Integrating a conventional petrol engine and an electric motor, the advanced plug-in hybrid offers impressive performance, exceptional efficiency and, equally crucially, complete freedom from 'range anxiety'.
The electrification of the drivetrain, above all using plug-in technology, will play a decisive role in the model strategy of the Vorsprung durch Technik brand. This latest development is designed to give some insight into how the technology will take shape in the Audi models of the future.
A modified 1.4-litre TFSI unit, in this application featuring a peak power output of 150PS, provides the more 'conventional' input for the A3 e-tron. A clutch links this to a 75kw electric motor, which is integrated into a newly designed six-speed 'e-S tronic' transmission sending power to the front wheels. Combined, the two power units generate 204PS of system power and 350PS of system torque, good for a 0-62mph sprint of 7.6 seconds and a top speed of 138mph. Peak torque from the electric motor is instantly available from rest to around 2000 rpm, and maximum torque from the TFSI engine is on hand between 1,750 and 4,000 rpm.
Equally importantly, according to the ECE standard for plug-in hybrid cars, the A3 Sportback-based e-tron is capable of covering up to 188mpg with CO2 emissions of just 35g/km.
The Audi A3 e-tron can run exclusively on electric power for up to 31 miles at speeds of up to 80mph, or can be powered by petrol combustion alone. Alternatively, the hybrid mode brings both units into play, and the driver can choose to run these simultaneously – a function known as 'boosting'. 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.