Think plug-in car, and you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re the antithesis of the mighty V-6 engine.
In fact when it comes to plug-in hybrids, there’s an unwritten rule which almost expects it to combine a moderately-sized electric motor with a small capacity four, three, or perhaps even two cylinder engine for the perfect mix of frugality, environmental kindness and range-anxiety beating backup power.
But Audi’s upcoming plug-in hybrid joins a growing trend of plug-in hybrid drivetrains being used to turn a powerful performance car into a tofu-munching tree-hugger just when you want it to.
According to AutoExpress, Volkswagen’s luxury brand Audi is about to launch a plug-in version of its A8 sedan kitted out with both an electric motor and a powerful 3.0-litre V-6 Diesel engine.
For some purists, we can think the horror of making a V-6 engine a diesel engine is almost too much to stomach. Adding a plug-in hybrid drivetrain on top might just possibly be one step too far for others. Yet the logicality of combining a diesel V-6 engine and a plug-in hybrid drivetrain isn’t as far-fetched as it might seem.
For a start, diesel engines are known for their high fuel economy and low-end torque, making them great for duties which require lots of low-end grunt. What they’re not so good at, however, is high performance.
Meanwhile, electric motors are known for their instant torque from standstill, ability to provide power instantaneously, and compact dimensions.
Combine the two, and you’re left with an impressive 368 horsepower and more than 516 pound feet of torque, says Audi board member Dr Ulrich Hackenberg.
For the time being, Audi hasn’t released performance figures for the A8 e-Tron, but has confirmed that range in all-electric mode should be around 30 miles per charge. That’s about the same range found in the Audi A3 e-Tron Sportback plug-in hybrid, which is due to launch this autumn in Europe.
Of course, it’s also worth pointing out that while the combination of a V-6 diesel engine with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain is relatively new, german automakers are no stranger to plug-in V-6 engined cars: both the Porsche Panamera plug-in hybrid and the Mercedes-Benz S600 plug-in hybrid pair V-6 engines with plug-in hybrid drivetrains.
Naturally, not all plug-in fans will feel the need for a V-6 engine polluting their plug-in fun, but it’s worth remembering that the A8, like the Panamera Plug-in hybrid and soon-to-launch Mercedes Benz S600 PHEV, aren’t designed for plug-in fans. They’re designed for regular car buyers who don’t feel ready to dump the pump just yet.
And in that context, we can’t wait to see how the Audi A8 e-tron — and a possible Audi A6 and Audi A7 plug-in hybrid variant using the same engine — sell.
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