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Geneva show: Audi turns to CNG with A3 Sportback

G force: The ‘g-tron’ A3 Sportback runs on both petrol and compressed natural gas, offering emissions as low as 30g/km when measured on a well-to-wheel basis.

Audi prepares to launch clean, green ‘g-tron’ CNG version of its A3 Sportback

Audi logo4 Mar 2013

By TERRY MARTIN

AUDI has unveiled a ‘g-tron’ compressed natural gas version of its A3 Sportback ahead of its unveiling at this week’s Geneva motor show.

There is no Australian launch schedule for the new model, which in conventional-engine form arrives here in May, but will hit the European market later this year and offer buyers a green alternative that can run on petrol, CNG or Audi’s CO2-neutral synthetic methane ‘e-gas’.

The latter is a fuel to be produced at a world-first power-to-gas plant in Werlte, Germany, which is nearing completion and, using additional waste product from a nearby biogas plant, is designed to produce around 1000 metric tons of e-gas each year.

According to Audi, this is enough to power 1500 A3 Sportback g-tron vehicles 15,000km every year.

The g-tron engine is based on the 1.4-litre TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder developing 81kW of power and 200Nm of torque, and can send the vehicle from 0-100km/h in 11 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 190km/h.

Running on CNG or e-gas, the A3 Sportback consumes a claimed 3.5kg per 100km and emits less than 95 grams of CO2 per kilometre.

While the sub-100g/km figure is impressive, Audi claims the “greenhouse gas balance” is even more attractive when measured on a well-to-wheel basis that accounts for all factors from the fuel source to the car’s wheels, with CO2 emissions of less than 30g/km.

The CNG is stored in two special compact, lightweight and high-strength tanks located under the cargo floor that can each hold 7kg of CNG at a maximum 200 bar pressure.

Special displays are provided in the instrument cluster to show CNG fuel levels, while a second fuel filler neck is located with the petrol inlet under the regular flap.

CNG, which is available in Australia but largely used by trucks and buses, enables a driving range of around 400km on the Audi, with petrol providing another 900km if required – a total range that is roughly equivalent to a diesel-powered model (which emits more CO2) in the German car-maker’s range.

Audi says vehicle owners will obtain the e-gas at public CNG refuelling stations “via an ecological accounting¬ method”, similar to the method European consumers currently use to obtain ‘green’ electricity.

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