Chas­ing elec­trons

Turns out recharg­ing can be trick­ier than re­fu­elling

Wheels (Australia) - - Our Garage - TOBY HAGON

MONTH three and I’m start­ing to get used to Audi’s take on the (mostly) elec­tric car. Easy torque is the name of the game. And I’m lov­ing that you can zip around keenly with­out mak­ing much noise. Sure, there’s a lot to be said for the the­atre of a bark­ing, pop­ping ex­haust. But, as Tesla own­ers would at­test, there’s also a cer­tain ap­peal about mak­ing a brisk get­away with­out peo­ple think­ing you’re a wally.

That’s ar­guably the e-tron’s big­gest party trick. There’s lit­tle visual fizz, and the only give­away to peo­ple in­side is the lack of noise. Good or bad, de­pend­ing on your per­spec­tive.

The charg­ing thing is all good, though. My e-tron tops out at about 40km, which al­most gets me to the city and back, and hav­ing the en­gine there for ex­tra grunt is a bonus.

I’m also get­ting into free charg­ing. My lo­cal shop­ping cen­tre has a Charge­point sta­tion, which I de­cided to utilise on the bread-and- milk run. Ex­cept there was a Nis­san Leaf hog­ging the charg­ing plug. The next day, too. A week later it’s there again suck­ing up free elec­trons. I can smell a rat.

Clearly some cluey lo­cal is mak­ing his elec­tric car some­one else’s prob­lem – and get­ting a free park­ing space at the same time. I’m ini­tially jeal­ous I can’t play the same game, al­though it’s a bit like park­ing in the dis­abled spots with­out a per­mit. Un­cool to the ex­treme.

Be­sides, I’ve got big­ger prob­lems, and it all comes down to tech­nol­ogy.

First, my com­puter de­cides it doesn’t want to up­load some ur­gent files. Then the Tel­stra phone net­work goes on the blink, leav­ing me scar­ily phone­less for hours. To top it off my e-tron re­fuses to charge. The lit­tle charg­ing light that hides be­hind the four rings in the grille won’t turn green, in­stead stay­ing a stub­born orange.

So it was back to the deal­er­ship for a check-up and the ini­tial re­sponse wasn’t what I wanted to hear: “We’ve checked it and can’t find any­thing wrong; it’s charg­ing fine for us.” Yet at my house, at three dif­fer­ent pow­er­points, it re­fused to ac­cept any­thing re­sem­bling elec­tric­ity.

“Did you use the charg­ing ca­ble that comes with the car?” I ask the ser­vice man­ager. Turns out they charged it from a wall charger, and the prob­lem was tracked down to my charg­ing plug, which most own­ers will rarely use be­cause Audi in­stalls a wall charger for nicks when you buy an e-tron.

Those charg­ing is­sues meant I used more good ol’ pre­mium un­leaded this month. As a re­sult fuel use was the high­est I’ve seen, at 5.6L/100km. Most of it was around town, so it’s not too bad, but it’s more than I wanted to spend in an elec­tric car.

RAISED AND RE­DUCED Slightly higher boot floor than the reg­u­lar A3 Sport­back re­duces boot ca­pac­ity from 380 litres to 280

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