Audi has just added its own breeze to a collective wind of change that is gathering in the car industry. It is blowing in, accompanied by a whole host of acronyms and initials, falling like hi-tech autumn leaves in the motorists’ general direction.So, do you know your OLEV from your PHEV?
What about the ECE Standard? I’ll leave you to look them up.They are all to do with hybrid vehicles, those motors that run on a mix of traditional fuel and electricity to make driving cleaner, greener and more efficient.Audi’s first step on this particular path draws on knowledge gained in motor racing, the company having twice conquered Le Mans with a hybrid car.On the road, Audi is offering an A3 Sportback with a 1.4-litre petrol engine and a 75 KW electric motor, weighing 34 kilograms. Dubbed the A3 e-tron, it is available to order, with first deliveries in January, and Flush Magazine was there for the launch in the North East.
The company says that electric power makes 176mpg and Co2 emissions of 37g/km possible, the latter figure making the car road tax-free. This five-door hybrid is no slouch, with a combined 240bhp of system power, moving the car from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 137mph. All this might sound a bit high-techy and complicated, but the reality is simple, with the driver able to choose from four settings at the push of a button. There is EV mode, which gives priority to electric drive, hybrid auto mode which engages the electric motor wherever possible (good for long journeys), hybrid hold mode which preserves the battery charge for later use (like city driving) and hybrid charge mode which uses the petrol engine to charge the battery. There is also a plug-in capability to allow charging from home or street power-points, with charging times of four hours for the former and two hours for the latter.
On the road, the car feels silky, imperceptibly switching from electric to petrol propulsion as circumstances dictate and laying down its power smoothly via an automatic gearbox.The technology means there is no compromise in daily use and the e-tron feels like an ‘ordinary car’, even though the name might sound rather Flash Gordon-ish.The only difference you may spot from a regular A3 are some subtle exterior detailing tweaks.It’s a wind of change … but a stylish and sophisticated one.
OTR (inc £5,000 government subsidy).
For more info visit www.audi.co.uk