Sport and spark
Talk about an extra charge. Audi’s plug-in has a $24K premium
TALK about choice. The six versions of Audi’s A3 Sportback have four engine options — now there’s a seventh, with the arrival of the A3 Sportback e-tron.
This one is a plug-in hybrid, with petrol engine and electric motor. The latter can be plugged into a power point to recharge.
The five-door hatch is the first of a new wave of Audis.
A plug-in version of the Q7 arrives early next year and the R8 supercar, as driven by Tony Stark in the Avengers, also gets an e-tron variant (there are no plans yet for a right-hand drive version).
All promise a combination of super performance and outstanding fuel economy. Styling thankfully doesn’t look like a child’s toy, unlike some competitors.
The A3 e-tron is in effect three cars in one. It can run on electricity alone, it can operate on a combination of electric and petrol power and it can employ just the petrol engine like the regular A3.
There’s no risk of being left stranded because the petrol engine cuts in automatically when the battery runs out.
Audi claims fuel consumption of 1.6L/100km and theoretical range of 920km — it’s something of a moving target because energy reclaimed from braking tops up the battery along the way.
The powertrain comprises a 1.4 litre turbocharged fourcylinder petrol engine with the electric motor integrated into the six-speed automatic transmission.
The e-tron adds 305kg to the A3, the battery pack under the rear seat accounting for 125kg of that. Reduced to 40L capacity, the petrol tank is relocated rearward while the boot is slightly smaller and a repair kit replaces the spare wheel.
To help offset the weight the bonnet and front guards are made of lightweight aluminium.
A sliding badge on the grille conceals the plug-in socket.