Plug-in Audi Q7 e-tron will get your three-tonne boat clean into the water
Let's say that you re in the market for a large luxury SUV. After all, a lot of people are leaning in that direction these days.
You probably have a family and you quite often like to throw the boat on the back and head away for the weekend.
But what if you also fancy the idea of an electric vehicle (EV) for the daily commute? Something that you can just plug in overnight, to handle the daily grind in a guilt-free fashion.
That would mean a second vehicle, right? A big SUV for the family and something smaller and electric for the commute.
Well, think again, then Audi has the vehicle for you: the Q7 e-tron.
The Q7 e-tron is the world's first plug-in diesel hybrid. It sits below the mighty SQ7 in the local Q7 range in terms of price, power and performance, but it is (so far) unique in the New Zealand market by offering not only a 56km pure electric range in EV mode, but also the ability to tow 3500kg on a braked trailer.
The Q7 e-tron packs a 94kW/350Nm electric motor powered by a 17.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack that shares the motivational duties with a 190kW/600Nm 3.0-litre turbo diesel V6, hooked up to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The combined peak total output is 275Nm of power and 700Nm of torque, which will punt the Q7 e-tron from a standstill to the legal limit in just 6.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 230kmh in hybrid mode, or 135kmh in pure EV mode.
The e-tron is capable of running as a pure EV for up to 56km, which is more than the average Kiwi daily commute; with the diesel assisting, the range balloons to more than 1000km (if you are gentle, of course).
Hook a trailer on the back and the Q7 e-tron automatically detects it when the lights are connected and adjusts its rear air suspension for towing.
It will pull the full 3500kg in electric mode as well as hybrid mode (although, much like any other vehicle, your range is reduced). With 700Nm on tap - the electric motor's 350Nm is virtually from a standstill and the diesel V6's 650Nm kicks in at just 1250rpm - it makes light work of it too.
On the launch Audi hooked a 2500kg boat on the back of one of the vehicles for the media to try and it handled that with ease, as well as eerie silence. Not only did it have the boat on the back, it was also fully loaded with five adults, putting the total weight of car, boat and passengers to well over 5000kg.
While the e-tron has all the towing capacity and even more performance than a standard Q7 V6, it does lack one thing. Or rather, two things: the rearmost two seats.
The battery pack takes up the space usually reserved for the third row of seats in a Q7, but it does still retain the 650 litres of cargo capacity in the rear.
The Q7 e-tron is available in a single specification for $158,400. Being second from top in the Q7 range, it does come with quite the list of standard specification for that money as well.
It comes standard with a 7.5-metre long charging cord with both a three-pin 10-amp plug and a single phase 16-amp industrial plug, 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive air suspension, Audi's full driver assist system that includes adaptive cruise control with traffic jam assist, lane assist, pre-sense collision avoidance, side assist and high beam assist, front and rear parking sensors, a 360 degree and rear view camera, LED headlights, taillights and daytime running lights, rain sensing wipers, triple zone climate control, Audi's 12.3-inch Virtual Cockpit screen, keyless entry and start, heated electric front seats, leather upholstery and an interior LED lighting package.
Of course, there is also a fairly hefty list of options available as well.
As remarkable as the Q7 e-tron is, the most surprising thing is how much like a normal Q7 it feels.
Powerful, composed and superbly comfortable, the e-tron makes no demand on the driver to change the way they drive to achieve some deeply impressive fuel consumption figures - obviously nothing at all if you just commute on electricity and plug it in regularly, but as low as 1.8 litres per 100km for a Combined cycle average.
The Q7 e-tron's automatic hybrid mode is particularly clever at making the most of both the battery power and diesel on a trip (even around town) if you use the satellite navigation - it will use the information from the navigation to figure out where it can use either power source most efficiently, and Audi recommends using the navigation even when you know where you are going so that the car can be at its most economical.