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2021 Audi A3 40 TFSI e detailed: Hybrid power returns to luxury hatchback that sets sights on Mercedes-Benz A250e

The Audi A3 40 TFSI e can travel up to 78km on a single charge, a noticeable improvement over the 50km range of its predecessor.

Audi has revealed its new-generation A3 40 TFSI e, a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that competes against the Mercedes-Benz A250e for frugal luxury hatchback bragging rights.

However, its local introduction is currently unclear as Audi Australia is not committing to the electrified model yet, although did offer a plug-in hatchback in 2015.

The A3 Sportback e-tron, as it was known then, was a limited-time offering to gauge local interest in plug-in hybrids, though Audi is now focused on the roll-out of its all-electric e-tron SUV.

The new A3 PHEV however, is based on the latest fourth-generation architecture, and pairs a 110kW/250Nm 1.4-litre petrol engine with a new 80kW/330Nm electric motor for a combined output of 150kW/350Nm.

Drive is sent to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission for a zero-to-100km/h run in just 7.6 seconds.

While outputs and performance match the A3 40 TFSI e’s predecessor, the emissions-free driving range is boosted to 78km (+28km) thanks to a larger 13kWh battery (up from 8.8kWh). Of note, the range figure is when tested on NEDC standards, with the WLTP cycle dropping range to 67km.

As a result, fuel economy is pegged at 1.4-1.5 litres per 100km, while carbon dioxide emissions hover between 30-34 grams per kilometre.

The natural rival to the A3 40 TFSI e is the Mercedes-Benz A250e plug-in hybrid, which outputs a total 160kW/450Nm for a 6.6s 0-100km/h run, but boasts a slightly shorter 73km all-electric range and smaller 15.6kWh battery.

Fuel economy is also slightly better in the Audi, with the Benz sipping 1.6L/100km.

The A3 40 TFSI e will also adopt new driving modes to take advantage of battery power, including a ‘battery hold’, ‘battery charge’ and ‘EV’ settings, while ‘comfort’, ‘auto, ‘dynamic’ and ‘individual’ profiles are also available.

Audi has also fitted regenerative braking and aerodynamically optimised 16-inch wheels to improve efficiency, and an Acoustic Vehicle Alert System to clue-in pedestrians when at low speeds.

Also included is a 230-volt charging cable that can take up to 2.9kW of power. Audi says it takes just over four hours to charge the A3 PHEV from zero to 100 per cent, but owners can set when to charge, as well as pre-entry climate controls, from a smartphone app.

However, the added electric motor and battery pack does eat into cargo capacity, which drops from 380 and 1200 litres with the seats in place and stowed respectively, to 280/1100L.

Standard equipment on the A3 40 TFSI e includes a 10.1-inch multimedia touchscreen, Audi’s virtual cockpit digital instrumentation, powered tailgate, LED headlights and dual-zone climate control, while autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warning also feature.

Options extend to adaptive cruise control, panoramic sunroof, head-up display, matrix LED headlights and sports seats – at least in European markets where the car goes on sale later this year.