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Audi A3 Sportback e-tron enters the fray

Electric dreams: Audi's A3 Sportback e-tron is finally in Australian showrooms after a lengthy delay.

The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron ushers in new era for brand in Australia

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Audi logo28 Aug 2015

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

AUDI Australia has finally launched the first of what it hopes is a permanent electrification variant addition to all of its core models moving forward, with the A3 Sportback e-tron lobbing in showrooms this month.

On sale now from $62,490 plus on-road costs, the single-variant plug-in petrol-electric hybrid e-tron five-door hatch arrives after a near six-month delay due to strong demand in Europe, according to Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle.

Speaking to GoAuto at the electrified A3's launch in Bowral, New South Wales this month, Mr Doyle revealed that while the expected sales of 10 units per month is modest, the newcomer’s role will help solidify Audi’s position as a technological leader in this class.

Mr Doyle also added that the e-tron’s A3 Sportback packaging should show consumers how uncomplicated it is to access vehicles with electrification.

“The most important thing is to launch the A3 e-tron’s technology, infrastructure, and education concept into the marketplace, and making it as easy as possible for buyers to achieve that,” he said.

“The e-tron is just one of many opportunities in the A3 Sportback range. Customers do not have to be shopping for a hybrid… they come in, see it has everything that a normal A3 offers, but with an outstanding efficiency proposition.” Initially 16 dealerships spread across the larger capital cities will specialise in the e-tron, with each investing about $500,000 in showroom, sales/aftersales, and high-voltage training for technicians, according to Audi.

The German car-maker is holding about 40 orders, with 20 soon to be delivered.

The A3 Sportback e-tron undercuts the BMW i3 REx range extender plug-in EV by $6500, but is significantly more expensive than the only other vehicle of this ilk, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV from $47,490.

Several non plug-in hybrids of similar sizing cost less too, such as the Lexus CT200h (from $37,990) and Honda Accord Sport Hybrid from $58,990. Additionally, the Audi is also more expensive than the Lexus IS 300h from $57,000, and is only $5500 cheaper than the powerful Infiniti Q50 3.5h S from $67.900. Both luxury marques are from the next category up too.

Unveiled at the 2013 Geneva motor show, the A3 Sportback e-tron has taken more than two years to make it to Australia.

Driving the front wheels via a specially designed six-speed DSG dual-clutch transmission is a combination of a 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre four-cylinder TSI direct-injection turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine, and a 75kW/330Nm electric motor.

Together, they deliver 150kW and 350Nm of total system power and torque, 1.6 litres per 100 kilometres of fuel consumption and 37 grams of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometre.

Total EV range is 50km on average (we managed 59.7km on the test route), with a top speed of 130km/h in EV mode, or 222km/h in hybrid drive. Total range is said to be 920km. Weighing in, minus the driver, at 1540kg, the A3 Sportback e-tron dashes from 0-100km/h in 7.6 seconds.

Audi will provide the Type 1 vehicle charger with two interchangeable sockets, with charging times taking five hours with a 10-amp household socket or 2.5hr with an industrial socket (a dedicated single-phase 230v/16A circuit). The company says the total cost at peak time (50c/kWh) is $4.45, based on NSW residential cost of charging.

The price of fitting the charger in most household situations will be covered by Audi, though some exclusions do apply.

Standard features in the five-star ANCAP-scoring A3 Sportback e-tron include seven airbags, LED headlights, keyless entry, leather upholstery, MMI infotainment media with satellite navigation, Bluetooth streaming, DVD and DAB+ digital radio, Audi’s Drive Select system (allowing for Sport, Comfort, and Eco modes), a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and a tyre inflation kit.

The spare wheel gives way to the battery pack installed in a safety cradle beneath the back cushion, relocating the smaller 40-litre fuel tank to under the cargo area floor, for a 100L reduction in boot capacity (now rated at 280L). The rear seats fold as normally to extend that into the cabin as per usual.

2015 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron pricing*
e-tron (a) $62,490
*Excludes on-road costs

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