Audi A3 e-tron (2014 – 2020) Review

Audi A3 e-tron (2014 – 2020) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Audi A3 e-tron represented the future in 2014 as it was Audi’s first plug-in hybrid in the UK. With emissions of 37g/km, it was and still is a low polluting petrol-powered car with the option to cover some distance on EV power alone.

+Plug in hybrid is generally very refined. Quick and loses nothing of the petrol-only Audi A3's understated class. Fuel-free mileage potential is alluring.

-Ride quality and tyre noise issues are thorns in the Audi A3 e-tron’s side. Loss of some boot space. Real world running costs could be substantial with high daily mileage.

Insurance Group 29
On average it achieves 68% of the official MPG figure

For some drivers, the Audi A3 e-tron will a the better mix of options than a pure EV or fossil fuel-only car. There are some downsides - so-so handling, smaller boot, tyre noise - but the Audi A3 e-tron makes for a sound used hybrid choice and has the appeal of the Audi badge. To find out more, read our full Audi A3 e-tron review.

The 2014 Audi A3 e-tron was Audi's first plug-in hybrid in the UK market. It sat at the top of the premium hatchback tree, owing largely to its very effective blend of perceived build quality, low running costs, useful practicality and gimmick-free styling.

The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron built on this base to produce a car with all that, plus the sort of claimed fuel economy and CO2 emissions to appease a Just Stop Oil protester. That concoction made the Audi A3 e-tron a leader in its (admittedly small) corner of the market when it arrived.

As a plug-in hybrid, rather than the 'self-charging' type favoured by the like of the Lexus CT200 or Toyota Prius at the time, the Audi A3 e-tron could cover up to 31 miles on battery power alone. This was achieved using the same hybrid set-up as the contemporary Volkswagen e-Golf.

That frugality was in ideal conditions at lower speeds, though the e-tron could also drive at motorway pace using just electricity. As a result, Audi said this A3 was capable of 176.6mpg if you made the most of charging opportunities and didn't indulge in the fun offered by its 204PS and 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds.

Plenty of company drivers were tempted into the Audi A3 e-tron thanks to its tax benefits, while private buyers were also seduced by hefty EV grants from the government.

None of those apply now the Audi A3 e-tron is a used car, but road tax is free for the e-tron and running costs will still be low for those who can charge the car easily and rely mostly on its EV power.

Unlike the rest of the Audi A3 range, the e-tron was only offered as a five-door Sportback and with one trim level.

It dishes up a lot of equipment, including 17-inch alloy wheels, MMI HDD-based navigation with seven-inch touch screen, 10GB flash music storage, DAB radio, two-zone climate control, front sports seats, LED headlights, rear LED lights and plenty more.

Ask Honest John

Is a cam belt change necessary?

"I own a 2015 Audi A3 e-tron plug in hybrid, and find it brilliant in every way. It was our main car but 18 months ago I passed it on to my wife, who only does short, local journeys. These are short enough for battery only. The engine is only occasionally started, and given a short run. Her annual milage is under 2000. It has always been run on Shell super unleaded. Audi have advised me to have a cam belt change, costing £900. I think the way the car is used cannot justify that sort of expense, and would like to just keep it for another few years and use in the manner I describe above. Is this foolish or sensible?"
The Audi dealer is right, the timing belt needs to be changed every five years or 60,000 miles (whichever comes first). The rubber compound in the belt degrades over time and the pulleys become worn. The belt itself can also become slack. It's very unwise to leave it. If the belt snaps or becomes loose, it'll wreck the engine. If cost is a concern, use an independent Audi specialist. The quality of the work will be the same as the dealer, but you'll save at least at third on the costs. You should be able to find one with our God Garage Guide:
Answered by Dan Powell

What's the battery life of a plug-in hybrid?

"I am thinking of buying a plug-in hybrid. I quite like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volkswagen Golf GTE and Audi A3 e-tron. What do you know about battery longevity in these cars?"
No reports of failure of the lithium ion hybrid batteries so far. All of these vehicles work best if you do regular sub 20 mile journeys and can charge them from the mains beforehand. The VAG cars work better over long distances at lowish speeds because they have very clever autonomous recharging systems.
Answered by Honest John
More Questions

What does a Audi A3 e-tron (2014 – 2020) cost?