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First Drive

First Drive: Audi Q7 PHEV

The story:
Audi’s Q7 gets a new plug-in hybrid version as part of a large-scale PHEV-ing of its range that includes new A6, A7 and A8 plug-ins to join the existing Q5 model.
Category:Large SUV
Key rival:BMW X5
MPG:85.6 mpg
On sale:Now

The race to electrify as many models as possible will lead Audi to have seven different PHEVs by the end of this year, as well as its e-tron range of full electric vehicles, and one of the newest additions to the range is the Q7 PHEV.

The Q7 TFSIe comes in Sport or S Line trim, costing from just under £65,000 and offering an official electric-only range of up to 27 miles from a 14.1kWh battery that’s significantly smaller than what is offered by premium German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The battery is combined with a 3.0-litre petrol engine to give a potent 381hp combined power figure, but an emissions figure of only 74g/km where the BMW X5e is at 27g/km and the Mercedes GLE350e at 19g/km thanks to their 24.0kWh and 31.2kWh batteries respectively. Combined the reduced efficiency with a lower residual value, and the Q7 is a little off its compatriots in terms of running costs, particularly for employees, as higher rate tax payers will find a bill for the Audi is almost £250 per month higher than the BMW or Mercedes. It is though almost half what that same driver would pay on a conventional petrol or diesel Q7, so the plug-in becomes the Q7 of choice for anyone paying benefit-in-kind tax on their car. But there’s no denying that rival PHEVs are a much more tax-efficient package.First Drive-July 2020-Audi Q7 PHEV-Image 7

It’s also worth noting that the Q7’s practicality is impacted by the addition of the plug-in powertrain, with the Q7 PHEV only available in five-seat form, rather than the seven-seat layout of the petrol and diesel models. But it’s still got a very decent 650 litres of boot space, though that is down by 120 litres on the petrol or diesel version.

Away from the issues the Q7 has around running costs versus key rivals, it’s an excellent piece of kit, with a high-quality interior and plenty of space for occupants and their luggage. Equipment levels are decent, although it’s worth noting that, even on this S-Line top-spec model, keyless entry is part of the £2500 Comfort & Sound pack.

First Drive-July 2020-Audi Q7 PHEV-Image 8Also worthy of note is that the charging point is on the right end for those who prefer to reverse into spaces, sited on the rear passenger side, the other side from the petrol filler cap.

The powertrain is responsive no matter which combination of power it’s running on, but the ride can be a touch on the lumpy or lollopy side, and more information on the powertrain and an additional brake regeneration mode would be nice. The lack of both, combined with the high emissions versus rival large SUV plug-in hybrids with bigger battery capacities, help lead to the conclusion that, while clearly the most sensible Q7 for company users, Audi hasn’t fully grabbed the opportunity to offer the most tax-efficient PHEV on the market.

paul barker

The verdict

Definitely the Q7 of choice for the company market despite being more expensive to buy than the petrol or diesel versions, but rival PHEVs are hugely more tax-efficient as they get below the magic 50g/km marker for BiK.