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Audi Unveils the A3 e-tron Concept

Designed as a plug-in hybrid, the A3 e-tron concept gets its power from two drive units–a 211 hp (155 kW) 1.4 TFSI four-cylinder engine with turbocharging and gasoline direct-injection as well as an electric motor with an output of 27 hp (20kW.) Together, they propel the A3 e-tron to 60 mph in 6.8 seconds before topping out at 143 mph. Lithium-ion batteries, located behind the rear seats, with a charge capacity of 12 kWh, give the A3 e-tron concept the capability to travel up to 54 km (34 miles) on electric power alone.

A seven-speed dual-clutch S-tronic serves as the drivetrain for this compact plug-in hybrid, which is the only component carried over from the original A3 concept that took inspiration from the RS3 Sportback. Comprised of two transmission structures that are operated by two clutches where gears are alternately shifted at lightning speeds, comfortably and without perceptible interruption of traction. The driver can chose between automatic or manual mode where shifting occurs at the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

Suspension components from the RS3 are carried over with the MacPherson design up front and a four-link independent rear end, along with 20-inch wheels wrapped in 245/30 R20 rubber at all four corners. The Audi drive select dynamic handling system gives the driver five modes that vary the interoperability of the engine, power-steering, and seven-speed S-tronic: comfort, auto, dynamic, individual, and efficiency (which is designed for maximum economy.)

The exterior design is reminiscent of typical Audi sporty elegance but “e-tronified” with a new grille and bumper framed by a carbon fiber-reinforced frame, aluminum hood, trunk and doors. On the inside, we find a generously proportioned interior along with a number of goodies like Audi’s next generation MMI system complete with a UMTS module to provide wireless internet, WLAN hotspot functionality, Google mapping, and POI search. iPad holders have been installed on the back of the front seat backrests.

There hasn’t been any confirmation as to when the concept might hit production lines but a toned-down version of the A3 sedan is due to hit the market late next year. So if Audi sticks to its “electric” roadmap, an e-tron variant could arrive by 2013. Follow us on Twitter or join our Facebook page to keep informed. Contact us if you have any questions or would like to discuss any of the technologies previously mentioned.

May 13rd, 2011