SUVs – or 4x4s to those who’d rather not buy into the US nomenclature – aren’t renowned for their eco credentials; traditionally considered to be gas-guzzling extravagances that belch out CO2 in great big lumps.

Audi could be set to change the perceived wisdom surrounding off-roaders with its new Q7 e-tron, which is capable of a claimed 166.2mpg.

Unveiled today at the Geneva motor show, the new model is the latest to be launched under Audi’s ‘e-tron’ badge, which encompasses electric and plug-in hybrid models.

However, the new Q7 is the first e-tron model to be fitted with a diesel hybrid drivetrain, which sees the brand’s familiar 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 TDI engine mated to an electric motor for a combined 368bhp – enough to get this near two-tonne luxury SUV from 0-62mph in a respectable 6.0 seconds, and on to a top speed of 140mph.

Those performance figures are rather astonishing in the face of its parsimonious fuel consumption rating. The Q7 e-tron emits CO2 at a rate of just 50g/km, making it exempt from both vehicle tax and the London Congestion Charge under the current rules.

This is made possible by the e-tron’s boot-mounted battery pack, which allows for a range of 34 miles driving emissions-free on electricity alone. Combined with a full tank of fuel, drivers can expect a driving range of around 876 miles.

The Q7 e-tron is also the first production hybrid vehicle to be fitted with a heat pump. Normally seen in building technology, the system collects waste heat energy from engine components and uses it to heat the cabin, boosting overall efficiency.

The e-tron will join the rest of the new Q7 range, which includes regular 3.0-litre petrol and diesel models, and is set to go on sale towards the end of 2015.

Can’t wait that long? Search for a previous-generation Audi Q7 here.

Daljinder Nagra


March 3, 2015

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