A3 Sportback to be Audi’s first real-world e-tron

29 May 2013

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron driving

Following a seemingly endless stream of Audi e-tron concepts stretching all the way back to 2009, all of which were very shiny but never actually for sale, Audi has finally confirmed a plug-in car that you might one day buy. The A3 Sportback e-tron will go into volume production at the end of this year, the company has said, sneaking the news out while I was enjoying the recent bank holiday.

The e-tron A3 will be a plug-in hybrid, splicing a 1.4-litre TFSI petrol engine developing 148bhp with a 75kW (101bhp) electric motor. Peak combined power will be just over 200bhp so it should be a lively thing to drive. The e-tron’s liquid-cooled, 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery sits ahead of the rear axle (according to the German announcement at least, the English version optimistically places the battery ahead of the front axle, which if it were physically possible would make the car interestingly nose-heavy to drive).

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron interior

All propulsion is done by the front wheels, with the drive motor sitting between the engine and the six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. Surprisingly, Audi isn’t yet following Volvo’s and Peugeot-Citroen’s adventures with electrically propelled rear axles, which might have produced an e-Quattro hybrid 4x4.

Hustling from a standstill to 62mph will take the Sportback e-tron a mere 7.6 seconds, assuming the battery isn’t flat, while freshly replenished cells will be good for about 30 miles unaided, according to Audi. If you’re prepared to accept the notion that a plug and socket can contribute to a score measured in gallons, then Audi expects to achieve about 188mpg in official tests, paired with a CO2 baseline of 35g/km. As with all plug-in hybrids, both mpg and CO2 will come out much worse on longer journeys than short ones, due to the waning contribution of the mains-charged battery.

There’s been no word yet on price, alas. But expect the e-tron to arrive at the top of the A3 Sportback price list, which currently runs from £19,825 for the 1.4 TFSI in SE trim, all the way to £27,180 for the 1.8 TFSI auto in S-Line trim.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron front side view

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