COMPANY car drivers will be pleased to learn there is now an Audi A3 model with plug-in hybrid technology that introduces attractive tax savings.
The Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSi e 204ps S line S tronic is powered by a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine delivering 148bhp working with an electric motor that adds an extra 107bhp to the mix. The result is a combined 201bhp and 350Nm of torque.
It's a set-up that has been tried and tested in other VW Group models and, with its all-electric range of up to 40 miles and carbon emissions of 29g/km, it has a good Benefit in Kind rate of 12 per cent.
The official fuel economy figure of 217.3mpg would only be achievable if the car was plugged in regularly and driven in pure EV mode for the majority of the time.
The A3 automatically pulls away in EV mode and the petrol engine kicks in seamlessly in the background when needed. The battery levels can be stored for later use and it can also be boosted on the move via the engine.
Our car, in S line trim with a six-speed S tronic automatic gearbox, cost £35,190. But a number of optional extras saw that price rise to £39,325. By staying beneath £40,000 owners will avoid paying a Government premium car levy for the first five years. This is always worth factoring in when ticking those option boxes.
The five-door A3 Sportback PHEV looks stylish from any approach without being too garish. There is a large grille housing the Audi rings emblem, sweeping light clusters with LED daytime running lights, tinted rear windows, chrome window trim, twin tail pipes and smart alloy wheels.
Moving inside, there is nothing particularly flashy about the interior. But there are plenty of high-end features to explore. A premium Bang & Olufsen audio delivers pitch perfect sound quality, there is full smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, sat nav, heated seats to fend off the winter chill and lots of S badging.
The A3 Sportback is a pleasant car to drive with ample power on tap from the punchy petrol engine. Acceleration out the starting blocks is smooth and responsive with a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.6 seconds and top speed of 141mph.
Drive modes called Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual alter the handling of the car and there are other battery-related modes for EV-only driving. However, most people will likely leave the car to work automatically in Auto Hybrid whereby the best efficiency is achieved.
The steering is well weighted with paddles for added driver engagement if you fancy changing gears manually. And this is a car cruises effortlessly on motorways and is nicely balanced when faced with twisting country lanes. It is also nicely agile in busier city centres with good all-round driver visibility and the Park Assist system proving beneficial.
Comfort levels also impress and there is room for a couple of passengers in the back - three at a squeeze. Leg room is fine unless the front seats are pushed right back and the boot can hold 280 litres of kit - increasing to 1,100 litres with the split-folding second row seats folded forward. This is slightly less than the standard A3 and the cables also eat into the space considerably.
There are lots of handy storage compartments scattered throughout the car, including a glovebox, central cubby, door pockets, front and rear cup holders, trays and a wireless charging pad.