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2011-04-20 12:48

SHOCK VALUE A3: The design looks stunning, but can Audi develop a battery pack light enough to make A3 e-tron viable?

Vehicle Specs
Manufacturer Audi
Model A3 e-tron
Engine 1.4 TSI, electric
Power 155kW, 20kW
Transmission Seven-speed DSG
Another auto show and Audi reveals yet another version of its e-tron.

As the Shangai auto show opened its doors, Audi was ready to wow showgoers with its new RS3-based e-tron.

Debuting at Shanghai, the A3 concept e-tron is the latest version of Ingolstadt's future vision of electric drive automobiles, a project started by the original E-tron back in 2009.

The design is bold, with an oversized grille (typical of contemporary Audi styling) and strongly defined shoulder line running along the A3 e-tron concept's flanks.

E-performance A3
Based on the architexture of Audi’s new A3 compact sedan performance car concept – first seen at the 2011 Geneva auto show – this latest e-tron variant replaces the modified 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbocharged engine seen in Geneva for something a little less frantic.

A3 concept e-tron's powertrain features a 12kWh lithium-ion battery, adding 20kW of electric urge to 155kW worth of internal-combustion power.

With a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine above the front axle, combined power output is 175kW – good enough to guarantee a 0-100km/h benchmark acceleration time of 7 seconds and 230km/h top speed.

Although reduced emissions (and fuel-consumption) are the raison de etre of all e-tron models, Audi’s not released any relevant figures for its A3 electric-hybrid. All Audi is willing to divulge at this time is that its lithium-ion battery pack is good for 55km worth of electric-power only range.

Despite its sophisticated hybrid powertain, the A3 e-tron features a conventional Audi drivetrain with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission driving all four wheels.

Suspension is independent all-round, with MacPherson struts front and a quad-linkage attaching the rear wheels. The A3 e-tron rolls 245/30 profile rubber on 20-inch wheels and it must said the concept’s proportions render a rather neat-looking compact sedan.

Inside there’s Audi’s next-generation MMI integrated infotainment system, WLAN hotspot functionality, Google mapping and a UMTS module to drive the car’s wireless internet.

Audi’s new A3 sedan is due later in 2012, with the e-tron version being promised for 2013. There is really only one rather significant design challenge for Audi’s engineers to address during the two years before it comes to market – weight reduction.

Although the A3 e-tron concept features all manner of clever construction (a composite frame with aluminium doors, bonnet and boot) it remains too heavy for a car aimed at compact sedan segment. At 1 720kg, A3 e-tron is nearly 180kg more than Audi’s Geneva auto show A3 concept. The reason? Those lithium-ion batteries in the boot...


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