Tesla Model X, that promises to be the electric seven-seater to beat? Although the X has been delayed several times, it should be out by the start of 2016.

Will consumers prefer a partially electric version of an existing vehicle like the Q7 over something new and revolutionary?