Audi is making a serious push into electrification, its new e-tron SUV just one of the pure battery-electric vehicles coming to market during the next several years – but the automaker also has big plans for plug-in hybrids, the new A6 55 TFSI e Quattro one of five PHEVs set to join its line-up before the end of the year.
The list also will include plug-in versions of the Audi A7, A8, Q5 and Q7 model lines. They will share a gas-electric driveline capable of punching out a combined 362 horsepower.
While there’s growing pressure on manufacturers to switch to all-electric drivetrain technology, Audi is one of a number of manufacturers who see plug-in hybrids as a good bridge technology capable of operating in battery-only mode during commutes and while running errands, and then switching to gas power for longer trips.
“The drive concept of the Audi A6 55 TFSI e quattro is designed so that customers can do most of their daily driving electrically and therefore with zero local emissions and nearly without sound,” the company explained.
Unlike the new e-tron, the A6 e Quattro does not use a unique platform, sharing its underlying architecture with the conventionally powered A6 sedan. The 14.1 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery is tucked into the rear but “is integrated such that the luggage compartment offers level and convenient luggage space,” the automaker said in a statement.
The primary motivation comes from a 2.0-liter turbo-four gas engine that delivers a peak 248 horsepower. It’s paired with a 141 horsepower electric motor integrated into the seven-speed S tronic transmission. Because each power source peaks at a different speed, the system maxes out at 362 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque.
The A6 e Quattro belies the classic image of a “green” car as slow and stodgy, sprinting from 0-100 kmh, or 62 mph, in 5.6 seconds, with a top speed of 155 mph.
In purely electric mode, it can top out at around 84 mph and, driven at more normal speeds delivers an estimated 32.9 miles range using batteries alone, according to the European WLTP test cycle. The U.S. figure will be less using the more demanding EPA tests, but still should come in as one of the longer-range PHEVs currently on the market.
The hybridized drive system, as with conventional Quattro models, sends power to all four wheels.
The electric side of the powertrain allows for Level 2, 240-volt charging and can go from drained to fully recharged in about 2.5 hours. The A6 e Quattro does not have Level 3 quick-charge capabilities.
The new PHEV uses “predictive” management when a destination is plugged into the navigation system to determine when best to operate in all-electric mode. That could become increasingly important in the years ahead, as some cities, such as London and Beijing, may limit access to vehicles operating in full zero-emission mode.
But the ability to go back to hybrid or pure gas modes means motorists will be able to travel as they would with a conventional vehicle if they don’t have time to plug in or simply have a drained battery.
Audi is just launching pre-sales of the A6 55 TFSI e Quattro in Germany before a broader roll-out. Pricing is 68,850 euros, or $76,830. The automaker has not announced plans for a U.S. launch yet.
The five new plug-in hybrids will join a growing line-up of Audi electrified models that now includes the brand’s first long-range electric, the e-tron. At least two other BEVs are known to be in the works, including the high-performance e-tron GT.