First impressions of Audi A3 e-tron Sportback

First impressions of Audi A3 e-tron Sportback

The CEO of German luxury car manufacturer Audi, Rupert Stadler, recently confirmed to the press that he views plug-in hybrids as the company's future.

The Audi A3 e-tron is Audi's first production vehicle to use this technology. Next year there will be a brand new A6 e-tron and hot on its heels will follow a Q7 e-tron.

Slotted into the body of the A3 Sportback - modified for the e-tron with S-line bumpers, a slim-sparred chrome grille and custom-built 17-inch alloy wheels - is a 1,400cc turbo engine. This pushes out a fairly unimpressive 148bhp for such an expensive car; however, the clever bit is that it is fitted with an electric motor, which produces 101bhp, integrated into the vehicle's six-speed double-clutch gearbox. Combined the system pushes out 350Nm of torque.

This is enough to provide the A3 e-tron with a 0-62mph acceleration figure of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 138mph. The low-set, mid-mounted battery pack weighing 125kg slows the car down a bit, of course, but it also provides better weight distribution than the average diesel model. The MQB platform of the A3 also weighs about 90kg less than the previous model, so the total weight of 1,540 kg is really not that bad.

While A3s are better known for their refinement, grip and safety understeer than driver engagement, the A3 e-tron nevertheless has a lot to offer in this respect. The driving position is excellent and the amount of torque on tap is always enough to provide a gratifying experience.