Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro a go for the U.S. -- arrival time uncertain
Announced in Detroit and officially unveiled in Geneva, the Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro will be coming to the U.S. market. Several questions do remain about the most fuel-efficient member of automaker's 7-passenger SUV lineup, the most pertinent being exactly when we'll see it here. While the arrival of this new plug-in hybrid remains in the hands of the executive board of Audi AG, we do know it will retain most of the key features found it the Euro-spec variant. An Audi USA spokesman said it will include the existing 3.0-liter turbodiesel-electric powertrain. Although the parent company also is developing a Q7 e-tron with a 2.0-liter gasoline engine for China, our source indicated there are currently no plans to bring that version to America.
Visually, the new Q7 e-tron Quattro shares its exterior design with the conventional model. The differences are found in its bolder Singleframe grille and air intake which are framed by bespoke 3-dimensional headlamps with a "double-arrow" light signature. The Q7 e-tron kit also includes 19-inch alloy wheels and a modified rear diffuser. Inside of its spacious, well-appointed cabin, the e-tron Quattro boasts the same premium trim elements and technology found in a range-topping conventional Audi Q7 including the new Virtual Cockpit instrument display, MMI Navigation Plus with Audi Connect, LTE and a Wi-Fi hotspot as well as a Bose premium audio system. For e-tron duty, the infotainment displays screens that track the vehicle's fuel/electricity use, battery-charge status and range. The e-tron setup also permits remote control of battery charging cycles and cabin temperature preconditioning as well as other energy-saving functions.
Quick, efficient and fun
Audi's first diesel-powered plug-in hybrid with all-wheel drive, the new Q7 e-tron Quattro is motivated by a 3.0-liter TDI V6 paired with a disc-shaped electric motor that's integrated into its 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. The former turns out 255 horses and 443 lb-ft of torque while the latter develops 126 ponies along with 258 lb-ft of twist. This output collectively totals 369 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, sufficient to let the Q7 e-tron sprint from 0-60 mph in less than 6.0 seconds while still returning the equivalent of 138.4 mpg on the European NEDC cycle. A liquid-cooled 17.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack located beneath the Q7 e-tron's rear cargo floor stores enough charge to let this advanced parallel hybrid travel nearly 35 miles under pure EV power. Audi estimates its total range at 876 miles. Along with conventional regenerative braking and the ability to fully decouple both its engine and motor and actively "coast," the Q7 e-tron features a sophisticated hybrid management package with four operating modes and also includes a forward-looking "predictive efficiency assistant" that uses input from its GPS navigation and on-board cameras to further optimize energy use by anticipating road and traffic conditions.
Structurally, the new e-tron Quattro benefits from the same comprehensive redesign found in the Gen II Q7. A stronger, stiffer and significantly lighter chassis has a lower center of gravity, more responsive steering, a redesigned suspension system that offers air springs as an option. Programmable Audi Drive Select endows the Q7 e-tron with outstanding dynamic character. The driving experience is further enhanced by adaptive cruise control and a full suite of the latest safety/driver assist features as well as options that include a head-up display, climate control comfort seats with a massage function and Bang & Olufsen premium audio. European sales of the new Audi Q7 e-tron Quattro are set to being in spring 2016. With luck, we could see it here late next year.
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