When the bonnet of the Audi Q7 hybrid is first opened, there are no immediate visible signs of its hybrid nature. The 4.2-litre eight-cylinder power unit takes up the entire engine compartment, with no trace of either an electric motor or a battery.
The V8 engine is taken from the latest Audi V-engine range whose trademark characteristics include a cylinder angle of 90 degrees and cylinder spacing of 90 millimetres. A further distinguishing feature is the chain-driven camshaft. Unlike the conventionally powered models, the auxiliary air conditioning compressor and power steering pump units in the Q7 hybrid are powered electrically to ensure their continued operability when the vehicle is driving in pure electric mode.
The V8 under the bonnet of the Q7 hybrid incorporates the same FSI direct-injection petrol technology featured in the RS 4 engine. This marks the first ever use in a series-production eight-cylinder engine of a technology which has powered the Audi R8 Le Mans racing car to five victories.
FSI engines are more powerful and dynamic than conventional indirect-injection units whilst at the same time being a model of fuel economy. The V8 engine was retuned prior to being fitted in the Audi Q7. The new engine's credentials now include beefy torque delivery right up to the red line as well as agile responsiveness, all combined with economical running.
These characteristics are partnered by a prodigious output of 257 kW/350 bhp at 6,800 rpm plus a peak torque of 440 Nm at 3,500 rpm.
Placing a further 200 Newton-metres of torque and 32 kW of power on tap, the electric motor is integrated into the driveline in the ideal position, between the V8 engine and the automatic transmission's torque converter. It is linked up to the FSI engine via a separating clutch that allows the vehicle to be propelled by either one of the drive units alone or by both acting in unison.
This solution makes the most economical use possible of the space available, meaning that it does not impinge upon the passenger compartment in any way. Like the standard-production version it is derived from, the Q7 hybrid offers up to three rows of seats and a spacious luggage compartment.
The electric motor draws its energy from a battery system housed beneath the luggage compartment floor at the rear of the vehicle. A voltage transducer that supplies power to the vehicle's electrical system can also be found here. The tyre mobility system for repairing punctures has been incorporated next to the battery compartment.
When measured against earlier generations of hybrid vehicles, the electric motor and nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery are veritable lightweights, with the study only weighing in at 140 kilograms more than the standard-production model, an increase of less than seven percent.
The equipment, data and prices stated here refer to the model range offered for sale in Germany. Subject to amendment; errors and omissions excepted.