Following the unveiling of the A3 saloon concept earlier in the year at the Geneva Motor Show, Audi has released another variation of the A3, again in saloon form, but this time with a petrol-electric hybrid engine.
The e-tron is the second Audi A3 saloon concept this year
What do I need to know about the Audi A3 e-tron concept?
The Audi A3 saloon concept was one of the highlights of the 2011 Geneva Motor Show in March, and the German carmaker has built on its success with the e-tron petrol-electric hybrid - first seen at the Auto Shanghai 2011 show.
While the saloon concept showcased at Geneva used a 2.5-litre Audi TT RS-derived TSI engine, the e-tron is a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid, with the electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries that can be pre-charged via the mains electricity supply.
Audi claims a 34-mile range running purely on electric power and, although no specifics have been revealed, the hybrid nature of the car should also improve the fuel economy and emissions of the turbo petrol engine.
Longer wheelbase should mean improved ride comfort
The elongated wheelbase allows a roomy interior for four passengers and a large, 410-litre boot. It should also mean improved ride comfort, too.
Audi has also used the A3 concept as a taster for new technology, including the seven-speed S tronic gearbox operated using touch-sensitive buttons, a touchpad on the MMI infotainment interface and speakers that move outwards by a few millimetres when the high-powered stereo is switched on.
The dashboard also shows a ‘power meter’ instead of a rev counter, and there’s on-board internet access – ideal for the iPad holders built into the back of the front seats.
Interior features include an updated MMI infotainment interface
What engines will the Audi A3 e-tron use?
The petrol engine being supplemented by an electric motor isn’t the usual run-of-the-mill efficient but low-powered unit. Instead, it’s a 1.4-litre engine with a turbocharger that boosts peak power to a whopping 208bhp - on par with the 2.0-litre engine used in the current VW Golf GTI. Combined with the additional 26bhp of the electric motor, the A3 e-tron can hit 62mph in 6.8 seconds and reach 144mph.
To make sure the engine is as efficient as possible, Audi has added start-stop and brake energy regeneration. And because the A3 e-tron’s doors, bonnet and tailgate are made from aluminium and there are carbonfibre reinforced plastics scattered around the body panels, the structure is fairly light. However, the A3 e-tron concept still tips the scales at a hefty 1,720kg – 495kg heavier than a current 1.6-litre petrol Audi A3 Sportback estate. That shows just how heavy plug-in hybrid battery technology is.
Read more about hybrid technology in our green car technologies guide.
The Audi A3 saloon is still a concept for now
When can I buy an Audi A3 e-tron?
The Audi A3 e-tron is still just a concept for now, but the fact that it’s the second A3 saloon concept this year means Audi is taking the idea of building a saloon version of the forthcoming third-generation A3 very seriously. Plug-in hybrid technology won’t be out of the question for the Audi range in the near future either.
Click here to read reviews of cars the Audi A3 saloon could be competing with.
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