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Geneva show: Audi plugs in the A3

Best of both: With a standing sprint time of 7.6 seconds and fuel consumption less than half of a Prius, the Audi A3 e-tron is both fast and frugal.

Plug-in hybrid A3 hatch that uses just 1.5L/100km is Audi’s latest e-tron vehicle

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Audi logo22 Feb 2013

AUDI will preview a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid version of its brand new A3 small hatchback at the Geneva show on March 5.

As with the German company’s previous electrified models, the plug-in A3 is receives the e-tron moniker.

It combines sharp acceleration – zero to 100km/h is dealt with in 7.6 seconds – with fuel consumption of just 1.5 litres per 100km (and carbon dioxide emissions of 35 grams per 100km).

The e-tron will form part of a green vehicle assault from the Volkswagen Group at Geneva, with the company that owns Audi planning to show its own production XL1 EV and e-Golf concept.

The A3 joins the smaller A1 plug-in, now in its second iteration and undergoing German government-funded trials. Production has not been confirmed, but Audi certainly sounds positive about the technology.

“The Audi A3 e-tron will provide a realistic glimpse into the future of mobility as Audi is planning it,” the company said in a statement.

“The electrification of the drivetrain, above all using plug-in technology, plays a deciding role in the strategy of the brand.”

As reported in January, the Ingolstadt marque axed plans to produce electrified versions of the A2 hatchback and R8 supercar (also called e-tron) over concerns that customers were not ready to accept the limited range of pure electric cars.

Plug-in hybrids that give drivers the reassurance of a backup power source are seen as a viable solution.

The A3 e-tron’s running gear consists of a 110kW 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine linked to a 75kW disc shaped electric motor via a special clutch. Power is sent to the front wheels via a newly designed six-speed ‘e’ S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission.

Total system output is 150kW of power and 350Nm of torque – nigh on hot hatch figures – while Audi claims the two power sources “complement” each other.

Essentially, the motor provides peak torque from start-up through to 2000rpm, by which time the petrol engine’s peak torque has come on stream (at 1750rpm), before continuing all the way through to 4000rpm.

The e-tron can be driven with just the petrol engine, as a pure electric or as a combination of both.

When the driver lets up on the throttle, both sources de-activate temporarily.

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