Outside of the Audi range, the A3 e-tron’s most obvious rival - the new BMW i3 - is priced from $63,900 in pure electric-vehicle form, and $69,900 when purchased with a range-extending petrol engine.
Holden’s now retired Volt was also a rival on price, at $59,990 plus on-roads, although less so in terms of brand cachet.
Audi expects to sell around 10 of its new A3 Sportback e-tron models each month in Australia, with around 40 secured through pre-orders already.
By comparison, BMW Australia sold 12 i3 EVs in June, with year-to-date sales sitting at 89.
For Audi, the A3 e-tron represents the establishment of a new “pillar” for the brand, with local communications executive Shaun Cleary telling CarAdvice last year that buyers will soon get to know e-tron as a familiar third drivetrain technology alongside TSI petrol and TDI diesel models.
Power in the A3 e-tron is provided by a petrol-electric arrangement that partners a 110kW 1.4 TFSI four-cylinder petrol engine with a 75kW electric motor.
Audi claims a total system output of 150kW, with maximum torque listed at 350Nm - the latter bettering the 320Nm offered with the A3’s 2.0 diesel engine and falling only a little short of the S3’s 380Nm.
Audi promises a pure-electric driving range of up to 50 kilometres, but with the petrol and electric motors working together, there’s a claimed 920 kilometre range.
Fuel consumption is rated at 1.6 l/100km, with CO2 emissions listed at 37g/km.
The plug-in hybrid system draws energy from an 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack, and a full charge via a dedicated 230-volt high-output 16-amp single-phase power outlet at home - offered as standard equipment - can be achieved in around 2.5 hours.
Audi adds that it has partnered with Origin Energy for the federal government's GreenPower program, giving each new A3 e-tron customer a certificate confirming that up to the first 10,000km of grid-charged electric driving is offset by accredited renewable energy displacements.
Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle today described the A3 e-tron as an “innovative and extraordinarily efficient” option, while promising the same practicality and versatility that buyers expect from a five-door hatch.
“Urban dwellers can commute each day in pure electric mode, and you only need to charge the battery overnight. If you want to drive a longer distance, then the combination of the electric motor and petrol engine together gives you the kind of range that people are accustomed to.
It’s an easy concept for customers to understand, which is why we’ve already seen such strong interest,” said Mr Doyle.
That doesn’t translate to an identical storage capacity, however, with the A3 Sportback e-tron’s 280 litres in the rear falling a full 100 litres short of the regular A3 Sportback hatch’s space.
Fold the seats flat, though, and that capacity grows to 1120 litres in the e-tron - the same amount you’ll find in the petrol and diesel versions.
The switch to a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain hasn’t dented the A3’s safety credentials, either, with the e-tron carrying a 5-Star ANCAP safety rating.
Standout standard features in the new A3 e-tron include:
- Audi drive select
- Audi Parking system plus; front and rear parking sensors with rear view camera and park assist
- Efficient LED headlights with LED daytime running lights
- Convenience key
- Sport front seats, with leather appointed seat upholstery
- Multi-function leather sport steering wheel with paddle shift
- Audi Music Interface
- Bluetooth with audio streaming
- Digital radio (DAB+)
- MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch (7.0-inch retractable WVGA screen, DVD player, 2 x SDHC memory card readers, voice control, 20 GB HDD storage)
Audi A3 e-tron pricing (before on-road costs):
A3 Sportback e-tron
1.4 TFSI + electric motor - $62,490
Range pricing (before on-road costs):
1.4 TFSI - $35,900
1.6 TDI - $36,900
1.4 TFSI COD - $38,500
1.8 TFSI - $43,100
2.0 TDI - $43,200
1.8 TFSI quattro - $46,100
1.4 TFSI COD - $40,100
1.8 TFSI - $45,400
2.0 TDI - $45,500
1.8 TFSI quattro - $48,400
1.4 TFSI COD - $47,600
1.8 TFSI - $52,200
2.0 TDI - $52,200
1.8 TFSI quattro - $55,200
Sportback - $61,100
Sedan - $63,400
Cabriolet - $70,500