Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
If you have any preconceptions that a car using battery power will feel slow, then you’ll find the A3 Sportback e-tron a revelation. Even when using just the electric motor it’s not exactly slow, but when you use it with both the electric motor and the 1.4-litre petrol engine combined it’s decently quick. It pulls hard right from the off and will despatch the 0-62mph sprint in a hot-hatch-bating 7.6sec, and will happily cruise at motorway speeds.
Power goes through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which means it’s very easy to drive, whether you’re mooching around town or tackling a long cross-country trip.
Ride comfort is great over high-speed undulations, and the e-tron feels settled and comfortable in most situations, but it can become a bit bouncy and jarring over hard-worn or rougher town roads.
Refinement is also an e-tron strong point. The brakes are a bit grabby, but don’t suffer from the snappiness that some hybrid cars do, while in electric mode it’s whisper quiet. You do notice a slight vibration and added noise as the petrol engine kicks in, but the engine is still smooth and a lot less intrusive than the two-cylinder engine found in the BMW i3. As your speed builds so do the levels of road and wind noise, but not to excessive levels.