GREEN FOCUS ON: Audi
A raft of PHEVs in 2020 is preceding an electric vehicle expansion next year
Audi was one of the first car makers to market with a plug-in hybrid, getting previous-generation versions of both the A3 hatchback and Q7 SUV into the market in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Unfortunately, it then lost its way and let rival premium brands overtake.
That’s been well and truly rectified over the past 12 months, because Audi has dived head-first into electrification in both plug-in hybrid and full electric forms.
✪ STAR CAR ✪
Audi A3 Sportback 40 TFSIe
WHAT IS IT?
The plug-in version of Audi’s new lower-medium hatchback, arriving on UK roads by the end of this year.
HOW QUICK IS IT?
The combination of 1.4-litre petrol engine and 80kw electric motor gives the A3 204hp, and a 0-62mph acceleration time of 7.6 seconds.
WHATS THE RANGE?
Getting over 40 miles of range is a big one in tax terms, and the A3 PHEV has an official electric-only range of 41 miles.
IS IT TAX EFFICIENT?
Very much so, thanks to that range figure getting into the 40s, because that puts the PHEV in the 6% BiK band for 2020/21, rather than the 10% it would have been in had the electric-only range figure been two miles shorter. This saves a 40% taxpayer around £44 a month.
ANYTHING ELSE I SHOULD KNOW?
The car comes in Sport and S Line trims, and Audi has said that a more powerful version with “even greater emphasis on performance” will join the range next year.
Having initially used the e-tron branding for its early plug-in hybrids, Audi had a change of naming when its first battery electric model launched in the summer of 2019, called simply e-tron.
The e-tron has grown to a range of four vehicles now, with the regular e-tron (pictured above) and its e-tron Sportback siblings each getting a pair of battery options. Called 50 and 55 under Audi’s bewildering numbering system for different power outputs, the 55 is a 95kWh battery offering a range of 259 miles and 408hp, while the cheaper 50 has an official 193-mile range and 313hp for the e-tron, dropping to 241 and 188 miles for the coupe-styled Sportback. The line-up kicks off with a P11D of £63,245 for the Sportback, which puts it well above the £50,000 maximum for the Government plug-in car grant, although it obviously still gets the 0% BiK rating for 2020/21.
The line-up expands next year, with the lower-priced Q4 e-tron slotting in as an entry EV for Audi (see below), and another electric model sitting at the top of the range in the form of the e-tron GT. It’s based on the e-tron GT concept revealed in 2018, and should offer a 0-62mph time of around 3.5 seconds and a range in the region of 250 miles.
Since the first of Audi’s new range of PHEVs launched in the form of the Q5 TFSIe late last year, the growth has been rapid. During 2020, Audi has already added A6, A7, A8 and Q7 plug-in hybrid models, with the A3 (see panel, right) and Q8 also due by the end of the year, followed in 2021 by an Avant version of the A6.
In the case of the Q5 there are two power levels on offer, 299hp or a new 367hp version arriving with the facelifted Q5 late this year, while the A6 and A7 both use the same 299hp 2.0-litre petrol and electric motor combination. The A8 and Q7 combine 3.0-litre petrol and electric motors, putting out 449hp and 381hp respectively, the latter also being the powertrain used in the forthcoming Q8 PHEV.
In 2021 Audi will launch a new electric car described by UK fleet boss James Buxton as an “absolute game changer for us in retail and fleet – a huge opportunity”.
The Q4 e-tron will be based heavily on the Q4 e-tron Concept (right), and will also spawn a coupe-styled Q4 e-tron Sportback version.
The production car should be revealed before the end of this year. The concept version featured an 82kWh battery giving the car an official range of 279 miles in all-wheel-drive form, and 310 for the rear-drive version. However, it remains to be seen whether these numbers will carry through to the production version.