Sport and spark

Talk about an ex­tra charge. Audi’s plug-in has a $24K pre­mium

Herald Sun - Motoring - - PRESTIGE -

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.

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