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Even with its impressive frugality put to one side, the 60 TFSIe feels like much more of a luxury product than its diesel range-mate
Neil Winn - Autocar
17 April 2020

What is it?

It might come as something of a surprise, but if we had to pick a car that best demonstrates the virtues of electrification, this might be it.

Why? Well, judged solely on what a luxury limousine needs to deliver, namely supreme refinement and smoothness for the passenger, and low-running costs and low emissions for the owner, the new A8 60 TFSIe is not just simply on a par with its petrol and diesel equivalents, it’s better. 

But then again, it should be. Both BMW and Mercedes have had plug-in versions of their respective limos on sale for the past couple of years, giving the engineers at Ingolstadt both something to aim for and also the opportunity to make use of the newest hybrid tech on the market. 

That tech includes a 126bhp ‘permanently excited’ electric motor (like a Porsche Taycan) paired to a more conventional 335bhp 3.0-litre turbocharged V6 petrol engine. The total combined output of 443bhp is sent to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox, resulting in some pretty punchy performance. 0-62mph takes just 4.9 seconds (quicker than both the S560e and 745e) and given the run of a German Autobahn it will accelerate up to an electronically-limited 155mph. 

However, with most 60 TFSIe’s destined to spend their lives ferrying high flying execs around crowded city centres, we suspect an all-electric range of 28.6 miles (compared to 25 for the Merc and 28-31 for the BMW) will be of more interest to buyers than outright performance. 

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What's it like?

Indeed, with a fully charged battery, the plug-in A8 to all intents and purposes functions like a fully electric vehicle; Audi’s ‘permanently excited’ unit having enough poke for most situations. It’ll even accelerate up to 84mph on battery power alone, making for a beautifully serene experience for passengers, with no engine noise or jerky gearchanges disturbing the relaxed ambiance. 

When the V6 petrol engine does eventually kick-in, the transition from electric to petrol power is seamless to the point of being nearly undetectable. This, combined with a distinct lack of wind noise, makes the manner in which it accelerates somewhat deceptive, the 60 TFSIe gaining speed like an A380 at takeoff. 

With all those batteries onboard, however, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that 60 TFSIe isn’t exactly a driver’s car: it wallows a little on its standard air suspension through bends, the steering is accurate but devoid of feel and the brakes can be a little inconsistent in their operation. Ultimately, this is a car that wants you to drive like a chauffeur. So much so in fact, that it’ll even give you lessons. 

Working away behind the scenes, the 60 TFSIe uses predictive navigation data to help you manage the battery’s charge, so on a short journey you’ll get plenty of electrical assistance, while on a longer one you’ll get more help from the petrol engine. The accelerator pedal will even give your right foot a nudge when approaching a lower speed limit to remind you to lift off so you can put some juice back into the battery; the system being able to recover 25kW of energy from coasting and 80kW from the brakes. 

It’s a cleverly calibrated system that not only helps improve range, but also forces you to be smoother, benefitting your passengers. And, of course, being an A8, your passengers should already be pretty relaxed thanks to the Audi’s plush interior and acres of legroom. 

Should I buy one?

Well, it all depends on how you’re going to use your A8. If you cover big motorway miles, go for one of the diesels. You won’t reap the benefits of the electrified powertrain otherwise. However, if you spend a great deal of time in a city, then the 60 TFSIe is a true no brainer. Not only is it smoother than its diesel counterpart, it's quieter than a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones and impressively frugal – we saw over 100mpg on our inner-city test route. 

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Plus, with a nearly 30 mile all-electric range and a CO2 rating of just 60g/km, the 60 TFSIe is not only congestion charge exempt, but it should also make for a relatively cheap company car, too. If those kinds of figures don’t demonstrate the virtues of electrification, we don’t know what will. 

Audi A8L 60 TFSIe specification

Where Surrey, UK Price £88,195 On sale now Engine 6cyl, 2995cc, turbo, petrol, plus electric motor Power 443bhp (combined) Torque 516lb ft (combined) Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 2330kg Top speed 155mph 0-62mph 4.9sec Fuel economy 108.6mpg CO2 60g/km Rivals Mercedes-Benz S-Class S560e, BMW 745e

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Comments
13

17 April 2020

Never mind the 100mpg short journey potential, there are two things missing from this test: 

How far will it really go on a full battery charge? And what is the typical fuel consumption on longer journeys when the battery is depleted. I'm guessing that the electric only range would be around 20 miles, and that the consumption on longer journeys would be around 30mpg or less. But why doesn't the test give us some figures? We can all look up the WLTP data - we want to know what the reality is like...

17 April 2020
LP in Brighton wrote:

Never mind the 100mpg short journey potential, there are two things missing from this test: 

How far will it really go on a full battery charge? And what is the typical fuel consumption on longer journeys when the battery is depleted. I'm guessing that the electric only range would be around 20 miles, and that the consumption on longer journeys would be around 30mpg or less. But why doesn't the test give us some figures? We can all look up the WLTP data - we want to know what the reality is like...

17 April 2020
Oops, meant to say it was probably tested under these lockdown rules

17 April 2020

On these cars, where presumably the owner isn't a complete petrol head looking for ultimate performance, but rather someone looking for lower emissions, why does the petrol engine need to be so powerful as well? Surely a 200hp unit would be more than enough?

17 April 2020
Mikey C wrote:

On these cars, where presumably the owner isn't a complete petrol head looking for ultimate performance, but rather someone looking for lower emissions, why does the petrol engine need to be so powerful as well? Surely a 200hp unit would be more than enough?

 

Agreed. I can only assume that power is cheap. It's relatively cheap to bore out cylinders and bolt on turbochargers to produce a lot more power. And modern chassis development means that current cars can handle huge amount of performance. But this is power that no owner needs or asks for. Just like those multiple electronic functions on current cars. Functions that no one wants or knows exist.

17 April 2020

You're right, power is cheap and these days with turbocharging, variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation etc, even powerful petrol engines can be made pretty efficient at low load and speeds - so there is no great penalty involved.

Plus, consider that on longer runs when the battery becomes depleted - as it surely will - the car still needs to perform well. And with 2.3 tonnes to lug along, this means the Audi "only" achieves around 145 horsepower per tonne, so arguably it isn't overpowered.    

17 April 2020
Mikey C wrote:

On these cars, where presumably the owner isn't a complete petrol head looking for ultimate performance, but rather someone looking for lower emissions, why does the petrol engine need to be so powerful as well? Surely a 200hp unit would be more than enough?

Agreed, but I suspect it's the only way they can justify the price of a PHEV i.e. the value doesn't look quite so dire when comparing it to it's performance ICE only version

17 April 2020
Mikey C wrote:

On these cars, where presumably the owner isn't a complete petrol head looking for ultimate performance, but rather someone looking for lower emissions, why does the petrol engine need to be so powerful as well? Surely a 200hp unit would be more than enough?

I agree with that but in practice, for this kind of car where refinement is also paramount, that bigger 6 gives you the seamless transition between EV and ICE running that. Since you just don't get these types of engines running so 'little' power these days you end with a lot of surplus power.

17 April 2020

This is the second or third very positive review of the A8 (this one has got 4 1/2 stars no less)

So I assume there are enough improvements to make this A8 a credible S-class competitor? 

But while its exterior design is acceptable (but nothing like the stunning design purity of the Mark 1 A8), it is its interior that is disappointing. I find the S class cabin ambience far superior.

Audi, in its emphasis on technology, or rather the expression of technology, has suppressed anything that gives the driver or occupants any visual or material delight.   

Even though (or because) VAG owns Bentley, it seems VAG wants Audi to do an anti-Bentley.

 

 

 

17 April 2020

Audi's engine numbering thing really really doesn't work.

 

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