Audi A3 Sportback 40

TFSI e S line

Stronic

Audi A3 Sportback, front
Audi A3 Sportback, side
Audi A3 Sportback, rear
Audi A3 Sportback, interior
Audi A3 Sportback, boot
Audi A3 Sportback, 2020, rear seats

HEADLINE figures such as fuel consumption of 280-plus miles per gallon will always grab the spotlight.

But with Audi's latest plug-in hybrid there is so much more than raw numbers to get your teeth into.

There is the sleek exterior that unmistakably identifies it as part of the German motor manufacturer's family. It is honed to within an inch of its life and hunkered down like it is primed to pounce.

The headlights look almost stern with the honeycomb-effect grille and air vents the bee's knees as this A3 makes an instant impression - with natty S line badging and smart alloy wheels also adding a sporty feel to proceedings.

The theme is carried on inside where there are front figure-hugging sports seats and an angular edgy air to the interior design.

And that is the point about the Audi A3 plug-in hybrid - yes it boasts an electric range of up to 40 miles and low emissions of 31g/km that will make business users purr when they see their tax bill - but it also sprints from 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds on its way to a top speed of 141mph using a 1.4-litre petrol engine backed up by an electric motor to develop a combined 204ps.

So you can have your environmentally-friendly cake without having to feel like you're driving Miss Daisy.

The relationship between electric and petrol power units is super smooth with only the neat digital dash giving a clue that anything is happening at all. The automatic gearbox provides slick changes so all in all the Audi A3 plug-in is a refined customer.

There are different driving modes that can alter the set up of the car between economy, comfort and sport, plus the ability to cater for individual tastes.

In all modes the ride is smooth although sport does firm things up somewhat with a decent response to your right foot on the accelerator.

It is decent to drive with lots of grip available in corners and informative steering that lets you know what is happening on the road.

If you desire then fully electric travel is possible in the A3 at speeds of up to 87mph but you will rapidly be in need of a recharge which Audi say can be completed in around four hours. The recharging point is concealed behind a flap on the nearside front wing.

Audi now has a track record of producing top quality PHEVs with the A3 joining siblings represented in the A6, A7, A8, Q5 and Q7 models.

The A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e S line Stronic is not cheap at £35,465 with optional extras - including an admittedly excellent £1,195 comfort and sound pack and a £1,055 panoramic sunroof - adding more than £3,000 to the model I drove.

That said it does come equipped with all mod cons and four adults are comfortably catered for although the presence of a battery in the boot reduces luggage space by 100 litres to 280 litres.

Two adults can nestle nicely in the rear seats with a third able to be accommodated at a push although leg room is compromised by a raised transmission tunnel.

A wiser move would be to persuade that person to take a taxi as the two remaining passengers can make use of the drop down armrest containing two handy cup holders.

FAST FACTS

Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e S line Stronic

Price:£35,465

Mechanical:204ps, 1395cc, 4cyl petrol engine and electric motor driving front wheels via a 6-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:141mph

0-62mph:7.6 seconds

Combined MPG:282.5

Insurance Group:28

C02 emissions:34g/km

Bik rating:7%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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