A3 Sportback gets a plug-in hybrid powertrain for release at the Geneva Motor Show.
The Geneva Motor Show will not be without its hybrids and EVs this year, and Audi is coming with one of its own. Technically dubbed a concept, the A3 e-tron appears almost ready for production. If you're confused by the e-tron designation, that's because Audi has used it for both hybrids and pure EVs. This A3 bridges the gap as a plug-in hybrid, pairing a 150-horsepower 1.4-liter turbo four to a 100hp electric motor. When operating together, they can deliver 204 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.
If the math doesn't add up, remember that electric and internal-combustion motors seldom peak at the same levels. Torque from the electric motor has actually been limited to protect the six-speed dual-clutch transmission in which it is housed and through which it drives to the front wheels. Still, 0-62 is quoted at 7.6 seconds – not too shabby for a hybrid – and top speed at 138 mph. Audi has also fitted the A3 e-tron with a free-wheeling function that disengages the drivetrain to reduce friction while coasting down the highway, and internal instrumentation adapted to display charge levels and such.
Based on the A3 Sportback, the e-tron has a few styling tweaks as well, namely in the grille (bisected by 14 horizontal slats), the hidden exhaust pipe (it does, after all, still have a gasoline-burning engine) and unique 19-inch wheels. Hybrids and EVs typically run smaller rolling stock for lower resistance, so that bit will likely change when the A3 e-tron reaches production, with US availability considered a strong possibility.