Review
0 Comment

Preview: Audi A3 e-tron

Electric Audi may shatter the image of dull fuel-sipping hybrids

BERLIN?Audi really knocked it out of the park when it chose the German capital to host its recent showcase of electric technologies.

Sure, the automaker?s home to the southwest in Ingolstadt would have also served as a suitable location, but it?s hard to imagine that city matching Berlin?s intrinsic charm and fascination. This eastern town is truly one of the world?s great cities ? a dynamic mix of new and old, east and west, a place where history seems both distant and immediate at the same time.

Audi chose the city?s legendary Tempelhof airport, a sprawling facility (now closed to the public) that played a vital role in the 1948 Berlin airlift, as the site of its electric technology workshop ? dubbed the Audi future lab tron-experience ? featuring several of its new electric models.

Among these vehicles ? which included the Europe-only (for now) natural-gas-powered A3 g-tron, the A1 e-tron (also Europe only), and the awe-inspiring A8 e-tron, a car the company isn?t going to build because it can?t do so profitably ? is the A3 e-tron Sportback, a five-door plug-in hybrid that will eventually make its way to Canada.

Related: Audi RS7 test drive ? this is how you make someone want you

Unfortunately, Audi brought just one copy of the car to the event for display purposes, so my observations aren?t based on driving experiences, but instead come from the company?s product presentation and time spent poking and prodding the car afterwards.

From the outside, the A3 e-tron looks just like its gas-powered sibling. Whether this is a good or bad thing depends on how you feel about Audi?s corporate look these days. Many of its cars so closely resemble one another that they can be hard distinguish at first glance, particularly from the front.

Personally, I?m not too fussed about it. I like the taut, lightly creased and futuristic look these cars carry, so the fact that the e-tron has the same design cues doesn?t bother me in the slightest.

It?s much the same story on the inside, where the car is finished in high-quality materials, including leather seats and brushed-metal accents. A straightforward, uncluttered instrument cluster and centre console greets the driver and passenger.

Under the skin, the e-tron is powered by a 1.4-litre turbo-charged four-cylinder gas engine, which works in concert with a 75-kilowatt electric motor and a lithium ion battery. Total horsepower output is rated at 204, the bulk of which comes from the gas engine (150).

The engine produces a fair amount of torque (184 lb.-ft.) given its size, and peak output begins at just 1,750 r.p.m. Power is put to the ground via a new six-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission, dubbed the e-S Tronic.

Because Audi is a performance brand, the A3 e-tron is designed to deliver both impressive power and efficiency. According to preliminary testing, the car will go from zero to 100 km/h in just 7.6 seconds and has a top speed of 222 km/h.

On the flipside, Audi has also engineered the car for efficiency. In full electric mode, it delivers a sparkling 1.5 L/100 km fuel-economy rating and can travel up to 50 km on a single charge.

Total combined range is pegged at 940 km. And lest anyone thinks performance is sacrificed in all-electric mode, think again ? it has a top speed of 130 km/h with the gas engine off.

The battery was developed in-house by Audi, has 96 cells (made by Panasonic/Sanyo), four cooling plates and weighs 125 kilograms. Charging is accomplished with a standard charging unit that connects to a socket cleverly hidden behind the interlocking rings on the front grille. Audi claims a full charge takes about 3.5 hours using a 220-volt outlet.

The A3 e-tron has four driving modes: default (full electric), auto (self-selecting hybrid), hold (battery power conservation for later use) and charge (gas-engine only). All four modes can be used in either regular Drive or Sport. The car can also save energy in Coasting Mode, where the gas engine and electric motor are disengaged from the driveshaft.

In summary, the A3 e-tron offers an impressive array of efficiency and performance technologies, and should help shatter the myth that hybrids are dull fuel-sippers.

The only downside is we?re going to have to wait a while to experience it on the road. The car is not scheduled to land here until mid-2014 at the earliest.

wheels@thestar.ca

  • Preview: Audi A3 e-tron Subject: Audi A3 e-tron photos On 2013-07-26, at 6:23 PM, Toronto Star, Wheels wrote: Hello, Three Audi A3 e-tron photos by Lee Bailie for his preview in Wheels. From: Lee Bailie [mailto:leebailie@hotmail.com] Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:18 AM To: Toronto Star, Wheels Subject: Audi A3 e-tron photos Hello, Apologies, but I just remembered that I normally reduce the file sizes for images I submit. The first two I sent were at full res. The three that are attached are somewhat reduced, but should be fine for the paper and/or web. Let me know if there are any issues. Thanks, Lee Bailie IMG_5141.jpg IMG_5202.jpg IMG_5168.jpg
  • Preview: Audi A3 e-tron Subject: Audi A3 e-tron photos On 2013-07-26, at 6:23 PM, Toronto Star, Wheels wrote: Hello, Three Audi A3 e-tron photos by Lee Bailie for his preview in Wheels. From: Lee Bailie [mailto:leebailie@hotmail.com] Sent: Thursday, July 25, 2013 9:18 AM To: Toronto Star, Wheels Subject: Audi A3 e-tron photos Hello, Apologies, but I just remembered that I normally reduce the file sizes for images I submit. The first two I sent were at full res. The three that are attached are somewhat reduced, but should be fine for the paper and/or web. Let me know if there are any issues. Thanks, Lee Bailie IMG_5141.jpg IMG_5202.jpg IMG_5168.jpg
Show Comments