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2015 Audi Q7 – TDI diesel vs e-tron hybrid

Audi has revealed the latest version of their largest car and, for the first time, has made an e-tron plug-in hybrid available to customers. The Audi Q7 is one of the biggest cars you can buy in Britain and has always attracted praise for its space, quality and road presence – see our full preview of the new Q7 here.

The standard model will cost from just over £50,000 but we expect there to be a hefty premium to get the plug-in hybrid variant. The question is – is the e-tron worth the extra money, or would you be better off saving the cash with a conventional diesel? We’ve done the maths.

Audi hasn’t revealed the prices for the new Q7 e-tron but its stablemate Porsche has offered its Cayenne SUV in conventional and hybrid guises for some time. Porsche charge an extra £12,000 for the hybrid variant of the Cayenne so we predict the Q7 will cost around £62,000 – the same as the Porsche.

Audi Q7 – TDI vs e-tron – engines

As far as combustion engines go – both use the same 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. In the traditional TDI it makes 268hp and 443lb ft of torque and is enough to shove the Q7 from 0 to 60mph in just 6.3 seconds. The eight-speed auto connects to Audi’s well-known quattro all-wheel-drive system for great all-weather grip.

Although it shares an engine, the e-tron differs in some crucial ways. That engine makes 258hp (presumably due to tuning for the hybrid system) but is bolted to a 126hp electric motor. This combination feeds 368hp and 516lb ft of torque to the eight-speed gearbox and quattro all-wheel drive – enough to catapult the e-tron to 62mph from rest in 6 seconds flat.

Audi Q7 – TDI vs e-tron – efficiency

Fuel-sipping motoring might be the raison d’être of the e-tron but the standard TDI is far from inefficient. A 325kg weight saving over the previous Q7 means the new model is up to 23 per cent more efficient and can achieve 47.8mpg while emitting 153g/km of CO2. A lower powered 215hp version will join the ranks later in the year.

Efficiency, however, has to be the e-tron’s trump card. The plug-in hybrid combination can achieve 166mpg and emit under 50g/km of CO2 – putting it among the most efficient cars on the planet. It can also cover 34 miles on purely electric power so, if your commute is under that number, you can effectively drive the Q7 using no fuel at all.

So the e-tron is more efficient, right? While it uses less fuel, it’s not necessarily going to save you the most money. Taking average consumption and an average milage of 12,000 miles per year, the e-tron will cost you nearly £1,000 less per year in fuel. However, to recoup the extra cost of the e-tron, you’d have to drive the car for more than 12 years.

So pick the TDI if you want to save money? Well, yes and no – if you cover lots of motorway miles – where hybrids are less effective – then we’d suggest picking the TDI. If your commute falls under the e-tron’s electric range of 34 miles, then you could find you’re disciplined enough not to use the diesel engine and, therefore, will recover your money much quicker.

Audi Q7 – TDI vs e-tron – fuel costs
Car Miles per gallon Gallons per year Yearly fuel cost
Audi Q7 TDI 47.8mpg 251gpy £1,335.32
Audi Q7 e-tron 166mpg 72.3gpy £384.64
Audi Q7 – TDI vs e-tron – overall costs
Car Purchase price Yearly fuel cost
Audi Q7 TDI £50,000 £1335.32
Audi Q7 e-tron £62,000 £384.64

Naturally, the e-tron will save you money on road tax, too. Hybrids like the e-tron currently incur no road tax but the TDI costs £180 per year. Of course, if you commute in London then the e-tron will also save you money on the congestion charge and will qualify for cheaper parking, too.

Audi Q7 – TDI vs e-tron – equipment

Unlike other Audis – whose equipment lists can be more complex than Tolstoy’s War and Peace – the Q7 is expected to come with most of the equipment buyers want. Even base-models get an infotainment screen with sat-nav, DAB radio, Bluetooth, leather upholstery and heated front seats.

Audi says, however, that the e-tron takes ‘the standard equipment of a top model’. It gets the new virtual cockpit, first seen on the Audi TT, and the heating and air conditioning systems have been optimised for use in the e-tron. Some extra displays have been added to the e-tron’s infotainment screen to feed efficiency data back to the driver. It’s worth bearing in mind that the e-tron is only offered as a five-seater compared to the TDI’s seven due to the need to house the hybrid batteries.

Audi Q7 – TDI vs e-tron – which to choose?

If you’re in the market for a Q7 and find yourself in the position to choose between the TDI and the e-tron, we’d suggest you look closely at which would suit your driving style more. As mentioned, if you cover lots of motorway miles then you might be better off saving the money and picking the conventional TDI – it’ll take e-tron owners a long time to recoup the financial difference and the hybrid system makes less difference at high speeds.

But, if you regularly commute in town and could conceivably do your runs within the 34-mile electric range, the e-tron may represent a sound way to save money. Aside from its miniscule running costs, the fact it’s the top model will win you some kudos in the executive’s car park.

Bring on the e-tron!

The e-tron will be available to order from the end of 2015 but, if you can’t wait that long, the standard Q7 is available now for deliveries this summer. Read our full Audi Q7 preview then head over to our car configurator to see how much you could save on your next car.

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