Here are four sneak peeks in one: the Volkswagen Touareg in these pictures hides a new hybrid system that will be offered not only in a brand-new Touareg to be launched at the Frankfurt auto show in September, but also in the new Porsche Panamera and Cayenne and - mated to a smaller gasoline engine - in the Audi Q5.
VW's first hybrid might be late, but it's good. On the internal-combustion side is a 3.0-liter supercharged V-6 from the new Audi S4 that makes 333 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque. With the help of an AC motor powered by nickel-metal-hydride batteries, total system power is impressive, at about 370 hp and 405 lb-ft. The electric motor can propel the car unassisted for more than a mile and at speeds of up to 30 mph. Both motors apply force to the same driveshaft; a disengagement clutch allows the gasoline engine to be shut off at speeds of up to 90 mph, cutting highway fuel consumption. An eight-speed automatic transmission provides the broad range of ratios needed to achieve the Touareg's 26-mpg efficiency target and maintain a 7700-pound towing capacity.
IT'S A MEAN GREEN MACHINE: Despite weighing about 5300 pounds, this Touareg prototype bolts off the line, hitting 60 mph in just 6.8 seconds; expect the lighter Panamera to improve substantially on that performance. Our only criticism is a lack of progressive feel from the regenerative brakes, but we suspect Porsche in particular will have fixed that by the time this system makes its way into production.