First Drive

First Drive: Audi A8 PHEV

The story:
Another of Audi’s models has received a plug-in hybrid version, and this time it’s the flagship A8 luxury saloon, with a range of up to 28 miles
Key rival:BMW 7-Series PHEV
On sale:Now

The latest of Audi’s numerous forays into a plug-in hybrid version of its models is its biggest and most exclusive yet. The A8 luxury saloon now has a 449hp powertrain that emits just 52g/km and can run for an official 28 miles on the battery alone.

Running on electric mode makes the smooth, quiet and comfortable A8 even more smooth, quiet and comfortable, and the turn of speed is impressive. But when the pace is picked up, the car’s weight does make itself felt, and the big A8 isn’t a car in which pushing on through twisty roads is a lot of fun.

The PHEV comes in standard or long-wheelbase guises, depending on whether the important person is going to be spending more time in the front or the back, and only in Sport specification.First Drive - February 2021 - Audi A8 Phev - Image 2

Worth noting is that the boot space drops from 505 litres to below 400 thanks to the packaging of the batteries. It’s still a decent space, but packing requires more thought than it does in the petrol or diesel models. Also worth mentioning is that there’s no brake mode or way of controlling the level of regeneration to replenish the battery, which is a shame because it precludes one-pedal driving.

The big rivals are the plug-in version of the BMW 7-Series and forthcoming Mercedes S-Class that arrives later this year. The BMW is slightly more expensive, and the A8 PHEV just shades it on efficiency and running costs.

paul barker

The verdict

A handy addition to the A8 range, especially for those operating in cities and those where low emission zones are looming. But it’s not cheap, there are some boot space compromises and the official electric range is less than 30 miles.