The car is not in production yet and customers won’t get theirs until late in 2012 but it does represent a shift in the company’s thinking, as their flagship model will be fitted with a four cylinder 2.0-litre engine for the first time, albeit alongside an electric motor.
The TFSI engine delivers 211 hp and 350 Nm with the electric motor providing a 54 hp and 210 Nm of torque. The CO2 figure is less than 148 g/km, an economy that is helped by its ASF (Audi Space Frame) body, which is made almost entirely of aluminium, with just the B-pillars being made out of steel. The body shell weighs 231 kgs, about 40 per cent lighter than one made from steel.
It remains to be seen whether the traditional A8 customer will be impressed with the car as performance will be adequate, rather than strong, with a predicted top speed of 146 mph and a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) time of around 7.7 seconds. However, it will be capable of travelling at up to 62 mph (100 km/h) on electric power alone, making it ideal for relaxed and refined city use providing you don’t want to go further than 186 miles, the maximum range on electric power alone.
The big Audi has five operating modes: with only the petrol engine, with electric drive only or in hybrid mode; recuperation and boosting are also possible while two displays keep the driver informed of what’s happening and when.
A tiptronic gearbox takes the strain out of changing gear. Distinctive alloy wheels tell the world that you care about the environment, as does the exclusive sliver paint finish.