Audi A3 e-tron
A fascinating alternative to those seeking to dip a toe into a largely electrified future without wanting to go the whole knees-up, hold your nose and bomb into the deep end approach as exemplified by the flawed-but-brilliant BMW i3.
The A3 e-tron looks pretty much like any other A3, so if you don’t want to stand out from the crowd as a wacky post-modern eco-warrior, you don’t have to. And while the BMW i3 is either entirely electric, or can use a tiny petrol engine to buy you a bit more range when needed, the A3 is exactly the other way around: most of its power still comes from a 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine, with a sizeable boost from its lithium ion batteries and electric motor. So while an i3 can easily do 120 miles on electric power alone, the A3 will only do 30, but whereas you’d not get more than 180 miles out of an i3 even with the scooter engine addition, the A3 will do over 300 and can be filled as easily and quickly as any other car.
Nevertheless the e-tron should get most commuters to work and back on electricity alone, while its battery can be charged in as little as four hours from a standard plug, or half that time from a public source. You can even ask the engine to charge the battery, though your fuel consumption will fall through the floor while it does.
So for someone looking for a discreet, tax-efficient, congestion zone-exempt commuter car already protected against the emissions-free cities of the future, the e-tron has a great deal going for it. And for those who like to drive, a 0-62mph time of 7.6sec is not to be sniffed at either.
Audi asks a lot of money for the e-tron, but it’s conspicuously well equipped and, for a certain kind of customer living a certain kind of life, will probably answer many questions on getting about the place, and possibly one or two they’ve not even thought of yet.
- Engine: 1395cc, 201bhp
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Top speed: 138mph
- 0-60mph acceleration: 7.6sec
- This model from: £35,690
- Claimed economy: 176.6mpg
- VED: Group A
- Insurance Group: 29 (1=low, 50=high)