AUDI

AUDI A3 SPORTBACK 40 TFSI e S line 5dr S Tronic

Fuel

FuelPetrol/PlugIn Elec Hybrid

Transmission

TransmissionAutomatic

Acceleration

0 - 62 mph7.6s

EC Combined (mpg)

EC Combined-

The Audi A3 40 TFSIe plug-in hybrid makes some interesting numbers. It's claimed to return 282.5mpg, emit 31g/km of CO2 and get to 62mph in just 7.6 seconds. Real world economy is around a third of this number, and the asking price isn't inexpensive but this is a very complete piece of Ingolstadt engineering.

TAKING A LEAD

The Audi A3 40 TFSIe plug-in hybrid looks to offer a smart way of combining petrol and electric power. Jonathan Crouch reports.

Ten Second Review

The Audi A3 40 TFSIe plug-in hybrid makes some interesting numbers. It's claimed to return 282.5mpg, emit 31g/km of CO2 and get to 62mph in just 7.6 seconds. Real world economy is around a third of this number, and the asking price isn't inexpensive but this is a very complete piece of Ingolstadt engineering.

Background

It'll be interesting to see how long the Plug-in Hybrid era lasts. Some European governments say they're already looking to ban cars like these by 2035 - which seems a bit premature, particularly as PHEV tech is now really getting into gear. To an extent showcased in the premium compact hatch segment by this car, the Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSIe. As you might know if you ran an example of this variant's direct predecessor, the A3 e-tron, plug-in models of this kind have a history of providing fairly feeble levels of all-electric range. The 40 TFSIe though, has a much bigger lithium-ion battery than that old e-tron model could offer and the result is a far more usable 41 mile WLTP-rated level of range - for lower-spec variants at least (the larger 18-inch wheels of 'S line' trim drop that figure to 37 miles).

Driving Experience

Conventional A3 Sportbacks offer a degree of electrification but the mild hybrid lower order petrol versions of this car aren't proper hybrids. If you want an A3 that is, you'll need the PHEV model, almost certainly the '40 TFSIe' variant we look at here. This plug-in hybrid borrows its drivetrain from a PHEV segment pioneer, Volkswagen's Golf GTE, which means a 150PS 1.4-litre TSI petrol engine mated to a 6-speed DSG auto gearbox. The 85kW electric motor this package works with is mated to a 13kWh lithium-ion battery that when fully charged can offer a WLTP-rated all-electric driving range of up to 41 miles. And a (rather academic) all-electric top speed of up to 80mph. Rely primarily on petrol power and the 62mph sprint occupies just 7.6s en route to 141mph. If you want to go faster in an A3 PHEV, you can talk to your Audi Centre about an alternative '45 TFSIe S line Competition' variant with a combined system output of 245PS - the same as a Golf GTI. Otherwise, it's just like any other A3 Sportback to drive. Differences with this MK4 design initially seem quite subtle, primarily centred around slightly sharper steering and handling that's now a little more responsive. That's thanks to a wider track and the introduction of a 'modular dynamic handling control system' that, based on steering movements, predictively co-ordinates interplay between all the car's dynamic systems - like a conductor with an orchestra - so the car can always be one step ahead of the drive inputs you want to make.

Design and Build

The 40 TFSIe is offered in the five-door A3 Sportback body and doesn't look a whole lot different to any other Sportback. There's some subtle badging at the back and the charging point is typically Audi-slick. Inside up front, there's an immersive style of ergonomic design - in the way the air vents combine with the instrument binnacle and the manner in which the centre screen and the re-designed climate controls just below have been canted towards the driver. Much effort has gone in to visually emphasise the width and spaciousness of this cabin, most notably with precise horizontal lines and surfaces. And you're going to really like the quality and classy design on show here. There's also what Audi calls a 'new level' of digital technology, a 10.25-inch Virtual Cockpit instrument binnacle display standardised and working in concert with a 10.1-inch 'MMI Navigation plus' centre stack monitor. Audi claims that this MK4 A3 Sportback's slight dimensional exterior size increase benefits passengers directly and, sure enough, they get more elbow room at the front and rear and more shoulder room in the rear. Headroom in the front's better too - though only because the driver's seat has been positioned a little lower for a slightly sportier feel. Out back, boot space falls from 380-litres in the standard model to just 280-litres in this one thanks to the battery pack beneath the floor.

Market and Model

The big issue for most buyers is whether they see this A3 40 TFSIe variant's £33,000 asking price as being justifiable when a 35 TDI 150PS diesel A3 Sportback model will typically cost around £4,000 less. That four grand would buy you a lot of black pump fuel. In terms of pure hard-headed finance, it's going to find it hard to justify sales against a diesel; in the short to medium term at least. 'Sport' and 'S line' versions of the A3 Sportback 40 TFSIe are factory fitted with 17-inch and 18-inch alloy wheels respectively, but as wheel size can bring about minor variations in the compact hatchback's electric-only driving range, customers have the option to go up or down in size depending on their preferences. Thus the 'S line' can be fitted with a 17-inch wheel as a no cost option so business users can still qualify for the six per cent BIK banding.The wheels are carefully controlled by a sophisticated multi-link suspension system combining refined ride comfort that complements the plug-in hybrid's hushed electric-only cruising with excellent stability and composure for occasions when the full 204PS output is put to good use on more challenging roads. By the way, you'll pay from around £36,500 for the more powerful 245PS 45 TFSIe model, which comes only in fully-specced 'S line Competition' trim.

Cost of Ownership

With 17-inch wheels, the quoted WLTP stats for a 40 TFSIe model are a fantasy land combined cycle fuel figure of 282.5mpg and a CO2 reading of up to 31g/km. That latter stat means a Benefit-in-Kind tax rating of just 6% (or 10% if you specify 'S line' trim with the larger 18-inch wheels). In comparison to a conventional 35 TFSI model, that'll cut your BiK tax payments by as much as 75%. At the time of this test in Autumn 2020, that meant a £792 annual outlay for a typical tax payer running a 40 TFSIe 'Sport' model, as opposed to the £3,200 per year that he or she would have shelled out running the equivalent 35 TFSI Sport variant. Do the maths and you'll find that means a saving of almost £10,000 over four years for a 40% tax payer; you can see the attraction. The downside with this fourth generation A3's evolved PHEV technology is that the extra cells inevitably take a bit longer to charge - think 4-5 hours when using an AC wall box in your garage (rated at 3.6kW and above). Because this Plug-in variant's onboard charging capacity was, from launch, limited to just 2.9kW, hooking the car up to the kind of 7kW garage wallbox you'd use for a full-EV won't make this Audi charge any faster, but future model updates might change that.

Summary

Although the headline numbers of 282.5mpg, 31g/km of CO2 and a 0-62mph time of just 7.6 seconds make the Audi A3 40 TFSIe appear quite a game-changer, look behind the numbers and you'll find things not quite so clear cut. In fact, a counter perspective might well be that you're paying around £4,000 over the top of an A3 Sportback 35 TDI 150PS diesel and getting a car that's slower, drinks more fuel, carries less luggage, offers inferior touring range and once out of charge will drink much more fuel. Of course, the A3 40 TFSIe has other benefits. It can run in a pure EV mode and it feels a far more special piece of kit than a diesel hatch. Can you put a price on that? You can perhaps if you measure the savings you'll make in company car tax. And this model certainly scores as a car you can drive as an EV on short commutes to work, but which is capable of long weekend trips. As a technical showpiece, it's an intriguing thing. As a sales proposition though, you might need to scour the small print quite carefully.

  • Rear wiper
  • Rear electric windows
  • Light and rain sensors
  • Front electric windows
  • Acoustic glass windscreen
  • Privacy glass - dark tinted rear window, rear door and side windows

  • Electronic Stabilisation Control (ESC) including ABS, ASR and EDL
  • Hill hold assist

  • Front/rear floor mats

  • Audi smartphone interface
  • Bluetooth interface
  • Voice control system with natural language interaction
  • Audi connect emergency call and service

  • Electromechanical power speed sensitive steering
  • Audi drive select (Auto, Comfort, Dynamic, Efficiency and Individual)
  • Collision avoidance assistant
  • Lane departure warning system

  • Automatic start/stop system with recuperation

  • Service indicator
  • Trip computer
  • Audi Virtual Cockpit - 10.25" digital and colour instrument cluster
  • MMI Navigation Plus with high resolution 10.1" colour touch screen display

  • Electrically adjustable/heated/folding/dimming door mirrors with kerb view includes integrated LED indications + kerb view function for passenger side
  • Auto dimming frameless rear view mirror
  • Body colour exterior mirrors

  • Accent surfaces in the dashboard and centre console in platinum grey silk effect paint finish
  • Dark spectrum aluminium inlays

  • Type 2 socket for AC charging
  • Type 2 mode 3 32 amp charging cable

  • 1xUSB-A and 1xUSB-C connection
  • DAB Digital radio
  • 6 passive loudspeakers

  • Aluminium window trim
  • Illuminated aluminium inserts front door sills with S logo
  • S roof spoiler
  • Rear side air outlets in grained matt black
  • S line bumpers

  • LED daytime running lights

  • Dual zone electronic climate control

  • Black cloth headlining
  • Tool kit
  • 3 pin 10 amp domestic charging cable
  • Height and reach adjustable steering wheel
  • 12V socket and storage compartment in front centre console
  • Front and rear centre armrest in leather
  • Twin leather upholstery with front sports seats S embossed logo
  • Manual boot compartment lid
  • Stainless steel pedals and front footrest
  • Luggage compartment floor covering

  • Interior lighting - glove compartment light and right hand side

  • S line styling pack - A3 Sportback
  • Aluminium interior elements pack - A3 Sportback

  • Pre-sense front with pedestrian and cyclist detection
  • First aid kit with warning triangle and 2 safety vests
  • Front side airbags with head airbags and interaction airbag
  • Tyre pressure loss indicator
  • Seatbelt monitoring
  • Driver and front passenger airbag with passenger airbag deactivation
  • 3x3 point rear seat belts

  • Manually adjustable front seats
  • Front and rear headrests
  • Seat side bolsters
  • 40/20/40 split folding rear seat bench with cupholder

  • Electronically operated child lock
  • Remote control central locking
  • Anti-theft wheel bolts
  • Anti theft alarm
  • Immobiliser

  • Tyre repair kit

  • Battery Charge Slow Time (Minutes): N
  • Battery Charge Slow kW: N
  • Battery Charge Slow Percentage: N
  • Battery Charge Fast Time (Minutes): N
  • Battery Charge Fast kW: N
  • Battery Charge Fast Percentage: N
  • Battery Charge Rapid Time (Minutes): N
  • Battery Charge Rapid kW: N
  • Battery Charge Rapid Percentage: N
  • Battery Charge Super Charge Time (Minutes): N
  • Battery Charge Super Charge kW: N
  • Battery Charge Super Charge Percentage: N
  • Coupler/Connector Type: Type 2
  • Standard manufacturers Battery warranty - Years: 8
  • Standard manufacturers Battery warranty - Mileage: 100000
  • Battery Capacity in kWh: 13
  • NEDC Electricity Consumption kWh/100 km: N
  • NEDC Maximum EV Range Miles: N
  • Battery Leased: False
  • Battery Type: Lithium-ion
  • WLTP - Equivalent AER (km) - Comb: 60
  • WLTP - Equivalent AER (km) - Comb - Min: 60
  • WLTP - Equivalent AER (km) - Comb - Max: 60
  • WLTP - Equivalent AER (miles) - Comb: 37.3
  • WLTP - Equivalent AER (miles) - Comb - Max: 36.7
  • WLTP - Equivalent AER (miles) - Comb - Min: 37.3

  • Standard Euro Emissions: EURO 6
  • HC+NOx: N
  • Particles: N

  • WLTP - CO2 Weighted (g/km) - Comb: 30
  • WLTP - CO2 Weighted (g/km) - Comb - Min: 29
  • WLTP - CO2 Weighted (g/km) - Comb - Max: 31

  • Engine Code: 8YACPX
  • CC: 1395
  • Cylinder Layout: IN-LINE
  • Camshaft: DOHC
  • Fuel Delivery: TURBO DIRECT INJECTION
  • Catalytic Convertor: True
  • Engine Layout: FRONT TRANSVERSE
  • Transmission: SEMI-AUTO
  • Gears: 6 SPEED

  • EC Directive 1999/100/EC Applies: False

  • WLTP - FC Weighted (l/100km) - Comb: 1.2
  • WLTP - FC Weighted (l/100km) - Comb - Min: 1.2
  • WLTP - FC Weighted (l/100km) - Comb - Max: 1.2
  • WLTP - FC Weighted (mpg) - Comb: 235.4
  • WLTP - FC Weighted (mpg) - Comb - Min: 235.4
  • WLTP - FC Weighted (mpg) - Comb - Max: 235.4

  • NCAP Adult Occupant Protection %: N
  • NCAP Child Occupant Protection %: N
  • NCAP Pedestrian Protection %: N
  • NCAP Safety Assist %: N
  • NCAP Overall Rating - Effective February 09: 5
  • Badge Power: 204
  • Badge Engine CC: 1.4
  • Vehicle Homologation Class: M1
  • Generation Mark: 4
  • Alternative Fuel Qualifying: True
  • Special Edition: False
  • Special Order: False
  • Based On ID: N
  • Insurance Group 1 - 50 Effective January 07: 28E
  • Coin Series: S line
  • Coin Description: TFSI e
  • Did at least one aspect of this vehicle's safety give cause for concern?: False

  • Engine Torque - MKG: 25.5
  • 0 to 62 mph (secs): 7.6
  • Top Speed: 141
  • Engine Power - BHP: 204
  • Engine Power - PS: True
  • 0 to 60 mph (secs): False
  • Engine Power - KW: 150
  • Engine Power - RPM: 5000
  • Engine Torque - LBS.FT: 184
  • Engine Torque - NM: 250
  • Engine Torque - RPM: 1550

  • Emissions Test Cycle: WLTP
  • RDE Certification Level: RDE 2

  • Wheel Style: 5 ARM DYNAMIC
  • Alloys?: True
  • Space Saver?: False
  • Tyre Size Rear: 225/40 R18
  • Tyre Size Spare: TYRE REPAIR KIT
  • Wheel Type: 18" ALLOY
  • Tyre Size Front: 225/40 R18

  • Length: 4343
  • Width: 1816
  • Wheelbase: 2630
  • Width (including mirrors): 1984
  • Height: 1430
  • Height (including roof rails): 1449

  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Up): 280
  • No. of Seats: 5
  • Minimum Kerbweight: 1560
  • Gross Vehicle Weight: 2065
  • Max. Towing Weight - Braked: 1700
  • Max. Towing Weight - Unbraked: 750
  • Max. Loading Weight: 505
  • Fuel Tank Capacity (Litres): 40
  • Luggage Capacity (Seats Down): 1100
  • Turning Circle - Kerb to Kerb: 11.1

  • Standard suspension: £0

  • Audi phone box with wireless charging: £145

  • Cruise control: Included
  • Lane change assistant with exit warning system and rear cross traffic alert: £510
  • Rear parking sensors: Included

  • Audi exclusive paint: £2,400
  • Pearlescent paint: £575
  • Solid paint: Included
  • Electric panoramic sunroof: £1,055
  • Special solid paint: £575
  • Metallic paint: £575

  • High beam assist: £100
  • LED headlights with LED rear lights and dynamic rear indicators: Included

  • 3 spoke flat bottomed multifunction plus sports contour leather wrapped steering wheel with shift paddles: £115
  • 3 spoke leather multifunction steering wheel with paddle shift: Included

  • LED luggage compartment lighting: Included

  • Matrix LED Exterior lighting Pack - A3: £675
  • Storage pack - A3 Sportback: £175
  • Driver assistance package - A3 Sportback: £1,750
  • LED interior lighting pack - A3 Sportback: Included
  • Extended ambient lighting pack - A3 Sportback: £110

  • Metallic - Python yellow: £575
  • Metallic - Mythos black: £575
  • Metallic - Glacier white: £575
  • Metallic - Tango red: £575
  • Metallic - Navaraa blue: £575

  • Pearl - Daytona grey: £575

  • Solid - Ibis white: £0

  • Special solid - Turbo blue: £575
  • Audi Exclusive - Custom: £2,400

  • Rear side airbags with head airbag system: £340

  • 4 way electrically adjustable lumbar support for driver and front passenger: £260
  • I-size and top tether child seat mounting for the outer rear seats: Included
  • ISOFIX Child seat anchors in front and i-size top tether for outer rear seats: £0

  • Trailer hitch: £770

  • Twin leather - Steel grey with anthracite stitching + front sports seats with S embossed logo: £0
  • Twin leather - Black with rock grey stitching + front sport seats with S embossed logo: £0

  • 18" 5 spoke V style diamond cut alloy wheels: £250
  • 18" 5 arm Dynamic alloy wheels: Included
  • 17" 5 spoke W style alloy wheels: £0
  • 17" 5 arm style alloy wheels: £0

Whilst every effort is made to verify and ensure the accuracy of the data, the information should only be used as a guide and no purchasing decision should be made without verification of the data from either the manufacturer or franchised dealer. Our offers may be on a different model year to that represented by this data and so specification may differ accordingly.

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