Text by Cheryl Tay
Photos by Adrian Wong
Initially, hybrid cars were positioned as friendly for the environment and typically came in the form of hatchbacks. While it did appeal to some people for its efficient fuel consumption levels and how quiet it is on the move, a stigma unfortunately developed about hybrid cars. People felt that hybrid cars were slow (as in underpowered) and ugly.
Recently though, the introduction of luxury performance hybrid models have attempted to do away with that stigma. There was the Infiniti M Hybrid, the BMW ActiveHybrid 5 and the latest to jump onto the hybrid bandwagon is Audi with its A6 Hybrid, the first Audi hybrid model to join the Singapore market.
Said to combine the performance of a V6 petrol engine with the economy of a four-cylinder one – thus having more power but less consumption – the petrol-hybrid mid-sized saloon A6 runs on a parallel hybrid system with a 2-litre turbocharged combustion engine with an electric motor that replaced the torque converter. With 211bhp and 350Nm from the petrol system, the electric motor gives 54bhp and 210Nm for a total combined output of 245bhp and 480Nm.
Power is sent to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic, not like its conventional A6 2.0 TFSI petrol counterpart that has a Multitronic continuously variable transmission. The eagerness of the A6 Hybrid can be felt upon first contact with the pedals. Its power springs to life quickly and is there on demand whenever you call for it, with an ability to charge from zero to 100km/h in 7.5 seconds.
The A6 Hybrid can be driven purely on electric power but not for long – just for three kilometres at a constant speed of 60km/h and a top speed of 100km/h. You can also choose to drive it with the combustion engine only or in its hybrid mode. As hybrid systems go, energy is recovered during deceleration and braking to recharge the battery, while the electric motor serves as a generator to slow down the car. Only during heavy braking will the hydraulic braking system be activated.
This brake regeneration is the source of my slight headache during the drive though. Its over-enthusiasm results in the brakes being more sensitive and at the start I took some time to adjust to the brakes. Once I was more familiar with the amounts of pressure to apply on the brake pedal, the ride got less jerky but occasionally when I forget, I end up almost kissing the steering wheel.
Inside, you get the premium cabin that Audi cars typically have, except for a few differences.
Instead of the tachometer in the instrument cluster, there is now a power meter to show how much electricity you are discharging or recouping, and a battery charge indicator dressed in green and orange hues.
Also, the lithium-ion battery is located in a crash-proof area in the boot, hence compromising a little on luggage space but still rather generous with 375 litres available.
Standard equipment level is remarkable. There are the usual Bluetooth connectivity, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, electric sunroof and proximity sensors.
Then there is a blind spot indicator, Google Earth navigation, night vision assistant, parking assistant that takes care of the steering into parking lots while you control the gears and the pedals, as well as a WLAN hotspot that can be configured using the SIM card slot for 3G connectivity.
Compared to its 2-litre A6 petrol counterparts, the A6 Hybrid has better technology, higher performance figures and less emission for about S$20,000 to S$30,000 more. But it also comes with the priceless value of being environmentally friendly while not compromising on performance.
Engine: 1,984cc TFSI turbocharged
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Performance: 211bhp/4,300-6,000rpm, 350Nm/1,500-4,200rpm, combined output of 245bhp and 480Nm, 0-100 7.5 secs
Top Speed: 240km/h
Price with COE: S$278,150
Testdrive & Enquiries: Premium Automobiles
Tel: 6566 1111
In a Nutshell
(+) Good blend of performance and efficiency
(-) Over-eager braking
Verdict: All the goodness of the Audi A6 with an added commitment to the environment
*This was first published in Wheels Asia.