Audi has rolled out details about its eco-friendly 2021 Q5, A7, and A8 TFSI e models, and while they’ve got sleeker styles, more torque, and better tech, the big news is their energy efficiency. The additions seem like solid steps toward the automaker’s goal of making 30 percent of its U.S. portfolio electrified in the next five years, despite lagging sales and layoffs.
“[Tesla] showed that electric cars are working, that a fully electric car is the right solution,” said former Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess in January when the automaker pledged to launch eight new electric and hybrid cars this year. “So, we appreciate that.”
Of course, the automaker has upped its commitment to electrification in recent years following “Dieselgate,” the 2015 scandal that found VW cheated on emissions tests. Just 18 months ago, parent company Volkswagen budgeted $9 billion for electrification, with Audi leading the way. Last month Diess, now head of Volkswagen Group, met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Germany to discuss electrification.
Audi is offering three plug-in hybrids for 2021, including the A7 TFSI e which is new to the United States. Each of the three listed below are available now. Regarding the MSRP figures, tack on an additional $1,045 for the A7 and A8 models, and $1,095 for the Q5 models.
2021 Audi Q5 55 TFSI e
This Q5 variant is powered by a 2.0-liter TFSI engine and an electric motor that produces a net 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque when combined. That’s similar to the Audi SQ5, but there’s a bonus with the PHEV model: you can drive it in EV mode to eliminate direct tailpipe emissions and gain eligibility for $6,712 in potential federal tax incentives. It’s also eligible for HOV lane transportation. It has a seven-speed S tronic transmission and Audi’s signature quattro all-wheel drive system.
The 2021 Audi Q5 55 TFSI e has an EPA-estimated all-electric range of 19 miles and an MPGe rating of 50.
Premium Plus: $55,800
2021 A7 55 TFSI e
This plug-in hybrid boasts a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder TFSI engine and an electric motor that combine to produce 363 horsepower and 369 lb-ft. of torque. You have the option to adjust engine and battery usage with three modes specific to the plug-in vehicle.
The A7 55 TFSI e automatically starts in EV mode, where it exclusively uses battery power until you press the accelerator past a variable pressure point. You activate Hybrid mode when you use route guidance in the MMI navigation system. You can choose Battery Holdmode to maintain the battery capacity at its current level (if you plan to use more juice later). A seven-speed S tronic transmission and quattro all-wheel drive are both standard.
The 2021 Audi A7 55 TFSI e has an EPA-estimated all-electric range of 24 miles and an MPGe rating of 68.
Premium Plus: $74,900
2021 A8 L 60 TFSI e
The A8 TFSI e is powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 paired with an electric motor integrated into the torque converter. It has a manufacturer-estimated combined maximum output of 443 horsepower and 516 lb-ft. of torque. You can use paddle shifters behind the steering wheel to choose from different plug-in specific modes, including hybrid mode, purely electric mode, and a hold mode. Quattro all-wheel drive is standard along with an eight-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission.
The 2021 Audi A8 L 60 TFSI e has an EPA-estimated all-electric range of 18 miles and an MPGe rating of 53.
Starting MSRP: $95,900
All three vehicles come with a 14.1 kWh battery pack that sits under the rear cargo area and an integrated heat pump that uses battery heat to warm the cabin. The onboard 7.7 kW charger allows each to replenish battery power from empty to 100 percent in just 2.4 hours when using a 240-volt outlet.
Nancy Dunham is a life-long journalist whose work appears in many national automotive and general interest magazines and accompanying websites. Her dad was an executive with Western Auto Supply Co. (sold to Sears), so the smell of tires still brings back a flood of childhood memories. Favorite professional assignment: driving on the Texas Motor Speedway. She lives in Austin, Texas with her cat Prudence.