Road Test

Road Test: 2012 Audi A8 Hybrid

December 3, 2012

Audi A8 hybrid 2012_07The big and luxurious Audi A8 can now be ordered also with the hybrid technology. Powered by a four-cylinder petrol engine, the new hybrid provides much smaller CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than the other petrol-engined A8 versions. The A8 hybrid offers a new possibility to be eco-friendly and drive a luxury car, but unfortunately it is not all perfect.

The new A8 hybrid is a parallel hybrid with a petrol engine and an electric motor. The four-cylinder 2.0 TFSI produces 211 hp and 350 Nm (258.15 lb-ft) of torque. The combustion engine works together with a disc-shaped electric motor. The permanent magnet synchronous motor is mounted in the space usually occupied by the torque converter in front of the modified eight-speed tiptronic automatic transmission. A multi-plate clutch connects or disconnects the electric motor and the combustion engine when needed. This full hybrid can be driven with the combustion engine alone, with the electric motor only or both power sources working together.

The electric motor delivers 54 hp and 210 Nm (154.89 lb-ft). In the purely electric mode the maximum range is three kilometres at a constant speed of 60 km/h. When you run out of electricity or you need to accelerate fast, the combustion engine comes alive automatically and almost unnoticed. Thanks to the effective recuperation and regenerative braking, the battery also recharges quite quickly especially when driving in the city. Top speed in the purely electric drive is 100 km/h.

The hybrid comes with a new dashboard display. Instead of the rev counter, there is now a Power Meter, which indicates the hybrid system’s total output on a scale of 0 to 100 percent. There is also an additional instrument which displays the charge level of the lithium-ion battery. The hybrid system’s energy flow display shows the current driving mode and it can be shown also on the MMI display to offer information about the hybrid system to the passengers. The lithium-ion battery pack is located in a crash-proof area in the trunk, where it takes part of the cargo space.

The four-cylinder engine sounds a bit too small power source for a big car, but thanks to the extra torque of the electric motor, the performance of the A8 hybrid is quite good. When the petrol engine and the electric motor work together in the boost mode, you get a short-term maximum output of 245 horsepower and 480 Nm (354.03 lb-ft) of torque. The A8 hybrid can sprint from zero to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds and reach top speed of 235 km/h. The only problem with the Audi A8 hybrid is that, unlike the other A8 versions, the hybrid is only available as a front-wheel drive. Front-wheel drive improves fuel economy, but in the winter time you are going to miss that extra traction of the four-wheel drive. Even on a wet tarmac, the huge torque of the hybrid system causes the front wheels with studless winter tyres to spin quite easily before the traction control steps in.

The fuel consumption of the A8 hybrid in the EU cycle is 6,3 l/100km, which makes it the most economical petrol-engined A8 model. The front-wheel drive 3.0 TDI, which is available on some markets, is even more fuel efficient, and the difference between the hybrid and the 3.0 TDI quattro is only 0,1 litres. Hybrid is at its best in the city, where the electric drive is most effective. In the city the hybrid should be much more economical than the diesel, but on the highway it goes vice versa. When driving nicely, you can get the fuel consumption below 7,0 litres/100km, but the average consumption goes easily to over 8 litres.

I am not quite sure what to think about this new A8 hybrid. The hybrid system works fine and even the performance is quite good, but there is still something missing. It is not as economical as you would think, and when the weather gets worse, you start to miss the four-wheel drive. I’m always a fan of a turbocharged petrol engine and the electric drive, but in this case, I think I would still choose the 3.0 TDI quattro instead of this new hybrid.

Specification

Engine

  • Petrol
  • 4-cylinder
  • 1984cc
  • Turbo
  • Hybrid

Power

  • 180 kW (245 hp)

Torque

  • 480 Nm

Transmission

  • 8-speed automatic
  • AWD

0-100km/h / 0-62mph

  • 7.7 seconds

Top speed

  • 235 km/h

Fuel consumption

  • 6.3 l/100km

CO2 emissions

  • 147 g/km

Audi A8 hybrid 2012_09