German car manufacturer Audi introduced a plug-in hybrid version of its highly acclaimed A3 Sportback model back in 2014 and gave it a facelift last autumn, so a recent test gave me an opportunity to assess its qualities and check for any weaknesses.
The A3 Sportback has earned itself a fully deserved reputation as an excellent premium class five door hatchback with attractive external styling and various fuel, engine size and trim options, but is this latest version of the plug-in hybrid model worth the additional purchase cost?
The interior is beautifully crafted with plenty of soft touch materials and quality switchgear and the dashboard layout is logical and clear. The range of standard equipment is highly impressive and it’s easy to find a comfortable driving position. Interior space is more than adequate, but boot capacity is a little limited compared to a standard A3 Sportback due to the relocated petrol tank with the batteries being under the rear seat.
So, what’s it like to drive? The car offers almost hot hatch pace with great refinement and only minimal impact from the additional weight of the batteries. Once fully charged, the car can be driven for typically up to 20 miles in silent EV mode with the petrol engine dormant. Alternatively, if you select Hybrid the engine management system best uses a combination of available petrol and electrical power or with the Battery Hold option it makes the petrol engine do all the work whilst protecting stored battery power for later use. Despite the exceptionally high official average mpg figure, in real driving conditions upto 50mpg is more realistically achievable.
In conclusion, this car exudes quality, but if you undertake many high speed motorway journeys a cheaper non-hybrid A3 may be a better option. However, if your driving mix also includes many shorter local trips with ready access to even a standard domestic charging point the e-tron could really come into its own. The minimal emissions mean no road tax is payable and for company car users the benefit-in-kind tax liability is very low.
At A Glance
Price £33,430 (after Government grant)
Engine size 1.4 litre
Top speed 138 mph
Official average mpg 166mpg
CO2 emissions 38g/km