The wraps came off the diesel electric Audi Q7 e-Tron plug-in at the Geneva Auto Show this week. The car offers unprecedented fuel economy with very low emissions for a vehicle of its size. With a 17 kWh battery, the car is capable of going 34 miles on electric power alone. Overall, it is rated at 166 MPGe with just 50 grams of CO2 emitted per kilometer.
The technological wizardry baked into the Q7 e-Tron is amazing. Front and rear suspension components have been completely redesigned and weigh 130 lbs less than those found on previous Audi 4X4’s. The disc shaped electric motor is connected to an 8 speed Tiptronic transmission and can be uncoupled completely from the drivetrain.
An electronic management system controls a center differential and other components of the driveline to insure torque goes where it is needed most. It also decides when and how much to use either the electric motor or the 6 cylinder TDI engine to maximize economy, acceleration or regenerative braking. Driver selectable controls tell the computer what driving dynamics the driver prefers. Working together the engine and electric motor pump out enough torque (442 lb-ft) to get the car to 60 mph in under 6 seconds on the way to a top speed of 139 mph.
The Q7 is more about creature comfort than fuel economy, though, and it cossets is driver and passengers in a cocoon of luxury that few other cars can match. Ever since the Tesla Model S hit the streets, a large center display with ultra-crisp resolution is absolutely necessary and the Q7 does not disappoint in this regard. It features a voice activated screen powered by a Tegra 30 graphics chip from NVIDIA. It also comes with a bespoke Audi tablet computer for rear seat passengers to use. A large sunroof is available, as are ultra-plush heated seats with massage function.
Don’t even ask what the Q7 e-Tron will cost when and if it reaches America. The world’s car makers seem to have gone mad for massively expensive so-called “sporty” cars that allow wealthy patrons to careen about in sumptuous surroundings while smiling smugly to themselves about how eco-friendly their cars are compared to the lowly Toyotas and Hondas they are forced to share the roadways with. Anyone who thinks the Q7 or the similar Mercedes V Class V-ision e have anything to do with protecting the environment is practicing the fine art of self-delusion. But that won’t prevent Audi from selling ever last one they can weld, screw and bolt together.