Vital Stats

Engine:
Turbo 2.0L I4 hybrid
Power:
241 HP / 354 LB-FT
Transmission:
8-Speed Auto
0-60 Time:
7.7 Seconds
Top Speed:
146 MPH
Drivetrain:
Front-Wheel Drive
Curb Weight:
4,125 LBS
Seating:
2+3
Cargo:
10.0 CU-FT
MPG:
37.3 MPG AVG (est.)
Diesel Versus Electrons Debate Continues



When it comes to the hybrid market, we assume – as most of you probably do as well – that the United States is at the top of the list to get whatever hybrid models an automaker builds. That vision is apparently altering for the Germans, though, as Audi is not bringing this A8 Hybrid to the States, instead favoring Western Europe and particularly Asia.

The start of deliveries in Europe already commenced in May, and Asian deliveries will start by 2013 as Audi mulls bringing the long-wheelbase version there, as well as a right-hand-drive model. The choice to not invite North American consumers to the party might not be a forever sort of thing, but at least for the next few years, the plan appears to be set in stone.

To be honest, Audi's full parallel hybrid strategy, along with that of parent Volkswagen Group's larger cars and SUVs in general, isn't terribly amazing – there's no thinking going on outside of the box here. Across the entire VW corporate family, the better choice for these bigger cruisers is always the range of outstanding diesels that generally weigh less and can cost less than their hybrid brethren. Nonetheless, Audi's high-tech image demands that the brand show it can play in every alternative propulsion sector. With China being Audi's best market by far, this A8 Hybrid has that nation writ all over its business plan.
What is, however, a nice upgrade to Audi's hybrid efficiency message is that the engine in this gas-electric A8 is the widely praised 208-horsepower 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder, not just a modified V6 or V8 that would lower development costs but hike the price beyond credibility. This four-cylinder choice helps contain both the weight and the price of the project. In Germany, the A8 Hybrid sells for €70,700 after all initial taxes. A more generously equipped long-wheelbase A8 Hybrid sells for upwards of €85,400 – around $105,000 U.S. Given general pricing trends on both sides of the ocean and keeping in mind the higher equipment levels that Americans prefer (and generally get for cheap), the short-wheelbase model would translate to around $70,000 U.S.

2012 Audi A8 Hybrid headlight2012 Audi A8 Hybrid wheel2012 Audi A8 Hybrid badge2012 Audi A8 Hybrid taillight

Trunk space falls from the usual EPA-rated 13.2 cubic feet to roughly 10.0 cubes.

If that sounds oddly inexpensive, that's because the hybrid's price point in Germany is intended to sit right around that of a front-wheel-drive 201-hp A8 3.0 TDI V6, a markedly less powerful, less luxurious A8 than what is sold in North America. Coincidentally, though, the A8 Hybrid and A8 V6 TDI weigh the same at 4,125 pounds. Of course, here in the States, our base specification is nearly $80k for a 4.2-liter V8 Quattro model – at least until the promised 3.0-liter TFSI V6 arrives.

While the A8 Hybrid cannot beat the base diesel's fuel efficiency, it does average slightly lower CO2 emissions – an important distinction in Europe for taxation purposes. Acceleration to 62 mph for both cars is between 7.7 and 7.9 seconds. Where the A8 Hybrid significantly falls behind, though, is cargo room. The high placement of the 84-pound lithium-ion battery pack cuts significantly into trunk space. From the usual EPA-rated 13.2 cubic feet of space, chop things down to roughly 10.0 cubes using the EPA scale. This sort of lowbrow mounting strategy for the battery pack leaves us perplexed: Is the plan to have four adults aboard a large luxury four-door but leave them without enough luggage space? It's too compromising.

2012 Audi A8 Hybrid engine2012 Audi A8 Hybrid trunk

The A8 Hybrid could claim 37.3-mpg average city/highway per U.S. gallon.

The way the A8 Hybrid drives is understandably very numb and tranquil when done correctly and most efficiently. Push the car hard over dynamic stretches of road and you are quickly out of the car's element. This is not aided much by the front-wheel-drive platform and extremely frugal and detached-feeling electronic steering. To be fair, though, this clearly isn't a model intended for more passionate driving forays – just point it down the road and quietly go forth in the lap of luxury with little or no exterior air noise due to the 0.26 coefficient of drag.

Moments when the 2.0-liter four-cylinder switches off or on happen seamlessly, and the eight-speed Tiptronic with its integrated 52-hp electric motor is likewise creamy smooth, constantly seeking to slip into eighth gear for maximum fuel savings. Going strictly by the European cycle of efficiency ratings, the A8 Hybrid could claim 37.3-mpg average city/highway per U.S. gallon. Going by the same fudged scale, I realized an indicated 33.0-mpg average.

2012 Audi A8 Hybrid interior2012 Audi A8 Hybrid gauges2012 Audi A8 Hybrid EV button2012 Audi A8 Hybrid sill plate

The cumulative result when they are both hammering together in boost mode under high throttle is 241 hp.

Helping the standard air suspension is a set of 255/45 19-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, which, while good pieces, are probably not the most efficient rubber for what is otherwise a predominantly green-focused luxury car. On the other hand, the aerodynamic Turbine wheelset specific to the A8 Hybrid is good looking while aiding to lower wind resistance.

Between the 208-hp 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder and 52-hp electric motor, the cumulative result when they are both hammering together in boost mode under high throttle is 241 hp. The torque figure in this full-bore scenario is 354 pound-feet, much of that available from a standstill thanks to the push of the electric motor. All ancillaries that are normally run via mechanical belt drive from the 2.0-liter engine are now run electrically via various sensors that tell when things need to be actuated or not. These actuators via the high-voltage lithium-ion battery can also keep the climate control on while the engine is off in start-stop mode at traffic lights.

2012 Audi A8 Hybrid driving

If we look at the details and packaging, we'd still have to go for the base diesel.

Electric-only propulsion can happen up to 37 mph under the right (and frankly almost nonexistent) conditions, though this can only be sustained for about two miles before the conventional engine ignites. In the meantime, the two power units can do their boost thing together at up to 100 mph, at which point the electric motor cuts out of the equation. Top speed is 146 mph, legal only in Germany.

Admittedly, we are pushovers for all of the big German four-door sedans because they deliver so much authority and power-of-stance. As a passenger or driving the A8 Hybrid as parsimoniously as intended (read: as luxurious transportation and not a soul-stirring sport sedan), we can still find something to appreciate in this A8 Hybrid. But if we look at the details and packaging, we'd still have to go for the base diesel – this is one hybrid that the U.S. can live without. Now, about that 4.2-liter TDI, please...


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 66 Comments
      Hazdaz
      • 2 Years Ago
      A general comment here that I notice time and again. This A8 is FWD, which I am sure it perfectly fine for what it is. But why is it that when an American car company releases a FWD car, reviews ALWAYS feel the need to harp on that fact ad nauseam? The new Cadillac XTS is a perfect such example. Its supposedly a very nice large car aimed at a similar (but a little lower) market to this A8, but at a MUCH lower price, and all people can talk about is that its not RWD. The XTS is not a performance car. Its a big, comfy car aimed more for passenger comfort than ultimate performance. FWD is perfectly fine in a situation such as that, but it seems that almost every review for the car starts off with the journalist apologizing that its not RWD. So Audi can get a free-pass for making their A8 FWD, but Cadillac gets hammered for the same thing?
      max
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm not sure i get the point of this car, it's very efficient, yes, but at the same time people, do people that can afford this car look to save money on gas?
        Andrew B
        • 2 Years Ago
        @max
        ^ this. Someone who is buying a 70k+ car, probably doesn't care much about how much better fuel economy they can squeeze out of the car. The whole proposition of the vehicle is so far from the definition of value, it makes no sense. It kind of reminds me of some other vehicles, like the X5 ActiveHybrid. Make an extra few MPGs for the sake of more electrical components, added costs, with no efficient real world gain. *smh*
      A P
      • 2 Years Ago
      Anybody notice how AB writers are not allowed to talk about the amount of particulates the TDIs spew? Auto writers keep pushing diesels without telling folks the truth about how dirty even the "clean" diesels are. Too bad they dont have the guts to tell people the ENTIRE story about TDIs. Like how diesel fuel uses a lot more energy to produce, negating the cost savings overall? Diesel is a dead end for cars. My daughter spent last year in Italy in school and she said you could scrape the soot from the walls of the small towns with your finger....from all of the diesel particulates. We really want to breath that crap just so a small amount of drivers can pretend they are in Europe? What terrible design this car is anyway.....such a huge car and only 13CF of trunk space without being a hybrid? Then they half-assed the hybrid? That is "superior" engineering?
      A P
      • 2 Years Ago
      Making a gallon of diesel fuel requires 25% more oil and emits 17% more heat-trapping greenhouse gases than gasoline reformulated with MTBE. Similarly, diesel requires 17% more oil and emits 18% more heat-trapping gases than gasoline reformulated with ethanol. This means that diesel fuel's advantages from its higher per-gallon energy content and better performance on greenhouse gases are partially offset by the impact of diesel's fuel-production process.
        mr.vw
        • 2 Years Ago
        @A P
        Nice info ;) http://blog.gasbuddy.com/posts/Diesel-vs-gasoline-pollution-diesel-making-improvements/1715-416825-364.aspx
        mr.vw
        • 2 Years Ago
        @A P
        Nice Info!! A P However, Future diesel vehicles, though perhaps not as cost-effective as gasoline, may have a role to play in reducing oil consumption and global warming pollution. Of the vehicles evaluated in the UCS report The Diesel Dilemma: Diesel's Role in the Race for Clean Cars, full hybrid-electric diesels offered the maximum improvement in fuel economy as well as the greatest reduction in heat-trapping emissions. But a key challenge remaining is whether diesel vehicles will ever be able to deliver the same progress on other air pollutants that we've seen in today's gasoline-power technologies. My post may sound smart but I just cut and pasted the paragraph below where A P copied from. Find out more info and read the true article head to blog dot Gasbuddy dot com and look up "Diesel vs. gasoline pollution- diesel making improvements"
      europeans.make.junk.cars
      Catching up to Lexus? I say, better now than never.
        1STH
        • 2 Years Ago
        @europeans.make.junk.cars
        LOL. no. Lexus has to catch up to Audi....
          Johnny Ng
          • 2 Years Ago
          @1STH
          Lexus is a better brand than Audi. For one Lexus aren't based on poor quality Volkswagens but on high quality Toyotas. Every Toyota ever made is a quality masterpiece as shown by JD Power, Consumer Reports and the millions of happy customers worldwide and the various awards Toyota has received for quality.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @1STH
          [blocked]
        joejoe509
        • 2 Years Ago
        @europeans.make.junk.cars
        The LS Hybrid might be quicker than this, but it's also equally pointless and cobbled together.
      Johnny Ng
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why does this heavy come with a 4 cylinder engine? That's so weak and underpowered. A V6 is barely acceptable in these big cars anyway. Alas it is good to see Audi digging their own grave. Maybe then they'll leave the US market and I won't have to constantly see all those broken down Audi and VW and Porsche products on the side of the road.
        joejoe509
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Johnny Ng
        This comment is soooo 2005. A stoplight monster, maybe not but the combined 241hp isn't terrible. It'll be enough to get onto on-ramps, put around town and such. Audi reliability has been spotty for a long time, but it's improving. Audis usually survive the first 3-5 years with little to no problems. But the used market Audi's don't always fare quite as well. Those can afford a brand new Audi should have the money to properly maintain and repair them. They are also more likely to upgrade every few years before the problems start showing up. But I highly doubt you really see a higher than average amount of VW Group vehicles "on the side of the road". I certainly don't. It's usually domestics to be honest.
        libertedelacroix
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Johnny Ng
        coming from the moron who called the Lexus ES a design "masterpiece" that was better than an Aston Martin.... seriously Johnny, go away, you are polluting this blog with your idiocy.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Johnny Ng
        [blocked]
        Buckus Comments
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Johnny Ng
        Because the electric motor delivers low-end torque where you need it on acceleration. The TSI provides steady-state cruising power, where you honestly don't need that much HP. Also, 7 or so seconds to sixty is not exactly chump change for a 2 ton luxury car with a 2.0L 4.
      Black Dynamite 2.0
      • 2 Years Ago
      I always wanted a $70k, 2-ton, FWD car. Who doesn't? BD
        FIDTRO
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Black Dynamite 2.0
        More than your want to troll comment on the same article twice? Do you have a day job? BD BD BD
      JasonERF
      • 2 Years Ago
      Hybrid aside... I see this model year on Auto Trader and can't help but think it's a better looking car: http://www.netcarshow.com/audi/2008-s8/800x600/wallpaper_01.htm I find this new model looks droopy in comparison and far less sporty..
        Banf_1
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JasonERF
        It has a unique fashionable stance on the road that you do not really notice from a far or on pictures.
        merlot066
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JasonERF
        That was the apex of that design language. They had that classy, understated, timeless european design that will look great another 10-20 years from now.
        joejoe509
        • 2 Years Ago
        @JasonERF
        Dreams of the Transporter movie will always make that design a timeless favorite. I don't mind Audi's current design language though. It's more aggressive and substantial than past designs. I just wish that I could tell them all apart... Only hardcore Audi fans can tell a recent A4 from an A6 from an A8 until you get close enough to read the emblem. If I'm paying 100K for a car, I would like it to be a little more different from it's smaller brethren.
      carguy1701
      • 2 Years Ago
      Diesel > Hybrid all day every day
        FuelToTheFire
        • 2 Years Ago
        @carguy1701
        Yay for more pollution, higher prices, and overestimated mileage claims!!!
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @FuelToTheFire
          You're an idiot.
          imnuts
          • 2 Years Ago
          @FuelToTheFire
          Yay for less pollution, lower overall cost of ownership, more torque, and what is usually under-estimated fuel economy claims. Go Civic Hybrid...
      FreeThinker
      • 2 Years Ago
      Just My Opinion, but when viewed in person I think the rear end design of this A8 is much better than the A7. It just looks like a proper German sedan--solid and stylish yet understated. The A7 looks like they were trying way too hard to be something else for the American market. Something ike a squashed robotic cockroach. I can't wait until the LED eyeliner trend falls out of fashion. Again, JMO, but this car would look even more bulletproof without them.
      Tweaker
      • 2 Years Ago
      More lip service from VW AG. They are too invested in dirty diesel. And why wouldn't they, the Germans are not paying with blood and treasure to keep the oil flowing.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 2 Years Ago
      I commend Audi for picking hybrids over diesels, even if the car isn't going to be sold in the US. Hybrids are a much better choice than diesels of any kind. Diesel gas costs MUCH more than regular. It also pollutes more and has worse emmisions than regular fuel. Gasoline powered cars are alo much more likely to meet their fuel economy estimates, while diesels always get worse mileage than whatis posted. Diesel cars also cost more than regualr cars.
        joejoe509
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        I could be wrong and have zero evidence to back it up, but don't hybrids cost more than the typical diesel car? I'm not saying diesels are better than hybrids, but I just don't think hybrids are quite refined enough to become the dominant choice. Diesels still offer consumers similar performance with very respectable mpg numbers. Modern diesels are nearly as clean and regular gasoline engines.
          • 2 Years Ago
          @joejoe509
          [blocked]
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @joejoe509
          Shhh, posting facts takes his thunder away.
          Buckus Comments
          • 2 Years Ago
          @joejoe509
          Hybrids elevate the fuel economy of any combustion engine. So if you had a diesel hybrid, you'd have the best of both worlds. Also, it apparently does need repeating, that Diesel achieves higher fuel economy in part due to the higher energy content, which many people disregard. With modern diesel exhaust equipment, the cost premium for a diesel vs. a hybrid is nearly a wash in many cases, and a hybrid, even on gas, will get greate fuel economy in the city cycle, which is where most people drive.
        Bryant Keith
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        yes the fuel causes less pollutants...what about the horrible environment destroying battery? With older nickel ion batteries it was found that the making of a Toyota Prius in its lifetime did more environmental damage than an Land Rover Discovery. You have to accept all the facts of the hybrid. More to the Environment than air pollution.
        Andrew B
        • 2 Years Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        I seriously hope you are trolling. Right now in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Diesel per litre is CHEAPER than petroleum. Diesel sits at roughly 1.13/L whereas regular unleaded is roughly 1.21/L. So, diesel is cheaper, AND returns much better fuel economy. You also have your numbers mixed. Diesels tend to meet and exceed their EPA ratings MUCH more frequently, whereas EPA ratings for petrol engines are usually lower than expected outcomes. Diesel car may cost more than a regular petrol car, however, hybrids cost much more as well. Besides, batteries will reduce in efficacy over time, and the hybrid will likely take longer to reap the savings benefits than a diesel anyways. Not to mention, diesels will be less tedious to work on than the hybrid, likely more reliable, etc.
    • Load More Comments