A tougher stance on air quality and significant advances in petrol engine technology could soon be prompting many more business drivers to make the switch to hybrid motoring.
Both developments bode well for Audi, which is joining the electric car revolution at just the right time after taking more than five years to put its version of cleaner mobility on the road.
By making its clever e-tron techology available across all models over the next few years, Audi is aiming to be a vanguard supplier of transport that blends versatility with driving pleasure and a practical low-emission range.
The company’s first hybrid is the A3 Sportback and the competent all-rounder that has become one of the nation’s best-selling corporate cars has proved a star performer on our long-term test fleet. Whether it uses petrol or electricity, this compact family estate model has a strong performance and is delightful long distance transport.
With a battery range of up to 31 miles, the e-tron is ideal for city use. But there is a hefty premium over the equivalent TDI-powered version, albeit tempered by extra specification features that include LED headlights, sports seats, special alloys, MMI navigation and Audi Connect online services.
Over more than 9,000 miles with the car, it’s been clear that the official economy figure of 176mpg should be ignored because the test regime for plug-in hybrids is totally unrealistic. But our overall figures remain impressive, with more than 60mpg achieved.
As the campaign for improved air quality intensifies, the e-tron is a compelling proposition, marred only by a navigation system with fiddly route inputting, somewhat intrusive tyre noise and a slight handling penalty of a 125kg battery system weight.