Audi has revealed a new 201bhp petrol-electric hybrid powered version of its third-generation Audi A3 at the Geneva motor show.

The new car, pictured here officially for the first time, is the latest product of the German car maker’s e-tron initiative. It aims to provide existing Audi  models with hybrid and all-electric propulsion technology at a price to rival traditional petrol, diesel and natural gas propelled models.

Having previously developed e-tron versions of its entry level A1 and R8 sportscar, only to announce they would not see production, Audi is putting a more positive spin on the newer A3 e-tron, describing it as a “realistic glimpse into the future”, suggesting it will “play a deciding role in the strategy of the brand”.

At the heart of the familiar looking hatchback is a modified version of Audi parent company Volkswagen’s new EA211 engine. The 1.4-litre four-cylinder direct-injection petrol unit delivers 148bhp and operates in combination with an electric motor mounted in the front of the new car’s six-speed dual clutch gearbox, where it develops up to 101bhp.

Together, the transversely mounted petrol engine and electric motor provide a maximum system output of 201bhp, with combined torque put at 258lb ft – figures that top the output of the new A3 1.8 TFSI’s turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder direct injection petrol engine by 24bhp and 74lb ft.

The new drivetrain is capable of running in three different modes - solely in petrol mode, solely in electric mode or in hybrid mode, which sees both power sources pool their reserves for added performance.

Audi has yet to provide details to the A3 e-tron’s battery pack, charge time or kerb weight, but official claims put its 0-62mph acceleration at 7.6sec and top speed at 138mph.

In electric mode the new Audi reaches a claimed top speed of 81mph and possesses a maximum range of 31 miles.

Taking advantage of loopholes in the European fuel consumption procedure that allows the new car to complete the test primarily in electric mode with energy provided through plug-in means, the German car maker quotes a combined cycle fuel consumption figure of 188.3mpg, endowing the A3 e-tron with average CO2 emissions of just 35g/km.

By comparison, the A3 1.8 TFSI returns a claimed 54.3mpg and emits 130g/km of CO2.

Audi is yet to confirm when the A3 e-tron will see large scale production. However, insiders at its Ingolstadt headquarters in Germany have confirmed to Autocar that plans already exist for a limited production run of the new car for in-house testing purposes. However, a hybrid based on the MQB platform will be a production reality - a Golf hybrid is scheduled to be revealed soon.