Technology

On the road with Audis new Q5 and A8 TFSI e plug-in hybrids

  • This is Audi's new lineup of TFSI e plug-in hybrid EVs. We'll be getting the A7, A8, and Q5 PHEVs in the United States, but probably not that Q7. Audi
  • The first to reach America later in 2019 is the Q5 TFSI e. It couples a 2.0L four-cylinder engine to a 105kW electric motor. Audi
  • In 2020, we'll also get the A8 TFSI e, which pairs a 3.0L V6 with a 100kW electric motor. Jonathan Gitlin
  • The best-looking of the Audi PHEVs will obviously be this A7 TFSI e. This one also gets the 2.0L powertrain. Audi
  • Virtual Cockpit will be standard in US Audi PHEVs, and it feeds the driver information to make them as efficient as possible. Audi
  • A cutaway of the Q5's 14.1kWh battery pack. Jonathan Gitlin
  • To switch the Q5 in or out of EV mode, there's a physical button next to the drive-select switches. Audi
  • In the A7 and A8, there are no physical buttons, just touchscreens. Audi
  • The navigation shows you your electric-only range, among other things. Audi
  • The best seat in an A8 is usually in the back. Jonathan Gitlin
  • Audi
  • Audi

Audi provided two nights in a hotel and air travel from Washington, DC, to Munich for this story.

MUNICH—That we need to do something about the transportation sector's carbon impact should be beyond clear by now. With luck, that means a lot more people walking, cycling, and taking public transport for the short trips that make up so much of our lives. But America's infrastructure and culture is heavily biased toward the personal automobile and the need to make road trips, even if few drive more than 100 miles a day.

But even if we can't get to a full battery EV fleet any time soon, there's still plenty of low-hanging fruit. Like the big and inefficient luxury vehicles bought by the upper-middle class—if there's a way to make the short trips that people do in those less actively damaging to the planet, I think that's a positive. Which is where these two Audis come in.

I was in Munich to learn more about PPE, the modular electric-car architecture that Audi, Porsche, and perhaps Bentley and Lamborghini will use to build EVs to escape the massive fines looming for OEMs that can't get their European fleet CO2 average down to below 95g/km. But not everyone can or will want a BEV as their next car. Fortunately for those with serious range anxiety, there's always the option of a plug-in hybrid EV. So it was handy that the company had some of its new PHEVs on hand for us to try out.

Audi has offered a PHEV in the past, but only in the diminutive (by US standards) A3 e-tron. That car is no longer available, but the company's next PHEV push will be spearheaded by the Q5 TFSI e SUV—the e-tron name now being exclusive to Audi BEVs. Starting with this one makes sense—Americans love crossovers and SUVs, and they buy more Q5s each year than any other Audi model.

Two PHEV powertrains

The Q5 TFSI e uses a parallel hybrid powertrain with a 2.0L turbocharged direct-injection gasoline (TFSI) engine and an electric motor that work in concert to send torque to all four wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch (S-tronic in Audi lingo) transmission. The internal combustion engine provides 248hp (185kW) and 273lb-ft (370Nm), with the permanent synchronous magnet electric motor adding an additional 140hp (105kW) and 258lb-ft (350Nm), for a total of 362hp (270kW) and 368lb-ft (500Nm).

The electric motor is fed by a 14.1kWh lithium-ion battery that provides 25 miles (40km) of electric range under the European WLTP test cycle—the EPA has yet to rate the US-spec PHEV, which will also do without the car's ability to coast at cruising speed. (Americans apparently do not like the harshness of the engine cutting back in at freeway speeds, we were told; Americans need to get over that.)

Sometime later in 2020, PHEV versions of the A7 fastback and A8 limo will also make their way across the Atlantic. The A7 TFSI e gets the exact same powertrain as the Q5 TFSI e, but the larger, heavier A8 is slightly different. Audi's PHEV flagship sedan instead makes use of a 3.0L TFSI V6 engine and a 100kW (135Read More – Source

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