What Car? Electric Car Awards in association with ONTO
Electric Car Awards 2021: Best hybrid family car
With electrified cars now coming in all shapes and sizes – and available to suit every budget – we’ve named the best models in every class. Here we look at the best hybrid family car...
Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSIe Sport
The youth of today are astute to the electrification of cars, so don’t be surprised if your kids want the family’s next set of wheels to have batteries in the back. But which car should you choose to quell their well-intentioned nagging if you’re not ready to go fully electric? Simple: the Audi A3 Sportback.
In fact, a plug-in hybrid A3 in entry-level 40 TFSIe Sport guise will fit the bill for parents and company car drivers alike. Why? Well, for starters, it’s one of the more affordable plug-in options out there. What’s more, Sport trim gets smaller (17in) alloy wheels than its siblings, increasing the electric range to 40 miles, so it fits into a lower band (7%) for benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax.
Driving the A3 is a pleasant experience; it has more grip and agility than the rival Mercedes A250e, boosting your confidence during quick changes of direction. This is backed up by precise steering that’s as adept at guiding the A3 along a winding country road as it is when manoeuvring into the charging bay in a Tesco’s car park.
This A3 also has the benefit of being much easier to drive smoothly than the A250e, because it has a more consistent brake pedal feel that makes it easier to come to a halt without lurching, plus the engine doesn’t sound like a malfunctioning blender when you need a burst of acceleration.
Performance isn’t quite the best in the class, but a 0-62mph time of 7.2sec is brisk enough and it’s certainly quicker than most conventionally powered family cars. Plus, the A3 beats them all at low speeds for refinement, given that it’s able to run in its near-silent electric-only mode. Wind noise is low at high speeds, too, plus the smaller wheels help to reduce road din on the motorway.
The interior materials are a step ahead of the cheaper-feeling (yet pricier to buy) Volkswagen Golf GTE’s, and the A3 feels more solidly constructed than the glitzier A250e. There’s plenty of tech, too; a large, 10.1in touchscreen infotainment system (with full smartphone connectivity) and a highly configurable digital instrument panel are welcome standard features.
There won’t be many complaints from passengers over space, either, whether they sit in the front or the back. Meanwhile, despite the batteries nibbling at the luggage capacity, the boot can hold the same five carry-on suitcases as the regular A3.
All in all, this plug-in hybrid is an excellent choice for a family, thanks to all its high-end technology, potentially low running costs and decent practicality, and because it can travel farther on electric power alone than most family plug-in hybrids, it’ll satiate even the most ardent young eco-warriors.
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