Hybrid SUVs are all the craze nowadays, with seemingly every premium automaker developing their own. It’s almost as if it’s a game to see how many luxury car makers can fool people into thinking these behemoths are anything near fuel efficient. However, Audi stands out among the rest of the heard for one simple fact and it has only three letters — TDI.
Under the hood of almost every other hybrid SUV these days is a turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Now, at first this makes sense, because turbo-fours are better for fuel economy. But when put in a massive, luxury-lined SUV that weighs on the wrong side of 5,000 lbs, the little four-banger is going to struggle. Even with electric motor help. And if it struggles, it’s going to use a lot of fuel. This makes these hybrid SUVs somewhat of a contradiction in terms.
However, do you know what kind of engines can be small and also strong enough to lug big SUVs with relative ease? Diesels. And Audi has decided to put a diesel engine in its hybrid SUV.
The Audi Q7 e-tron TDI is the only diesel powered plug-in hybrid on the market and its existence makes us question any other alternative. It packs a 3.0 liter turbocharged V6 TDI diesel engine, that develops 255 hp and 443 lb-ft of torque. Sandwiched between that engine and the eight-speed automatic transmission is an electric motor, to create a combined power output of 369 hp and 51 lb-ft. This combo just simply makes sense. Hybrids are fuel efficient and diesels are fuel efficient. So why not combine the two most efficient powertrains together to make a hybrid?
It seems like a logical thing to do. But don’t just take it from me, take it from the specs. The Q7 e-tron TDI is capable of 24/28 mpg, city and highway respectively, with an EPA combined gas/electric 54 MPGe. That’s best in class. Plus, with the large gas tank and wonderful diesel efficiency, the Q7 e-tron is capable of over 800 miles of range, if driven carefully.
But it isn’t just the numbers on the spec sheet that make the Audi Q7 e-tron TDI so great. Its diesel engine pulls like a train, far better suited to SUV duty than a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. 0-60 mph is possible in 5.9 seconds, which is mighty quick for a hybrid SUV. It may not be as fast as the insane trip-turbocharged Audi SQ7 TDI, but it’s still properly quick. Plus, its dieseley torque allows it to have better in-gear punch than its gasoline rivals.
Aside from that, the Q7 e-tron is business as usual for the Q7 lineup. The interior is lovely and probably best-in-class. Its handling is sharpish for and SUV of its size and its ride quality is superb. We love the new, second-generation Audi Q7 for its combination of impressive technology, fantastic luxury and over-achieving handing characteristics. This Audi Q7 e-tron TDI seems to only add some efficiency to that.
There are some drawbacks to it, though. Its battery can’t be charged without plugging it in. So that means no charging of the battery with the engine. Regenerative braking can add a bit of juice, but very, very little. It’s also not going to be available in the US. Unfortunately, American customers are too hurt about VW’s diesel scandal that they don’t want to buy diesel cars anymore. Even though Audi has had its new engine tested and it passes with flying colors, most Americans have a strong distaste for the crude oil engine. Instead, we’re going to get another turbocharged four-cylinder version here in the ‘States.
The Audi Q7 e-tron TDI is an interesting answer to a question many car makers are asking. Everyone wants to make SUVs more fuel efficient and hybrids seem to be the answer. But one of the oldest fuel sources in the world gets overlooked because of a bad reputation. However, when you combine the ancient fuel type with state-of-the-art hybrid technology, you get the best of both worlds. New and young technologies working together to get the best economy possible. That’s what the Audi Q7 -tron TDI is.