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by Tim Beissmann

The first official details of the 2012 Audi A8 Hybrid have been revealed ahead of the frugal luxury limousine’s 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show debut next month.

Production is expected to commence early in 2012, although Audi Australia is yet to confirm if the A8 Hybrid will join the local line-up.

“We’re currently evaluating the A8 Hybrid for the Australian market,” Audi Australia’s Anna Burgdorf said.

“It’s an interesting car for us, but too early to confirm if it will arrive.”

The Audi A8 Hybrid combines a 155kW/350Nm 2.0 TFSI petrol engine with a 40kW/210Nm electric motor. Working in tandem, the two produce a maximum of 180kW of power and 480Nm of torque.

Performance promises to be sharp enough, with the Hybrid launching from 0-100km/h in 7.7 seconds and continuing on to its 235km/h top speed.

Audi says provisional tests have shown the A8 Hybrid uses less than 6.4 litres/100km on the combined cycle and emits less than 148g/km CO2.

The Audi A8 Hybrid can travel at 100km/h in electric-only mode (for a very short time), and will cover approximately 3km in EV mode when travelling 60km/h.

As well as EV mode, drivers can select from D mode and S mode. In D, the car manages the engine and the electric motor for optimal hybrid efficiency, while in S, the focus switches to performance.

Like the rest of the Audi A8 range, the hybrid model is equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission, although it has been modified, with the electric motor filling the space usually occupied by the torque converter at the front. A multi-plate clutch that operates in an oil bath connects and disconnects the electric motor and the petrol engine.

The hybrid’s lithium-ion battery sits at the rear of the car. Weighing 36.7kg, the battery provides 1.3kWh of energy and up to 40kW of power.

Visually, the differences between the A8 Hybrid and the rest of the range are minimal. The Arctic Silver metallic paint and 10-spoke alloy wheels are unique, while subtle hybrid badges also set it apart. LED headlights and a Bose audio system come standard.

Currently, the most frugal model in the Audi A8 range is the 3.0 TDI quattro model. Producing 184kW of power and 550Nm of torque, the entry-level diesel uses 6.6 litres/100km on the combined cycle – slightly more than the upcoming hybrid.

Do you think the Audi A8 Hybrid would be a good addition to the Australian line-up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Read CarAdvice’s review of the Audi A8.