The push towards full electrification is relentless right now but for some people, owning a full electric car just doesn’t work for them. But they might want to run on electric power for those shorter journeys. That’s where plug-in hybrids (PHEV) come in. The Q7 55 TFSIe from Audi is one of the latest iterations of the breed and we spent a week with one to find out if it’s any good.
The Audi Q7 55 TFSIe is quite a mouthful. Translated it means it’s a Q7 (Audi’s biggest SUV) with a petrol V6 engine and a small electric motor that combine to give around 380hp. Like most PHEVs, you can use it in electric only mode and in our test that was good for around 27-31 miles depending on driving style. Surprisingly it doesn’t feel slow in EV only mode. The Q7 is a big and heavy vehicle so the fact that around town and on the dual carriageway the electric motor is more than enough most of the time is quite an achievement!
I wanted to know if the hybrid element will make the car more efficient over a decent length journey so I travelled the 120 miles from my house to my mother’s and back. Before leaving I completely depleted the battery so I just used the V6. I managed a respectable 31mpg over a mix of roads. On the way back I averaged just shy of 37mpg. Not a huge increase but I effectively did the first 30 miles of my journey without the engine kicking in once. If you spend most of your time on the motorway then a diesel is probably a better option but for someone who does mostly short journeys and can charge at home then the hybrid drive makes a lot of sense.
The rest of the car is fairly standard Q7. It’s big and imperious on the road so if you’re looking for a big car then this might be for you. The ride is as good as you’d expect and coupled with the electric drive, it’s very calm and serene to drive. That is the beauty of electrification. It makes luxury cars feel even more refined. Somehow it manages to make you more relaxed. Heavy traffic seems less of an inconvenience and getting from a to b is a more laid back experience. I think this is true of every electric car I’ve driven but in something like the Q7, the effect is amplified.
Inside the Q7 is standard Audi quality. The reaction from people who step inside the latest Audi interiors is always the same. They are amazed at the quality and wowed by the tech. A modern Mercedes interior might feel a little more special but there’s something about the latest Audis that make it so nice to live with. The design is modern but not overpowering and it’s easy to jump from one Audi to the next as the MMI system is largely the same from car to car.
You really need to try one of these to understand the difference the electric drive can make. It really isn’t for everyone. If you spend all day on the motorway then it’s probably not the best option but if most of your journeys are to the shops or to drop the kids off at school then it makes total sense. The battery capacity is enough for most short journeys and the added bonus of extra refinement makes it a compelling option. I personally think this application may work best in something like the Q5 but if you need the size and space of a Q7 then it might just be for you.