In 2014, Audi’s parent company Volkswagen will be unveiling 14 electric and hybrid models but none are as important as the Audi A3 e-tron which VW believe will help them become market leaders in electric vehicles by 2018.
The new Audi A3 e-tron promises both speed and efficiency. It’s slated for release in 2014 as a Sportback model but hatch and convertible models will follow soon after. Audi used the 2013 Geneva Motor Show in March to unveil the plug-in electric hybrid concept car that’s good for a 0-62mph time of 7.6 seconds and also offers a combined 188mpg. This model can cover 31 miles on electric only power and offers a total range of 620 miles when the electric motor and the 1. 4 litre TFSI petrol engine are combined.
With a total of 201bhp and 350Nm of peak torque there’s plenty of power on tap. The car’s top speed is 138mph only a little way short of the electronically limited 155mph the Audi A3 2.0 TFSI manages but that car only returns 40.9mpg. The expected price is also very similar to the 296bhp Audi S3, which comes in at £30,640. The emissions are kept to just 35g/km of CO2, which is impressive for a car in this class given that the S3 is rated at 159g/km.
The battery takes three hours and 45 minutes to charge from a standard household socket but it can also be charged by the petrol engine as you drive. There are three ways in which the petrol motor can be employed. The “Auto” mode works out the most efficient combination of petrol and electric power, choosing “Hold” keeps the battery levels consistent so the power’s there for later use, and the “Charge” setting prepares the Audi A3 e-tron for an extensive run in electric only mode.
This is a relatively new segment of the market so there aren’t too many rivals for the Audi A3 e-tron. The new BMW i3 and the car that started the hybrid craze, the Toyota Prius, have to be considered but if this is as good as Audi are promising, it will be in a class of its own.