Diesel-lovin' Audi is slowly, slowly coming to grips with this whole hybrid thing. Earlier this year, the "We're not against hybrids" automaker finally gave out some real information about its hybrid Q5 (after years of teases and killing the program once,) and we saw the A6 hybrid at the Detroit Auto Show in January. Today, Audi is making good on the promise it made at the Geneva Motor Show in 2010 when it showed off a thinly disguised hybrid A8 concept.

Due out in 2012 (coincidentally, the 15th anniversary of the Toyota Prius), the A8 hybrid should appeal to customers who crave the German automaker's style and dislike stopping for petrol every third day. The A8 hybrid uses a 2.0 TFSI engine and an electric motor to crank out a peak output of 180 kW (245 horsepower) and 480 Nm (345.03 lb-ft) of torque. Audi says all that power and style will come with 37 mpg (U.S.), which doesn't put the A8 at the top of the hybrid efficiency pack – remember, the A8 is huge – but it beats the pants off of the gas-only A8, which the EPA rates at 18/28/21 (city/highway/combined) mpg.

Even better for late night stealth missions to the golf course, the A8 hybrid can go three kilometers (1.86 miles) and up to 60 km/h (37.28 mph) using nothing but energy stored in its 1.3 kWh lithium-ion battery. Once the luxury sedan is up to speed, it can move down the highway at speeds of up to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) on battery power, too. These are all good numbers (if only estimations from Audi, for now), and we eagerly await the chance to see how the A8 Hybrid operates in the real world. Until that time, check out the gallery below and read more details in the press release available after the jump.

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Consistently efficient – the Audi A8 hybrid

The luxury sedan with hybrid drive is on its way in 2012
245 hp system output, fuel consumption under 6.4 liters per 100 km
Four-cylinder gasoline engine, powerful electric motor and lithium-ion battery

The power of a six-cylinder model, the fuel consumption of a four-cylinder version: Audi will be starting series production of the A8 hybrid in 2012. Its gasoline engine – a 2.0 TFSI – and an electric motor develop peak output of 180 kW (245 hp) and 480 Nm (345.03 lb-ft) of torque. Average fuel consumption is below 6.4 liters per 100 km (36.75 US mpg). The sedan can travel at speeds of up to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) on electric power alone, and cover around three kilometers (1.86 miles) with zero local emissions at a constant speed of 60 km/h (37.28 mph).

The Audi flagship model is designed as a highly efficient parallel hybrid. The 2.0 TFSI, which has been modified in some areas, generates an output of 155 kW (211 hp) and 350 Nm (258.15 lb-ft) of torque, which is available between 1,500 and 4,200 rpm. The combustion engine works together with a disc-shaped electric motor which develops 40 kW (54 hp) and 210 Nm (154.89 lb-ft).

The permanent magnet synchronous motor is mounted in the space usually occupied by the torque converter in front of the modified eight-speed tiptronic. A multi-plate clutch that operates in an oil bath connects or disconnects the electric motor and the TFSI engine. The clutch operates ultra-precisely and gently in all situations. The highly comfortable and fast-shifting hybrid transmission guides the torque to the front wheels; with its wide gear spread it contributes to the efficiency of the Audi A8 hybrid.

The short-term system output of 180 kW (245 hp) and the system torque of 480 Nm (354.03 lb-ft) ensure highly agile performance. The Audi A8 hybrid reaches 100 km/h (62.14 mph) in 7.7 seconds from a standing start and has a top speed of 235 km/h (146.02 mph). Its fuel consumption in the EU cycle is less than 6.4 liters per 100 km (36.75 US mpg), and CO2 emissions are below 148 grams per km (238.18 g/mile). Please note that all figures are provisional.

The Audi A8 hybrid can drive at up to 100 km/h (62.14 mph) purely on electric power and has a range of up to three kilometers (1.86 miles) at a constant 60 km/h (37.28 mph). This gives the driver the choice of three modes: The EV characteristic map gives priority to the electric drive, while the D mode efficiently controls both the engine and the electric motor. The S mode and the tiptronic gate are designed for a sporty driving style. The hybrid sedan has five operating states: with the TFSI engine alone, with electric drive only or in hybrid mode; recuperation and boosting are also possible. Two displays show the driver all operating modes in detail.

The lithium-ion battery, which weighs 36.7 kilograms (80.91 lb), is located in a crash-proof area in the trunk. It provides 1.3 kWh of nominal energy and up to 40 kW of power. Two different methods are used to air-cool the battery, depending on need: with air blown from the passenger compartment by a fan and via a separate cooling circuit coupled to the automatic air conditioning system. The battery is thus kept within the temperature window required for it to perform to its full potential over a wide range. The electric motor and the compact power electronics which serve as a controller between the electric motor and the battery are water-cooled.

In visual terms, the Audi A8 hybrid is distinguished by subtle details. The ten spokes of its alloy wheels – which have a diameter of 18 inches as standard and 19 inches as an option – are reminiscent of turbine blades. The body features hybrid badges, and Arctic Silver is available as an exclusive paint finish. The metallic paint finish, three-zone automatic air conditioning, LED headlights and the BOSE sound system come standard.

Thanks to the brand's ultra-lightweight construction expertise, the Audi A8 hybrid will be one of the lightest sedans in its category. Its ASF (Audi Space Frame) body is made entirely of aluminum, while the B-pillars are of hot-shaped, ultra-high-strength steel. Weighing just 231 kilograms (509.27 lb), it is roughly 40 percent lighter than a comparable steel construction.