Whilst Audi's fully electric range continues to only exist in the stratospherically priced – and equipped – e-tron, its PHEV range is at least bringing some electrification to the rest of the model range. The latest instalments have the potential to be very popular, coming in the form of the A3 Sportback 40 and 45 TFSI e.
Taking over from the previous generation A3 Sportback e-tron, the simpler 'e' designation advances things in the equipment and powertrain stakes, offering a compelling blend of performance, electric range and a price tag which is only mildly wince-inducing.
Under the bonnet sits Audi's tried-and-tested 1.4 litre TFSI petrol engine which is good for 148bhp and 184lb-ft of torque available between 1550 and 3500rpm for a brawny mid-range. This is supplemented by a lighter, more compact and more energy dense version of the electric motor found in the previous generation A3 e-tron. Integrated into the six-speed S tronic transmission housing, it produces 107bhp and a stout 243lb-ft of torque.
Total system power is 201bhp and 258lb-ft of torque, enabling the A3 Sportback e to hit 62mph in 7.6 seconds and go on to a top speed of 141mph. It does all this whilst delivering 282.5mpg and 31g/km on the WLTP test cycle. In zero-emissions mode, the 13kWh battery enables the A3 to travel for up to 41 miles at speeds of up to 87mph. By default, as long as the temperature is above -28C, the car will always start in EV mode. Regenerative braking at up to 0.3g – suitable for most braking events – can claw back up to 40kW of energy on the move.
Using a home wall box with the supplied Type 2 charging cable, the A3 Sportback TFSI e can be charged from empty to full in around four hours, and while out on the road, the myAudi app can be used to locate the nearest public charging point. Owners can also benefit from Audi Charging Services' RFID single card access and payment system, which is used by 18 suppliers across the country.
Update 14.12.20: Audi has added a more powerful version of the PHEV powertrain in the form of the A3 Sportback 45 TFSI e, bringing a bit more fun to proceedings. The mechanical and electrical components are exactly the same, and individually produce the same power as they do in the 40. However, Audi has altered the mapping to mean that now, 242bhp and 295lb-ft is on offer.
Performance wise, the A3 45 TFSI e will sprint from 0-62mph in 6.8 seconds and hit 144mph flat out. Despite this solid turn of speed, the car is also capable of up to 37 miles (WLTP) of emissions free driving thanks to the 13kWh battery. This also helps deliver the official 235.4mpg and 29g/km, whilst charging is exactly the same as with the 40.
On the outside there isn't a lot to tell the difference between the regular A3 Sportback and the TFSI e version, save for an additional port for charging and LED daytime running lights which generate an e-shaped light signature to reflect the car's 'e' designation as a PHEV. LED headlights are standard, with matrix LED lamps a cost upgrade.
Inside, there's 280 litres of luggage capacity in the rear hatch with the rear seats in position which expands to 1100 litres with them folded. An electrified, foot-activated tailgate is available as an option. Rear privacy glass completes the look.
Inside, the new A3 Sportback 40 and 45 TFSI e get a central 10.1 inch MMI touchscreen, featuring the latest third-generation modular infotainment platform, which has 10 times more processing power than its predecessor. This gives access to all media, navigation and web-based functions of the car, and can be controlled through touch, voice or even handwriting recognition. Navigation is integrated with Google Earth to receive live traffic updates and plan routes intelligently, whilst other information such as local weather, fuel pricing and points of interest can be easily found. The car can also be turned into a Wi-Fi hotspot if required.
A full suite of driving aids is available through the Driving Assistance Pack, which includes adaptive cruise control capable of assisting with not only acceleration and braking, but also steering. A Comfort and Sound pack upgrades the standard stereo to a Bang & Olufsen system, whilst an Ambient Lighting pack enables owners to select from 30 ambient cabin colours.
On the outside, the 45 TFSI e gets a few design tweaks to denote its additional power. These include a styling package which darkens various exterior trim elements, new 18 inch Y-spoke wheels behind which sit larger brakes with red calipers.
The Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e is available to order straight away with prices starting at £33,060 on the road. This puts it just under £1500 more than the Golf GTE with which the Audi shares much of its architecture and powertrain, and we suspect around £3000 more than the forthcoming SEAT Leon e-hybrid – the pricing for which is to be announced soon. The price for the 45 will be announced closer to the early 2021 launch.
If you need four rings on the front of your car, the Audi stacks up as a decent package in the premium hatch segment.
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