- Audi's Q5 SUV and A8 sedan get performance and efficiency gains from the addition of a plug-in powertrain option.
- Sure, zero-to-60-mph times will be better, but it's the fuel-economy benefits that stand out here. The standard Q8 gets 18 mpg, while the PHEV more than triples that to 65 MPGe.
- Thanks to tax credits, you might only pay $2000 more to plug in your new Audi.
It's not a surprise that you're going to pay more for a plug-in-hybrid variant of the 2020 Audi A8 or Q5, but you'll also be getting more. For an extra $10,000—or maybe much less, after tax credits—Audi promises more efficiency, more performance, and more exterior paint choices.
Let's start with the popular Q5 SUV, which finally gets an electric boost that will unsurprisingly offer more efficient driving, what with its EPA-estimated 20 miles of all-electric range and 65 MPGe when the 14.1-kWh battery runs out. If you're driving the gas-only Q8, you're looking at getting just 18 miles per gallon (combined).
The Q5 PHEV also gets what should be a noticeable acceleration boost, going from zero to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds, nearly a second faster than the non-electrified Q5. That's because, even though the PHEV and the standard Q5 share Audi's turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder TFSI engine, the plug-in hybrid adds an electric motor to the powertrain between the seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission and the engine for a total power output of 349 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Compare that to the decent, but now less interesting, 248 hp and 273 lb-ft of torque in the gas-only model.
Both versions come with Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive and look similar enough that you'll probably have to check the badges to see which version you're looking at, unless their exterior paint is Turbo Blue or Daytona Gray, as those colors are exclusive to the PHEV (and, just to keep you on your toes, the SQ5).
The plug-in-hybrid versions of the Q5 will start at $53,895 for the Premium trim, almost $10,000 more than the Premium trim for the non-PHEV Q5, which starts at $44,295. Higher trims of the plug-in-hybrid Q5 include the Premium Plus, which costs $57,595, and the Prestige, which is priced at $61,345. Audi says that it expects Q5 TFSI e buyers will be eligible for the federal electric-vehicle tax credit of up to $6712.
A8 Plug-In Hybrid
Moving over to the sedan, Audi finally brings all of this plug-in-hybrid goodness to the new A8, too, including the 14.1-kWh battery, which in the A8 is good for an EPA-estimated electric range of 17 miles and 54 MPGe. The gasoline-powered A8 gets just 21 mpg combined. From the outside, the A8 TFSI e looks like the gas model but with a unique light signature in the front bumper.
The PHEV uses the same turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 engine found in the A8 L 55 TFSI model, but instead of the 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque available from the gas-only powertrain, the PHEV offers up 443 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque. That compares favorably to the other gas-powered A8 Audi sells in the U.S., which comes with a 4.0-liter TFSI V-8 and produces 453 hp and 487 lb-ft of torque. Stop us if you've heard this part before, but the plug-in model runs up from zero to 60 mph in 4.9 seconds, or almost a second faster than the standard A8 V-6. It's also comfortably close to the 4.5 time Audi promises for the V-8 model.
In keeping with the price premium of $10,000 or so for the plug-in-hybrid powertrain, the 2020 A8 60 TFSI e starts at $94,995, while the non-PHEV A8 can be had for $86,195. The gas-powered A8 V-8 starts at $97,795. As for the federal plug-in vehicle tax benefits for the A8, Audi says eligible buyers can expect a federal credit of up to $6795, or a total increased cost of just over $2000.