Audi engineers must have had an awful Christmas season. That’s because while the rest of us were sipping eggnog in front of a roaring fire, they were putting the finishing touches on not just one or two new plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models but rather four: A8, A7, A6, and Q5.
The marketing team must have been burning the midnight oil, too, because the four new PHEVs usher in another new moniker to the German automaker’s naming scheme. Previous Audi PHEVs received the e-tron suffix. Going forward, however, that will be saved for the brand’s all-electric models. New PHEVs now wear ‘TFSI e’ badges.
Forget that drearily technical nomenclature, though. These four new luxury plug-ins are actually pretty exciting. Let’s start with their shared features first.
Making It All Work
A8, A7, A6, and Q5 are all powered by turbocharged gasoline engines, which aid an electric motor embedded in the transmission. Electric power is stored in an onboard 14.1-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack mounted beneath the vehicle’s rear cargo area.
All models offer drivers three power strategy modes: EV, Auto, and Hold. These are in addition to the four drive modes: Comfort, Efficiency, Auto, and Dynamic. The previous modes affect efficiency while the latter alter steering and suspension stiffness. Suffice it to say, owners will be able to dial in their Audi PHEVs to suit their driving and efficiency tastes.
Giving The Driver A Boost
Upon pressing of the ignition button, the new TFSI e models all start in EV mode. On the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), the cars are rated at a 40-kilometer (24-mile) all-electric range.
Should the driver wish to save that lump of electrically driven range for later, they can simply pop the car over to Hold mode. And the vehicle will use the gasoline engine to maintain battery levels. This, though, is fairly standard for most plug-in hybrids. Where the Audi TFSI e models get tricky is in plotting of efficiency.
The car will use both onboard energy data as well as navigation information to plan out how the driver can travel most efficiently to their destination. When the car calculates the driver should lift off the accelerator pedal, a digital message will be shown in the instrument cluster. At the same time, it activates a haptic feedback pulse in the throttle pedal.
I’m sure this is pretty useful for achieving the most efficient trip possible. But it also feels terribly bossy. I am not sure every driver is going to love having their car buzzing their foot until they lift it off the accelerator pedal.
Lift off the accelerator when the transmission gear indicator is in ‘D’ and the car will coast. If you lift while the gear selector is in ‘S,’ however, the in-transmission electric motor will decelerate the car and regenerate some energy back into the batteries.
Same goes for the brake pedal. All light braking is handled by the electric motor’s regenerative braking mode. Hard braking will be split between the motor and the traditional friction brakes behind each wheel.
Looking The Part
Styling is where the TFSI e models are most differentiated from one another—you know, aside from their distinctive body styles.
The A8 TFSI e is based upon the luxurious long-wheelbase A8 L. The A6 and A7 come standard with sport suspension and S line interior packages. Additionally, they receive the black styling package with red-painted brake calipers and darkened trim and windows.
Customers will be able to place orders for the new Audi TFSI e model of their choice during 2019. Pricing will be available closer to the vehicles’ respective on-sale dates.