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Audi reveals first plug-in hybrid

Created on 26/11/2014 @ 11:17


Test Drive by Graham Breeze

Audi see plug-in hybrids as the future and has revealed the A3 e-tron  Sportback– an exciting glimpse into the future.

 The award winning third generation A3 has been redesigned as a highly efficient, five seat plug-in hybrid electric vehicle suitable for everyday use and represents the company’s first move into the sector.

And the launch really is a glimpse into Audi’s future because this may be the company’s first production car to use plug-in technology but you can soon expect to seethe technology move into A6 and even Q7 in the near future. 

It’s a huge statement from the company you would normally associate with high powered, luxury transport – but the new arrival offers very few compromises.

The car on test was an A3 Sportback with a 1.4 turbocharged engine which developed 148bhp. The clever bit comes with the addition of a 101bhp electric motor integrated into the six-speed dual clutch gearbox, providing a combined 350Nm of torque – that’s VW Golf territory.

The man in the street needs to know what all that does to his performance figures and he isn’t going to be disappointed. You can expect 0-62mph in a very impressive 7.6seconds and a top speed of 138mph.

He also wants to know what his running costs are going to be and that’s where both private and fleet buyers are going to sit up and take notice. Using the technology carefully will get you176mpg while producing only 37g/km of emissions. In electric mode those emissions disappear completely. You can expect to average over 60mpg.

A button on the A3’s centre console allows selection of pure EV or hybrid-running modes, and there’s also a ‘charge save’ setting which leaves the battery alone in anticipation of urban running later in your journey. A fourth mode utilises the 1.4 engine as a battery-charging altenator.

It all sounds a bit complex but the easy way is to just get in and drive. In a few hours I was confidently switching modes to get the best performance from the A3.

If you really need to find out how good this car is simply compare it with the A3 Sportback 2.0TDi S Tronic. There’s 36% more power and 3% more torque. CO2 levels are down by 68%, while there’s 175% more miles per gallon. 

Top speed is up by 3mph and 0-62mph drops by less than a second. And don’t forget there’s no car tax to pay and only 5%BIK.

Significant additional e-tron equipment includes all weather LED headlights’ 17” alloys, light and rain sensors, MMI Navigation Plus with Audi Connect, advanced key technology, rear parking sensors, rear roof spoiler and a charging cable kit.

There’s also a Smartphone accessible e-tron app available providing remote control. That means you can pre-programme departure times to ensure a full battery; pre-programme climate control and remotely monitor charge status.

There’s a price to pay for all this technology though and he test model would set you back close to £35,000, rising to nearer £40,000 with additions such as a panoramic sunroof and heated seats. That is a lot of money.

History tells us though that Audi don’t get things wrong too often so this little glimpse into the future is one well worth remembering and keep an keen eye out for future developments.



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