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Audi details new hybrid flagship; U.S. intentions not confirmed

Thu, 25 Aug 2011

Audi's flagship A8 sedan has always brought power and luxury to the lineup, along with a good bit of consumption. Now the company aims to lessen that blow with the A8 hybrid that will debut in 2012.

Only confirmed for the European market, the hybrid A8 will use a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine combined with a disc-shaped electric motor that develops 54 hp and 155 lb-ft of torque. Total peak output of the powertrain will be 245 hp and 354 lb-ft of torque. Most of the twist will be available from launch, because of the electric motor. The 0-to-62-mph sprint will take 7.7 seconds.

The electric motor fits in the space usually reserved for the torque converter in front of the eight-speed automatic transmission. It uses a multiplate clutch in an oil bath to engage or disengage the electric motor. Both powerplants will drive the front wheels.

The A8 hybrid will be able to travel up to 62 mph on electric power alone--but its electric-only range is less than two miles.

The hybrid A8 has five operating states, Audi says. It can work with just the gasoline motor, just the electric motor or in hybrid mode. It can also cruise in recuperation mode, where the battery uses the engine to gain some charge, or boosting, when the battery gives a little extra to the wheels. Two display screens show the driver where the power is going.

The hybrid will look like the regular A8 but with hybrid badges and 10-spoke wheels.

By Jake Lingeman