Audi has confirmed that the long-awaited Q5 Hybrid will finally be coming to the United States for 2013, according to a report on Cars.com’s Kicking Tires blog. The compact crossover will be Audi’s first hybrid available for purchase in North America.
Audi’s experiments with hybrids date back to at least 1989, when it showed off the first of three gas-electric “Duo” concepts. But in recent years, the carmaker has had several false starts when it comes to bringing a hybrid model to the United States. First, it was reported in 2008 that a hybrid Q5 would launch alongside the standard model in the U.S. for 2009, but that plan was soon quashed due to falling fuel prices and the carmaker’s dissatisfaction with nickel-metal hydride battery packs. For a while, it looked like Audi had put hybrids on the back burner in favor of it and parent company Volkswagen’s favorite fuel-saving technology, clean diesel.
Why not offer both? Reportedly, Audi’s clean diesel engines perform equally or better than their gas-electric counterparts in European fuel efficiency tests, making the hybrids a tough sell. In the U.S., Audi will remedy this by offering a 3.0L, 6-cylinder diesel Q5 variant and a 4-cylinder hybrid model―the diesel will be tuned for performance and the hybrid for fuel economy.
The Q5 Hybrid will pair the same 211-horsepower, 2.0L, 4-cylinder engine found in the current base model Q5 with a 54-horsepower electric motor, powered by a 1.3 kWh lithium ion battery pack. Combined, the engine and motor output up to 245 horsepower and 354 pounds-feet of torque, accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in just 7 seconds.
Using its parallel hybrid system, the Q5 Hybrid can operate in either electric-only or gas mode, and can accelerate up to 62 mph using its motor alone. For a more sustained electric ride, drivers can expect up to 1.8 miles of electric range when maintaining a steady 37-mph speed.
The Q5 Hybrid gets 34 mpg under the forgiving European test cycle, which would likely point to an American fuel economy rating in the neighborhood of 27 mpg. The standard 4-cylinder 2012 Q5 gets 22 mpg combined under EPA testing, and the forthcoming diesel is expected to be about 10 percent less efficient than its hybrid sibling.
Pricing and an official release date have yet to be announced.