Audi A1 e-tron

Our verdict on the Audi A1 plug-in prototype, which points the way for the firm’s electric future

Overall Auto Express Rating

5.0 out of 5

The A1 e-tron may just be a concept for the moment, but it shows that Audi already has a great grasp on its electric future. It’s got a usable range, it’s exciting to drive and it’ll rarely need to be refuelled. The only hurdle is producing cars like this at a price people can actually afford. We’ll just have to wait and see about that bit...

By 2020, Audi aims to have a plug-in hybrid or fully electric model in every class. And to show you it means business, it’s produced this – the 282mpg A1 e-tron. And you could be able to buy one in a couple of years.

The name is the same as an A1 model trialled in Germany that featured an electric range of 30 miles and a range-extending rotary engine to charge batteries beneath the boot floor. But this car is a simpler plug-in hybrid.

It’s powered by what Audi calls a Dual Hybrid System. There’s a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine and one electric motor, with both able to provide drive to the front wheels.

In total, the system delivers 175bhp and allows for acceleration from 0-62mph in less than nine seconds. There’s also another electric motor that acts mainly as a starter and an alternator.

You wouldn’t know this was a hi-tech prototype from the outside; all of the clever tech is hidden away underneath a standard A1 body. But driving it gives the game away completely.

Move the gearstick to ‘D’, and the A1 sets off silently and smoothly when you press the accelerator. There’s a kickdown feature, which causes the petrol engine to switch on should you press the accelerator to the floor, but you’ll rarely need it – the electric motor provides more than enough power for most situations.

There’s sufficient charge in the batteries for a range of 50 miles on electric power, too, while total range is more than 400 miles.

But unlike a petrol-powered performance car, the new model’s most impressive figures are its fuel economy and emissions. Audi claims the A1 e-tron can return 282mpg and emits just 23g/km of CO2.

This car is a fantastic piece of engineering, and it proves how fast and exciting green transport really can be.

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