2015 Audi A3 e-tron Road Test and Review.
After once being considered little more than “science experiments” on wheels, Australians are increasingly turning to and trusting in hybrid vehicles.
Audi has become one of the latest players in a growing field of manufacturers offering petrol/electric models, the German brand joining the likes of Toyota, Lexus, Honda and Mitsubishi as hybrid flag wavers.
I’m pleased to report that Audi’s first hybrid model available in Australia is a winner.
The 2015 Audi A3 e-tron is what it’s called and prices kick-off from $62,490.
Remember that talk about science experiments on wheels? Well, the Audi hybrid looks essentially like any other Audi A3.
The only give-away though is the lower case e-tron badge and, more subtly, the plastic lock hidden in the Audi badge in the grille.
Twist that and you will have access to the charging point for the battery pack. You see, this hybrid is a little different to most other hybrid offerings as it gives you the option of topping up your batteries from your home power supply.
Charging time at home is around five hours or, using an industrial 3 phase power source, half that. The Audi A3 e-tron itself has a charging program in the computer; once plugged in and turned on, a green light will flash to indicate charging is underway and glows steady when done.
There’s a kinetic energy recovery system as well, pulling charge into the batteries under brakes. I managed a best of under 40 kilometres from full charge, that’s adequate I suppose, but not great.
But, being an Audi, there’s not a lot of compromise when it comes to get up and go. Maximum power and torque outputs are 110kW and 250Nm and this is more than enough to get the A3 e-tron moving along quite nicely.
The Audi A3 e-tron covers the 0-100km/h sprint in just 7.6 seconds.
Sure, in electric mode acceleration isn’t as brisk, though with four drive modes you have plenty of selection over driving dynamics and, understandably, how efficiently you are moving along. Audi claims fuel consumption as low as just 1.6L/100km!
A smooth six-speed automatic transmission comes as standard in the Audi hybrid.
Steering is rapid and direct, while ride quality is soft, in a luxurious way. Handling gets a pass mark, despite some fairly noticeable body-roll.
The cabin is essentially the same as every other Audi A3. Really, the only noticeable difference is a charge dial, rather than the traditional tachometer.
Standard features inside the Audi A3 e-tron cabin include a reverse parking camera, tilt and reach steering adjustment, eight-speaker stereo with DVD player and digital radio, sat-nav and dual-zone climate control.
As always, Audi has extra Assistance and Comfort Packages available, as well as another of other options that can help you blow the budget!
The 2015 Audi A3 e-tron joins the rest of the Audi A3 line-up with a full five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Summing it up; until fuel cell cars become a genuine player we are going to have to increasingly accept hybrid-powered cars.
In saying that, hybrids are much better than they used to be and the Audi A3 e-tron is top of the class.
The computer integration built into the car by Audi, which allows the driver just that much more flexibility of how the petrol engine synchronises with the battery system is a winner, the relative lack of battery range though is prohibitive.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2015 Audi A3 e-tron
Engine: 1.4 litre petrol/electric hybrid producing 110kW and 250Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic (only)
Safety: Five star
Warranty: Three years
Price: from $62,490
Dave Conole owns and writes the independent vehicle review and news website – A Wheel Thing.