Audi has recently allowed Autocar to sample its hydrogen-drive Audi A7 fuel cell prototype.

Company engineers say that they have much faith in hydrogen as fuel because it can be created by using energy from wind turbines to ‘crack’ water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The A7 h-tron is powered by a fuel cell stack mounted in the nose, which is backed up by a 8.8kWh lithium battery under the boot floor. The four hydrogen storage thanks are mounted in the centre tunnel, and in front and behind the rear axle.

Drive goes to all four wheels, with twin electric motors on both axles. Each motor is good for 85bhp and 199lb ft of torque.

The interior of the h-tron is almost identical to the production A7 models. Once underway, it is nearly silent with only the distant hum of the air blower force-feeding the fuel cell stack as the only mechanical noise penetrating the cabin.

As you might expect, the h-tron is brisk, very smooth and well-balanced. The latter is thanks to the drivetrain components being distributed along the length of the car as well as the all-wheel drive operation.

It’s not as furiously rapid as a Tesla Model S, but the h-tron shows that hydrogen power for upmarket cars is closer than you might think.