Audi will add a hybrid variant to its flagship Audi A8 for production 2012, using a hybrid drivetrain that mates Audi’s 2.0 litre TFSI engine to a disc-shaped electric motor.

The inline-4 turbo engine (modified for hybrid use) makes 211 PS and 350Nm of torque on its own, but with the help of the 40kW and 210Nm electric motor, the Audi A8 Hybrid makes a total combined output of 245 PS and 480Nm, which is less horsepower but more torque than the A8 3.0 TFSI’s 290hp and 420Nm supercharged V6.

The hybrid system’s disc-shaped motor basically replaces the Audi A8 automatic gearbox’s torque converter and sits in between the engine and the 8-speed automatic transmission. A multi-plate clutch that operates in an oil bath connects or disconnects the electric motor and the TFSI engine, and does so ultra-precisely and gently in all situations.

The electric motor is powered by a 36.7kg lithium-ion battery located in a crash-proofed area in the boot, providing 1.3 kWh of nominal energy and up to 40 kW of power. The battery is air-cooled two different ways depending on need. Air is either blown from the passenger compartment by a fan or via a separate cooling circuit coupled to the automatic air conditioning system. The electric motor itself and the control electronics are water cooled.

According to the provisional figures generated by early-stage tests, the 2012 Audi A8 Hybrid will be able to reach 100km/h in 7.7 seconds and continue to a top speed of 235km/h while consuming less than 6.42 litres per 100km in the EU combined cycle test, along with CO2 emissions of less than 148 g/km.

The hybrid luxury sedan will be able to hit 100km/h on electric power alone, and can cruise on electric power for up to 3km at a constant 60km/h. The driver can choose between three modes – an EV mode which tries to run on electric power as often as possible, a D option which allows the car to automatically choose when to use what power source, and an S mode which emphasizes on the best possible acceleration.

Of course, if the fact that your A8 Hybrid can silently roll into a hotel lobby with nary a sound isn’t enough to let people know you’re not driving any regular A8, Audi has also given the A8 Hybrid some unique identification externally – turbine blade 18 or 19 inch wheels, hybrid badging and an exclusive Arctic Silver paint.

You know what’s the most interesting thing about this A8 Hybrid in Malaysian context? Because the internal combustion engine component of the hybrid system has an engine displacement of less than 2,000cc – it actually fulfills the engine displacement rule of hybrid car tax exemptions in Malaysia! BMW and Mercedes-Benz have hybrid cars but the electric motors are all paired with giant engines. This is sort of the first German hybrid luxury sedan with an engine size that actually makes sense.

Wonder if Euromobil will use this to their advantage and bring the Audi A8 Hybrid in. In terms of luxury brands, Porsche already has the Cayenne Hybrid and customers are paying full tax on that as it doesn’t qualify for exemptions. Lexus has three hybrid cars for sale and only one – the CT 200h – qualifies for the tax exemption.

But then again bear in mind the tax exemptions are due to expire by the end of this year and there has been no word from the government so far on whether the exemptions will be extended.

Look after the jump for some photos of the new A8 Hybrid.