Audi is in the process of electrifying the drivetrain in its cars through the plug-in hybrid technology. An example of the product of such efforts is the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron which was previously shown at the Geneva Motor Show.
The A3 has a 204 horsepower engine that can have a 258 lb-ft of torque. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in under 8 seconds and has a 138 mph top speed. This five-door vehicle uses about 1.5 liters of fuel for every 100 km which translates to around 35 grams per kilometer of CO2 emissions. Using solely its electric motor, the A3 can reach a top speed of 80 mph going for 30 miles. The A3 Sportback is unlike any hybrid.
Its 1.4-liter combustion engine delivers 150-hp with a 250 lb-ft of torque while the electric motor produces 100-hp with 243 lb-ft ot torque. Furthermore, the electric motor is shaped like a disc and by integrating it with the 6-speed transmission, allows the motor to transfer power to the car’s front wheels.
Audi’s new model has two power plants that complement one another. The motor can have torque as high as 2,000 rpm with the pulling power of the engine within 1,750 to 4,000 rpm. At the heart of the A3 Sportback’s electric unit is the lithium-ion battery system.
This is a high-voltage battery encased inside aluminum housing and has a capacity of 8.8 kWh. It has eight modules with each module having 12 cells. The battery has its own liquid cooling system to ensure that the battery operates at optimum temperature. The battery system is space efficient as well since it is kept under the rear seat, thus also protecting it from crashes. The electronics that convert DC from the battery to AC in the motor is inside a compartment in the engine.
This system uses the cooling system of the battery, along with the charging device. Audi’s charging connection is easy to locate since it is behind the four rings in the front grille. The battery can therefore be charged and become full in about 2.5 hours using a3.6 kW charger.
Though the electrical system is part of the car, there is no cause for concern since the entire electrical network does not have any conductive connection to the car’s other parts. Thus, in case of a collision, once the tension system in the seatbelt and the airbags are activated, the electrical system automatically disconnects itself from the power supply.
The model’s air condition compressor even has its own electric drive while the heating function is supported by an electric auxiliary heater. The vacuum brake servo meanwhile has its own connection and is served through an electric vacuum pump.
The hybrid system is so attuned with the electric motor that when the driver applies moderate brakes, the electric motor becomes an alternator, allowing the recovery of energy to be channeled to the battery. In addition, the wheel brakes of the A3 can only become active if the pedal is pressed forcefully. Being a hybrid system, the driven has the option to use the combustion engine, the electric motor, or both.
Aside from being able to use a hybrid, this model also gives the driver the choice whether or not to use the two power plants together, also known as boosting. The driver can also do a “gliding” which is when the power plants are deactivated while the accelerator is being pressed. What happens then is that the torque is removed therefore increasing efficiency. There are three driving programs that a driver can select with the EV button.
First there is the electric mode, the D program allows the A3 to run more efficiently, and the S stands for sporty. The engine is not the only highlight of this model. The ergonomic interior is also something to be proud of given its high-quality finish.
The interior is finished with a Cloudy Gray that contrasts with the highlights on the sport seats. The door sill trims are made of aluminum and carry the e-tron logos. E-tron badges can also be seen on the steering wheel and gear knobs. Finally, the trunk has 9.89 cubic feet of space which can be increased to 35 cubic feet by folding the rear seats.