Audi’s first mass-produced plug-in car, the 2014 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid, has been awarded a full five-star safety rating by European crash test organisation EuroNCAP.
Based on the same drivetrain and chassis as Volkswagen’s plug-in hybrid Golf GTE, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron features a 1.4-litre TFSI gasoline engine mated to a 6-speed S tronic gearbox as well as a powerful 75 kilowatt electric motor and 8.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. Capable of a claimed all-electric range of around 31 miles and a top electric-only speed of 81 mph, the Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron can also be used in blended power mode to unleash a total of 204 horsepower and 258 pounds feet of torque to give a 0-62 mph time of 7.6 seconds.
As EuroNCAP’s official test results detail, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron fared best in its Adult Occupant crash tests, scoring a total of 31 points (82%) for Front and rear adult occupant protection.
With the exception of the notoriously brutal side-pole test — in which it was given ‘marginal’ rating for its front occupant chest protection — the A3 Sportback e-tron was awarded a ‘good’ or ‘adequate’ rating for all of its other adult occupant tests.
Moving on to the child occupant tests, EuroNCAP noted that the A3 Sportback e-tron scored maximum points for its protection of the 1.5-year old and 3-year old dummies, with good protection from all sides in rearward-facing group 0+/1 child restraints.
However, overall child protection ratings were reduced to 39 points (78%) by the use of a non-standard front passenger airbag disable switch, which meant that it was not eligible to score points during the assessment. Further points were lost due to incompatibility with certain group 0+ universal child restraint systems and group II/III semi-universal restraints in the rear outboard seats.
Moving on to pedestrian safety, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron scored maximum points for its ability to protect pedestrians’ legs, but lost points for its poor pelvic protection. Due to the car’s active bonnet — which lifts the bonnet in the event of an impact with a pedestrian to provide extra protection between pedestrian and the engine — the rest of EuroNCAP’s tests were carried out with the bonnet in the ‘deployed’ position, allowing Audi to score well in all bonnet-surface tests. Only the stiff windscreen pillars and the base of the windscreen scored poorly, resulting in a total score of 24 points (66%)
Finally, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron was awarded 9 points (68%) for its safety assistance systems. While the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron doesn’t come with lane departure warning and autonomous emergency braking fitted as standard, the test car did have both have lane-assist and ‘pre-sense front’ autonomous braking facility fitted. As a consequence, these features were tested and added to the overall score, although the A3 Sporback e-tron did lose out on some points due to the lack of speed assistance technology .
The A3 Sportback e-tron will go on sale shortly in the UK priced at £34,950 including mandatory registration fees and handling, but excluding any plug-in car grants. At the time of writing, the A3 Sportback e-tron has not received official approval for the £5,000 UK government plug-in car grant scheme, but should be eligible based on its specifications and battery pack size.
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