Our Audi A3 plug-in hybrid has many fine points but boot space isn’t one of them. At 280 litres with the seats up it is 100 litres smaller than the conventionally powered A3 (380l), due to repositioning various bits under the floor to make room for the battery.
While a smaller boot space is par for the course with electric vehicles (EVs), the A3’s boot is still smaller than key rival the Mercedes-Benz A250e, which offers 310l (60l fewer than the conventional A-Class).
When a week’s family holiday in self-catering accommodation beckoned I made the decision to switch to Audi’s Volkswagen Group stablemate, the Skoda Octavia estate, which we also have on long-term test.
Both cars are based on the same platform and can be chosen with the same engines.
However, our long-term Octavia is the 1.5 TSI and not the plug-in hybrid and its boot is cavernous, offering 640l with the seats up and 1,700 with them folded. This meant it easily accommodated a week’s food shopping, suitcases, pushchair, toys and all the other ‘just in case’ items needed for a holiday with a two-year-old.
Of course, it’s unfair to compare an estate car with a hatchback, especially one that prides itself on practicality, but my situation illustrates the heart versus head scenario that company car drivers can face when selecting their new model.
The A3 is sportier and more desirable than the Octavia but the latter is hard to beat when it comes to space, equipment and value for money. And now that I’m a parent going for the sensible option is becoming the norm.
However, there is an alternative solution. Leasing and car subscription providers can bundle two weeks car hire into an EV contract for the occasions when you need a bigger vehicle or, when it comes to a pure EV, one with a longer range.
Audi A3 40 TFSI e S Line joins our fleet
The A3 Sportback 40 TFSI e is Audi’s entry model plug-in hybrid, replacing the A3 e-tron.
It has a 13kWh battery and electric motor alongside a 1.4-litre petrol, giving it a WLTP-certified range of up to 40 miles in electric mode, combined fuel economy of 282.5 mpg and CO2 of 25g/km.
We’re testing the range topping S Line trim, which would usually be in the 11% benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax bracket, but we’ve opted to ‘downgrade’ the wheels to 17-inch ones so it sits in the 7% band (the same as the Sport model).
Our model comes equipped with the comfort and sound pack (£1,195), which Audi says brings together some of the most popular options to “offer improved customer value”. These are: parking assist with parking system plus; Bang & Olufsen Premium Sound System with 3D sound; heated front seats; and a reversing camera.
We’ve also specified high beam assist (£100) and Mythos black metallic paint (£575), which complements the black leather sports seats.
On the road the A3 reaches 0-62mph in a brisk 7.6 second and has precise steering but the ride is a little too firm, so I’ve mainly been driving in ‘comfort’ mode.
After 765 miles, the Audi has an average consumption of 71.3mpg thanks to plenty of short journeys. I’ve been regularly charging the car using a domestic socket in my garage, which takes five hours from empty, and typically have an available electric range of 34 miles.