2014 Audi A3 e-tron: Full Details On Audi's Plug-In Hybrid

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"We're proud the Audi A3 e-tron doesn't look like an electric car."


If Audi is truly serious about electric vehicles, that probably isn't the phrase we'd have chosen to prove it, while showing off its new plug-in hybrid A3 model.

But then, the Ingolstadt automaker might be on to something--for every customer that wants their electrically-powered car to stand out from the crowd and inform the world they're driving a green vehicle, there are plenty more who'd rather not shout about it.

And while the bright red A3 e-tron looked shiny and sophisticated in Audi's carefully orchestrated launch environment, out on the road it'll look very much like any other A3. Few will know just how different it is under the skin.

Audi's prose might still have hinted at an underlying cynicism in electric vehicles, but the car's engineering suggests anything but.

Plug-in hybrid

Unlike the original A3 e-tron prototypes, and indeed most other e-tron concepts over the last few years, the production vehicle is a plug-in hybrid, rather than a battery electric vehicle.

In the nose you'll find a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine, working with an electric motor. Together, they produce 204 horsepower and a punchy 258 pounds-feet of torque, much of which is developed usefully low down.

It's sent through what Audi calls its e-S tronic transmission--essentially Audi's standard dual-clutch automatic, with 75 lbs of electric motor sandwiched between the car's dual-mass flywheel and clutch.

The setup is remarkably compact. Audi moved the engine further to the right of the engine bay (or the left, if viewed from in front of the car), the electric motor and transmission sitting beside.

Much of the car's low-revs power stems from the electric motor, with the gasoline engine taking over at 2,200 rpm as it creeps into the meat of its torque band.

Lively acceleration is therefore a given, the 0-62 mph sprint dealt with in 7.6 seconds and only running out of steam at 138 mph. Battery power alone can be used up to 80 mph.

Braking is almost entirely done using the motor's regenerative resistance, though hard braking will rely on friction brakes, as in most electric vehicles.

2014 Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid presentation, Berlin

2014 Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid presentation, Berlin

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Batteries and range

96 lithium-ion cells sourced from an external company make up the A3 e-tron's battery pack, though everything else about the battery has been developed and constructed by Audi itself.

It weighs 275 pounds, a weight reduced with extensive use of aluminum, and liquid cooled to an ideal 77 Fahrenheit. Trunk space is essentially unaffected by the battery's location (and the gas tank has been moved forward, now over the rear axle).

The pack is rated at between 250-400V and has 8.8 kWh of capacity, enough for around 30 miles of range on the European cycle.

With 10.5 gallons of gasoline also available, total range is said to be 584 miles--though again, this is on the more optimistic European fuel cycle. Bank on around 460 miles or so once the e-tron is EPA-rated.

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Comments (11)
  1. So, it looks like that Audi is allowing a deeper % of the battery to be used. A 8.8KWh battery with 80% derating is only 7KWh. @3miles/KWh, that is barely 21 miles. Or if only used for slower mode, then it will probably do 3.5 miles/KWh, which leads to up to 25 miles in EV range.

  2. Thanks for the insight, Xiaolong. Also worth noting that the 30-mile figure is in European testing, which doesn't accurately represent real-world use and may result in a more favorable energy use than your numbers.

    It wouldn't surprise me if the e-tron hits the U.S. with an electric range closer to your 21-mile figure.

  3. I think you are right. Maufacturing suggested "range" is usually optimistic. We have already seen the other articles covering VW's 261mpg claims and how that turns out.

    Based on the current A3 price, I would have to guess that this is at least a $40k plugin. Probably going to be a direct competitor against C-Max Energi and the Volt. Its performance sounds better than both of them.

  4. The Volt has had a Departure Time based charging from the get-go (2.5 years on the market) so Audi is not bringing anything new in this regard.

    Any idea on the pricing or if it will be available in all states?

  5. Antony, do you have any evidence to back up the claim "for every customer that wants their electrically-powered car to stand out from the crowd and inform the world they're driving a green vehicle, there are plenty more who'd rather not shout about it"? That may be the conventional meme, but I am curious why you think that this is a given.

  6. Because not every plugin buyer is a former Prius owner...

  7. So I am permanently being censured on this site? Can someone please explain why?

  8. @John: Not quite sure what you're referring to here, if you meant we were censoring you. It takes a few minutes for comments to show up on the page after you post them. Is that what happened?

  9. I hope this announcement i is not another premature one , as when the vw diesel was " coming soon" . I waited nearly THREE years for a Golf diesel. It was one six month delay followed by another and another and then another year plus after the Jetta diesel before the Golf finally showed up! I gave up and bought a Mazda 3!

  10. It sounds like a nice car that will be fun to drive. That's what we need to get more people exposed to electric vehicle ownership. The somewhat small battery capacity means it may only qualify for part of the Federal tax incentive ($4,500 or so?) but those who generally purchase Audi products probably don't need to rely on the incentives as much as us poor folk. No loss of cargo volume or passenger packaging. Great performance and decent EV range. Good looks. Bravo Audi.

  11. I too am interested in the pricing on this. I could go with an i3 REX or save ~10k and get this instead. If the price is right. I know not the same class of vehicle. i3 is electric first and can be only Electric. Not so with the A3

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