As another Geneva Motor Show approaches, so too does another Audi e-tron debut – this time a plug-in hybrid version of the A3 Sportback. It’s the third e-tron concept – following on from the A1 and R8 models which failed to reach production.
The A3 e-tron uses a petrol/electric powerplant capable of 188mpg and CO2 emissions of 35g/km, while reaching a top speed of 81mph. It has a 31-mile maximum range in electric mode, but its lithium-ion batteries can be charged either from a socket (when stationary) or by recuperating energy while coasting.
This latest e-tron development is designed to provide insight into Audi models of the future, but as with previous concepts you won’t be able to buy one. The cost of batteries remains too high (without significant subsidies), when compared to alternative energy sources, so while manufacturers wait for a better answer (perhaps combined with fuel cells) they continue developing their concepts and catching the attention of potential customers.
The A3 e-tron uses a modified 1.4-litre TFSI unit producing 148bhp, supported by a 75kw electric motor, which is integrated into a newly designed six-speed ‘e-S tronic’ transmission sending power to the front wheels.
Combined together, the units generate 201bhp and 258lb-ft (350Nm) of torque, good for a 0-62mph sprint of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 138mph.
The car can be driven exclusively in either petrol or electric modes, or when switched to hybrid operation – a function known as ‘boosting’, both units combine to deliver the car’s maximum performance. When the driver stops accelerating in this mode, both motors temporarily deactivate, eliminating motor braking torque and allowing the car to glide to conserve fuel and recuperate energy.
With such impressive acceleration on hand, it’s good to hear that the A3 e-tron is capable of 188mpg with CO2 emissions of just 35g/km. One of these days you might be able to buy something similar.