Image credits: © Audi.

2011 Audi A3 e-tron Concept

Petrol-Electric A3 e-tron concept leads the charge for Audi in Shanghai

Hybrid based on A3 saloon concept shows another potential future direction for perennially popular Audi compact car
Audi is set to unveil a stunning technical study – the A3 e-tron concept – in Shanghai. The four-seat notchback saloon integrates the full breadth of the brand's technological expertise – from the enhanced MMI operating system, to the high-end infotainment system, to the drivetrain. And wîth its two powerplants and lithium-ion batteries that store enough energy to propel the car on electric power alone for up to 54 km (34 miles), the plug-in hybrid also delivers high fuel efficiency.

Design and body
The Audi A3 e-tron concept is a four-seat notchback saloon. It measures 4.44 metres long and 1.84 metres wide, but just 1.39 metres high – proportions that underscore its dynamic character.

The styling has all the features of the typical Audi design language. The single-frame grille is integrated into the front end, giving it a sculptured look. Its frame is made of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer (CFRP), and the transversely mounted, three-dimensional aluminium louvres emphasise the showcar's width. The headlights merge wîth the bevelled upper corners of the single-frame, forming a transition that marks the starting point of the prominent lines of the bonnet.

The headlights represent a new stage of evolution in LED technology, a groundbreaking innovation from Audi. They become broader as they extend outward, and a line underneath makes them seem to float. Above the front spoiler is a full-length air intake, also made of CFRP, framed by a metal clasp. The spoiler features a splitter that increases the downforce on the front wheels.

When viewed from the side, too, the A3 e-tron concept is instantly recognisable as an Audi – wîth its harmonious proportions, taut, muscular surfaces and a low roof dome wîth fluid lines flowing into a flat, coupe-like C-pillar. The shoulder area transitions elegantly into the tailgate. Characteristic of Audi design, the greenhouse accounts for one-third of the height, while the sheet metal makes up the remaining two-thirds.

Vital Stats
Engine : 1.4 L., 4-cylinder
Power: 208 hp

7-speed Automatic
Powerfully flared wings hint at the power of the engine. Two striking lines accentuate the flank: the undercut tornado line beneath the window edge and the dynamic line above the sills. The exterior mirrors, made of aluminium and CFRP, are perched on top of the window-channel strips. The door handles wîth their brushed-aluminium clasps are recessed flush wîth the door. When the driver touches them, they power-extend.

The intelligent interplay between surfaces and lines also defines the tail end of the A3 e-tron concept. The broad, flat tail lights are sculptured and culminate in a point on the inside, and the tailgate bears an elegant spoiler edge. The rear apron includes a diffuser insert of CFRP and metal, which in turn surrounds the two large tailpipes for the exhaust system.

Últra-modern components, design methods and joining techniques keep the body weight low. One example of this are the custom-tailored blanks (panels of various thicknesses) in the floor area. The doors, bonnet and tailgate are made of aluminium. With its high levels of rigidity, the body provides the basis for the saloon's precise handling, excellent vibrational comfort and low weight – the Audi A3 e-tron concept tips the scales at just 1,720 kg.

The interior of the showcar is generously proportioned. The long wheelbase measuring 2.63 metres – a best-in-class figure in the premium compact §egmènt – gives rear passengers generous knee room. The front sport seats wîth prominent side bolsters are slim and elegant.

The cockpit also gives an impression of lightness and airiness. The horizontal lines emphasise its design and the instrument panel draws the driver in – typical of Audi. Defined in three dimensions, the large trim strip is made of solid aluminium and includes control functions. The high-quality sound system in the doors and on the rear shelf has aluminium trim panels. When the audio system is switched on, they extend a few millimetres, creating a visual accompaniment to the system's excellent sound.

On the centre console there are four large, round air vents that echo a jet's design. The air flow is adjusted by pulling and pushing on the centre axis of the vents. The control knobs for the automatic air conditioning system are located in the lower section of the centre console on a raised, dedicated control panel. Visually, they are reminiscent of aeroplane turbines.

Behind the compact, flat-bottomed, three-spoke multifunction §teering wheel is an innovative display that makes the individual driving states of the hybrid drive obvious. The tachometer on the instrument cluster has been replaced by a 'power meter,' wîth a needle that indicates the total system output on a scale of 0 to 100 per cent. A second scale is divided into coloured §egmènts. At a glance, the green and orange §egmènts clearly indicate where the A3 e-tron concept is drawing its power – from the electric motor, the combustion engine, or a combination of the two. An additional instrument displays the charge level of the battery.

Between the two large round dials is the large, eight-inch display for the driver information system. This display and the large monitor of the MMI system show the operating states and power flows in the hybrid system in elegant graphics wîth a three-dimensional effect.

The MMI monitor also displays differentiated consumption and recuperation statistics in easily understandable bar graphs.

The control panel for the MMI multimedia system is located on the centre tunnel console. The interface on its large rotary pushbutton features another novelty – the MMI touch touchpad. This new solution, which makes the already exemplary operation even more intuitive, will soon be introduced in series production. The ultra-thin MMI monitor power-extends upwards out of the instrument panel, another feature taken from the full-size car class.

A ÚMTS (universal mobile telecommunication standard) module provides full access to the Internet, allowing the car to retrieve online services from Google. Thanks to the WLAN hotspot, passengers can surf and send e-mail to their hearts' content. iPad holders are installed on the back of the front seat backrests.

A classic notchback saloon, the Audi A3 e-tron concept boasts a large luggage compartment wîth a volume of 410 litres and a low loading lip.

Designed as a plug-in hybrid, the A3 e-tron concept is propelled by two power units – a 211PS 1.4 TFSI four-cylinder engine wîth turbocharging and petrol direct injection and an electric motor wîth an output of 27PS. The system provides a combined output of 238PS. Working together, the petrol engine and electric motor accelerate the notchback to 62mph in 6.8 seconds, then on to 144mph. A regulated oil pump, the intelligent Audi thermal management system, a start-stop system and an energy recovery system – technologies from the brand's modular efficiency platform – all contribute to this high efficiency.

At the heart of the A3 e-tron concept are the lithium-ion batteries located behind the rear seats. With a charge capacity of 12 kWh, they give the notchback a range of up to 34 miles on electric power alone.

The batteries are charged by the energy recovery system when the car is in motion or directly from a household power socket when it is parked. This means that in most cases, the car is entirely emission-free in city driving.

A compact seven-speed S tronic serves as the transmission for the compact plug-in hybrid. It comprises two transmission structures, which are operated by two clutches. Gears are alternately shifted by the two clutches quickly, smoothly and without any perceptible interruption of traction.

The driver can operate the seven-speed S tronic in one automatic mode and one manual mode, using the paddles on the §teering wheel to change gears manually. Elegant touch control buttons alongside the handrest on the centre tunnel console allow the driver to select drive positions R, N and D. These are backlit wîth red light when it gets dark. Drive position P is automatically engaged when the electric parking brake is applied. The launch control system manages the sprint from a dead stop, furnishing explosive turbo power wîth minimal tyre slip.

Derived from the current RS 3 Sportback, the Audi A3 e-tron concept's chassis is fully capable of handling the power from the drive system at all times. The four-seater masters any type of corner wîth speed, stability and composure. Its self-§teering response remains essentially neutral all the way up to the handling limits.

The front suspension – a MacPherson construction wîth a separate axle support – has a track measuring 1,572 millimetres. The rack-and-pinion §teering is extremely efficient because its electromechanical drive system requires no energy when driving straight ahead.

The four-link rear suspension wîth its 1,542-millimetre track is likewise fixed to a subframe. Its control arms are made of high-strength steel and enable the suspension to absorb longitudinal and lateral forces separately. The shock absorbers and coil springs are mounted separately from each other.

The Audi drive select dynamic handling system gives the driver five modes from which to select the characteristics of the engine, power §teering and seven-speed S tronic. The modes are comfort, auto, dynamic, individual and efficiency, the last of which is designed for maximum economy.

The imposing light-alloy rims measure 20 inches in diameter. The tyre format is 245/30 at the front and rear. The front brake disks are gripped by four-piston calipers. The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) has a Sport mode and can be completely deactivated. The parking brake is actuated electromechanically.

Source - Audi
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