The new Audi A3 Sportback e-tron offers the kind of performance you wouldn’t expect, and the kind of fuel economy unheard of in a conventional car. It’s even capable of travelling up to 31 miles using just electric power, which means you could make a whole journey without using a drop of fuel.
The full Price and Specification Guide is now available online, with a printed version coming very soon, so you’ll be able to create your own A3 Sportback e-tron. Just click the link to start exploring the options.
Audi is preparing to make a big step into the electrification of its lineup with the unveiling of its brand-new A3 e-tron. The model was unveiled at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show and will be put on sale in early 2014.
In case you have taken a little vacation under a rock for the last few years, Audi has been tossing around the e-tron designation since 2009. At the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show, Audi unveiled the first e-tron concept in the form of the 308-horsepower 2010 R8 e-tron.
Audi again dropped an e-tron concept in 2010 at the Detroit Auto Show with the A4-based concept that was rumored to see life in 2014. In concept guise, this model pumped out 201 horsepower and hit 60 mph in 5.9 seconds. This model, codenamed the 9X1, is supposedly under development and will hit production in 2014.
The e-tron line carried on with the A1 e-tron at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show, which produced 101 horsepower. Then, at the 2010 Paris Motor Show, the 2011 e-tron Spyder stopped the show with its 296-horsepower, 3.0-liter V-6 TDI engine and 86-horsepower electric motors that sprinted the convertible to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds.
At the 2013 Geneva Motor Show, Audi finally unveiled the first production e-tron model, in the form of the 2013 A3 Sportback e-tron.
|System Output||150 KW (204 Hp)|
|System Torque||350 Nm (258.15 Lb-Ft)|
|Output, 1.4 TFSI||110 KW (150 Hp)|
|Torque, 1.4 TFSI||250 Nm (184.39 Lb-Ft) From 1,750 To 4,000 Rpm|
|Output, Electric Motor||Max. 75 KW|
|Torque, Electric Motor||Max. 330 Nm (243.40 Lb-Ft)|
|Battery Capacity / Voltage||8.8 KWh / 280 To 390 Volts|
|0 – 100 Km/H (62 Mph)||7.6 S|
|Range In Electric Mode||Up To 50 Km (31.07 Miles)|
|Overall Operating Range In NEDC Cycle||Up To 940 Km (584.09 Miles)|
|Consumption Acc. To ECE Standard||1.5 L/100 Km (156.81 US Mpg)|
|CO2 Emissions Acc. To ECE Standard||35 Grams/Km (56.33 G/Mile)|
|Top Speed||222 Km/H (137.94 Mph)|
The Audi A3 e-tron will be put on sale in 2014. Prices will be announced at a later date.
Despite its e-tron badging, unlike the attention gathering Audi R8 e-tron prototype sports car, this model, due in the UK mid next year, is not a pure electric car but actually Audi’s first petrol–electric plug-in hybrid. Audi now believes this technology will be with us for a long time.
The company claims many urban drivers will rarely experience the petrol engine in the A3 Sportback e-tron if they recharge their plug-in car regularly thanks to a 30-mile electric only range. Hybrids though remain an expensive way to travel. First impressions suggest this e-tron could be quite a fun car to drive on a twisty road but that would be at the expense of fuel economy.
Definitely on the brisk side with 0-62mph acceleration in 7.6 seconds, compared to 11.4 seconds for example for a Toyota Prius, and an (untested) top speed of 138 mph thanks to 203 bhp on tap. The four-cylinder turbocharged and intercooled 1.4 litre petrol engine delivers 148bhp and 185 lbs ft of peak torque from 1,750rpm to 4,000rpm. The 75kW electric motor, which is integrated into the car‘s six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, provides 101bhp, enough for 80 mph, and 243 lbs ft of torque. The electric motor is located between the engine’s dual mass flywheel and a newly developed ‘separating’ clutch. When the petrol engine starts it is started by the electric motor via the clutch. Range in pure electric mode is up to 31 miles. Fuel economy on the combined cycle is 188 mpg.
This very early test drive was restricted to urban roads in Berlin and most drivers would think they were in a normal Audi A3 Sportback. The electrically assisted power steering felt a little wooden at times but acceleration and braking performance was very good. Audi says the car weighs less than 1580kg but with two adults aboard, the stiffer springing to cope with the weight of batteries, electric motor and electric air conditioning to keep the batteries at the best operating temperature, make for quite a firm ride. Total weight of the equipment is about 125kg – the batteries are over the rear axle. Audi has moved the 1.4 litre petrol engine slightly to the right, when viewed from the driver’s seat, to make room for various high voltage components and the disc-shaped electric motor.
There are two possibilities with hybrid car design: you make the car look futuristic as with the Vauxhall Ampera, or as standard as possible as with Audi’s A3 Sportback. The lower air intakes on this prototype have two horizontal metal strips, and the grille a multitude of shining horizontal strips. Horizontal strips are used at the rear instead of exhaust pipes, which are hidden. The car rode on unique pattern 19 inch wheels, which are likely to be restricted to the series-production model. Overall it’s a sleeker design than the previous Sportback incarnation and has a welcome increase in rear legroom thanks to a 58mm increase in wheelbase. Despite a smaller petrol tank than the non-hybrid car boot space reduces from 350 litres to 280 litres with the rear seats in use or from 1,220 litres to 1,120 litres with them folded down. The rear seats still split 40/60. It is 1425mm in length and 1780mm wide.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
As usual with a hybrid, driving couldn’t be simpler. Switch on the power, select drive on the automatic transmission, release the brake and press the accelerator and away you go. Release the accelerator at high speed and the car coasts with both drives deactivated. At lower speeds the systems recover energy. Energy is also collected during braking unless full braking is needed.
The driver can choose three programmes: sport, efficiency and EV. In EV priority is given to electric drive, while ‘hold’ stops battery use until you enter a low pollution zone such as a city. A power meter takes the place of the rev counter to show your driving style and consumption. Further displays show trip data, energy use and battery status. There are the usual good seats with a wide range of adjustment. Logical minor controls but hateful, potentially problematic electronic handbrake.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Under the ECE standard for plug-in hybrids the A3 e-tron’s carbon dioxide emissions are just 35g/km which equates to 188mpg. Using both electric motor and combustion engine the car has a range of 580 miles and a range of 30 miles on electric power alone. Over a short urban test route the car’s trip computer showed better than 100mpg. A London to Manchester trip would show something very different. From an industrial power socket full battery recharging takes slightly over two hours compared to nearly four hours from a home power socket. Modified cylinder liners and piston rings, together with a sensor to measure oil quality, help protect the petrol engine which would be frequently subjected to high loads while still cold during its life. Warranty is three years/60,000 miles.
Zero emissions are emitted from the tailpipe in electric only mode, and a start-stop system cuts off the petrol engine when not required in start-stop traffic. High speed coasting facility operates automatically to save fuel when easing off. The petrol engine has a diecast aluminium crankcase weighing only 100kg and benefits from low frictional losses to improve fuel consumption. When braking or decelerating the electric motor captures kinetic energy and stores it in the electric batteries. Low rolling resistance tyres, electrically assisted power steering and minimal use of air conditioning in eco mode also reduce fuel consumption. The engine exhaust manifold is integrated into the cylinder head so the coolant reaches operating temperature quickly. At high loads the water jacket lowers the temperature of the exhaust gases.
Audi says the e-tron will be highly specified as standard. The model is likely to have its own distinct trim level and customisation options too. Owners will be able to check their car’s status (battery charge, potential range etc) online and schedule charging and cabin heating or cooling using a smart phone. Test car had usual high spec sound system, satellite navigation, dual-zone air conditioning etc.
Model tested: Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
Body-style: Five-door hatchback
Engine/CO2: 148bhp 1395cc four-cylinder turbocharged petrol and 101bhp electric motor / 35 gCO2/km
Trim grades: To be confirmed
On-road price: From (estimated) £32,500
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Mid 2014
Review rating: 4.0 STARS