Audi plans to launch a hybrid version of its biggest luxury car, the A8, in 2012. The A8 hybrid is designed to provide the performance of a six-cylinder car while sipping fuel like a four-cylinder car.
The majority of the A8 hybrid’s propulsion comes from a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four engine good for 211 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. It works in tandem with a disc-shaped electric motor rated for 54 hp and 155 lb-ft. The motor is mounted in place of a torque converter between the engine and the eight-speed automatic transmission. Peak combined power from the engine and motor is 245 hp and 345 lb-ft.Electrical energy is stored in a 40 kW lithium-ion battery located in the trunk.
Audi says the A8 hybrid returns the equivalent of 37 mpg in preliminary testing. The hybrid can drive at up to 62 mph on electric power alone.Keep your speed limited to 37 mph, however, and it can travel 1.86 miles using only electricity. With both drive units working in tandem, 62 mph can be reached in 7.7 seconds.
For reference, the non-hybrid A8 is EPA-rated at 17/27 mpg (city/highway), and reaches 62 mph in 5.7 seconds, according to Audi.
The A8 hybrid will offer three driving modes: EV prioritizes all-electric propulsion, D is a normal blend of efficiency and power, and S is meant for sportier acceleration. Unlike the A8s sold in our market, the A8 hybrid is only offered with front-wheel-drive. To set it apart from regular A8 models, the hybrid gets unique, turbine-style 18- or 19-inch wheels; an exclusive Arctic Silver paint color; LED headlights; and plenty of hybrid badges.
The Audi A8 hybrid is scheduled to begin production in 2012. It’s unknown whether the car will make its way to American dealerships. Audi does plan, however, to bring a diesel-powered A8 to the U.S. market next year.