Powered by
Subscribe to the only car newsletter you’ll ever need

2021 Audi A3 Sportback adds PHEV powertrain with 78km of range

John Law

Audi has announced a plug-in hybrid powertrain for the handsome new A3 Sportback – called the 40TFSI e – which will allow the sleek hatch to drive up to 78km on electric propulsion and offer a juicy 150kW of power.

Although the Sedan and Sportback will be arriving in Australia by early 2021, Audi still hasn’t locked in the exact engine line-up, though we expect the 110kW/250Nm 35TFSI to be the choice for our market.

Every A3 equipped with a dual-clutch gearbox – again, likely the default in Australia – is equipped with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system. The MHEV system will allow cars to ‘coast’, and offer more efficient stop-start – the 40TFSI e is not to be confused with that.

2021 Audi A3 Sportback PHEV front
It’s got a battery in there, but you wouldn‘t guess it from here.

Those living outside Australia will be more familiar with Audi’s plug-in hybrids, none of which are currently sold here. In Europe, there are a couple of popular plug-in models including the Q5, Q7 and A6.

Even the previous-gen A3 received a plug-in option, though that car’s EV only range was much lower at 50km, combined outputs are the same.

The 40TFSI powertrain combines a 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine with outputs of 110kW and 250Nm with an electric motor that can pump out 80kW and 330Nm for a combined system output of 150kW.

2021 Audi A3 Sportback PHEV Interior
Or here, for that matter. What a nice interior, though.

Under the boot floor is where Audi has stowed the 13kWh lithium-ion battery with a dedicated temperature control system that can both cool the battery in hot climates, or heat it in the cold.

Charge speed, though, is limited to just 2.3kW, which equates to approximately a four hour charge time for the 40 TFSI e. Not the most convenient on a long trip, but it will be adequate in urban environments where the A3 will spend most of its time.

The A3 has several drive modes including the ability to lock it into full EV mode, during which the Sportback will be able to cruise at 140km/h without petrol assistance. 

2021 Audi A3 Sportback PHEV Rear 3/4
The new A3 is, at least, a very handsome beast.

Transferring power to the front wheels is a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox which, in the world of EVs, is a bit strange. Brands like Toyota with their series-parallel hybrids instead employ a CVT. We presume this is down to both technology available, and the need to retain an ‘Audi’ driving experience.

Still, that should make for snappier throttle response and quicker acceleration. That said, the plug-in won’t bother the powerhouse S3 – or other hot hatches for that matter – with a quoted standard sprint time of 7.6 seconds.

Efficiency is, naturally, the name of the game for the 40 TFSI e, and the A3 returns a pretty solid figure of 1.5L/100km and emits about 34kg of CO2/km dependent on the testing procedure. As a side note, the EV-only range as measured by the WLTP procedure is lower at 67km.

2021 Audi A3 Sportback PHEV Driving
Hopefully it makes it Downunder.

We are awaiting confirmation as to whether the A3 Sportback will arrive in Australia next year with the 40TFSI e powertrain as an option. If it does, then the small car may well suit the needs of inner-city Aussies, providing a stop-gap before the brand releases an equivalently-sized e-tron.