The Audi A3 e-tron Sportback is a glimpse into Audi's future models, and it's an excellent all-rounder
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler confirmed to Auto Express recently that he sees plug-in hybrids as Audi’s future, and this Audi A3 e-tron is the firm’s first production car to use the tech.
In 2015, there’ll be an A6 e-tron followed by a Q7 e-tron and many more after that, so how is Audi’s plug-in future shaping up?
The real play value comes in maximising fuel-range, however. A button on the A3’s centre console allows selection of pure EV or hybrid-running modes, plus a ‘charge save’ setting which leaves the battery alone in anticipation of urban running later in your journey. A fourth mode uses extra regen-braking to recharge the battery, and utlises the 1.4 engine as a battery-charging altenator. It sounds complex, but the beauty of the A3 e-tron for many will be its simplicity: just hop in, treat it like a normal automatic as Audi intended, and enjoy uncanny silence and superb fuel economy.
By assisting the petrol engine under hard acceleration, killing petrol power at urban speeds and relaxing both sources at a medium-speed cruise, the A3 e-tron makes wonderfully serene, effortless progress. The eco-figures are predictably staggering: 176mpg and 37g/km are a commuter’s dream, as is a 31-mile electric-only range with a top EV speed of 80mph. Forget the blue-sky thinking though and the A3 e-tron remains impressive in the real world. In a challenging mix of urban crawling, A-roads and everything inbetween, our test car indicated 64.2mpg. A full compliment of charge and fuel offered a calculated range of 526 miles.
Against its frugal diesel sisters, the A3’s UK price of £29,950 (after the plug-in £5000 grant is deducted) is steep, but for a car which crams so much intuitive yet sophisticated kit into an immaculately finished product, the e-tron justifies the outlay, even before running costs are considered. And if this is what e-tron can do for an A3, we can’t wait to see it on Audi’s more exciting models. A TT e-tron, anyone?