Toby turns to petrol for a quick exit.
First published in the July 2016 issue of Wheels magazine, Australia's best car mag since 1953.
I’VE never had a car tell me there’s a ferry on my route before, but that’s exactly what my Audi A3 e-tron tried to do on a recent crossing of Sydney Harbour. It was so convinced I should get out on the water that it even suggested we board a ferry and dock at Circular Quay. It would have been quite the voyage.
I refrained from obeying, but it was a reminder of how much computers have to deal with and how easy it is for a simple miscalculation to lead to grander confusion.
Fortunately my final month with the e-tron was a lot less dramatic than aquatic adventures to the seabed.
Nearing the end of my predominantly electric propulsion I decided to crank up the petrol engine occasionally for more fiery performance. The e-tron is certainly an enthusiastic participant once you sink your right foot. The occasional chirp of the front wheels and 7.6sec 0-100km/h acceleration makes for decent smiles.
Despite its extra weight – the batteries and electric motor contribute to a porky 1540kg kerb weight – it’s athletic through the bends. The Sport mode is the most convincing of the steering settings, although most of the time I left the drive mode in Auto.
Crunching the vital numbers revealed that in a bit over four months I used a smidge over 100 litres of fuel in almost 2500km of motoring. That works out at 4.2L/100km. Better still, I only refuelled three times. It’s feasible owners confining themselves to shorter drives around town may need to refuel only a couple of times a year.
As for electricity use, I chewed through 218kWh of electrons. That’s enough to power a 50W lightglobe for 182 days. Or you could keep your microwave reheating for 13 days. Just in case you’re wondering…
On an average electricity plan, that would cost something like $63, which is pretty good considering most of my e-tron kilometres were electric. So the A3 e-tron cost around $8 per 100km to run – equal to about 7L/100km. You could halve that if you were diligent with your recharging, and it would be less again if you top it up with someone else’s electricity (don’t forget those shopping centre freebies!) or use solar.
A ripper on the running costs, then, but less impressive is how it looks. The e-tron is very A3, which is both good and bad. Of course, if I had taken that ferry trip it might have turned a few more heads.
Monitoring energy use
Keeping track of exactly how much the e-tron costs to run is no mean feat. Unlike with the fuel use, the car won’t tell you how much electricity you’ve used. To figure it out you have to drain the batteries’ useable range completely and top them up (the capacity is 8.8kWh, so if the battery is in good nick that’s how much you’ve put in), or buy an electricity meter, as I did. Then grab an electricity bill to establish what you’re paying per kilowatt-hour. You have to add separate calculations for fuel, but all those details are on the bowser (and usually the receipt).
AUDI A3 E-TRON
Price as tested: $65,530
Part 4: 577km @ 11.3kWh/100km (plus 38.5L of fuel)
Overall: 2425km @ 9.0kWh/100km (plus 100.9L of fuel)
Date acquired: January 2016