The back and forth on which internal-combustion engine to use in the upcoming, U.S.-bound Q7 e-tron reflects the turmoil at the Volkswagen Group. Originally slated for a mid-2016 launch, the company’s plug-in-hybrid halo car was being discussed to have either a 2.0-liter, turbocharged TFSI gasoline engine or a 3.0-liter V-6 TDI.
Both models are ready to roll: The gasoline four-banger will be offered in Asia, while Europe will get the diesel; both will be integrated into an electrified plug-in-hybrid powertrain. The 2.0 TFSI e-tron makes 367 horsepower and 516 lb-ft of torque, for claimed zero-to-62-mph performance of 5.9 seconds and a top speed of 137 mph. The TDI e-tron’s figures are almost identical: 373 hp, 516 lb-ft of torque, a zero-to-62 time of 6.0 seconds, and a terminal velocity of 140 mph.
As late as last week, our German sources said that the 3.0 TDI e-tron was the more likely scenario for American dealers. But given the still-unfolding TDI emissions scandal—including Audi issuing a stop-sale order for all of its diesel models—that seems to have changed. We are now told that the 2.0 TFSI is the one that’s going to come to the U.S., if the Q7 e-tron comes at all.
The smooth, 3.0-liter V-6 TDI is the more tractable, and it would represent a unique technological approach in America, where diesel hybrids are as rare as can be. The 2.0 TFSI, by contrast, wouldn’t set the Audi far apart from the competition’s hybrids, although that engine beats similar engines in terms of refinement. It seems to have gotten the final nod from Audi, a company that seems almost paralyzed by the temporary (and perhaps permanent) suspension of its R&D chief, Ulrich Hackenberg.