‘A stake in the ground’ was how Audi described the plug-in hybrid A3 e-tron recently.

The firm’s flirtation with electric propulsion has been prolonged – the original R8-styled e-tron concept was shown at Geneva five years ago – but the Sportback is the first production model to actually adopt the badge.

The wait, says Audi, is due to its insistence that a zero-emissions-capable Audi ought not to be either a second-car compromise or too huge a leap for its buyers to understand.

Thus its EV comes packaged as a plug-in hybrid that doesn’t require a great deal of plugging in, has grunt to spare and is virtually indistinguishable from any other A3.

It also comes with some easily understood headline claims: 37g/km of CO2, 7.6sec to 62mph and a 580-mile range.

The implied lack of trade-off is compelling, and with only its sister car – the Volkswagen Golf GTE – for immediate company, Audi’s initial electrified offering seems uncannily well judged.

Could this be the consummate petrol/electric hybrid we’ve been waiting for? Read our review to find out whether it’s a lit bulb or a blown fuse. 

Top 5 Family hatchbacks

  • Seventh generation Volkswagen Golf
    More than 29 million Golfs have been sold since 1974

    Volkswagen Golf

    1
  • The popular Ford Focus in 1.5 TDCi Zetec form
    The standout component of the Ford Focus has always been its handling

    Ford Focus

    2
  • Seat Leon
    Seat offers five engines for the Leon, ranging from a 104bhp 1.2 petrol to a 181bhp 2.0 diesel

    Seat Leon

    3
  • Seventh generation Vauxhall Astra
    The seventh-generation Vauxhall Astra seems to be a collection of General Motors' latest and greatest technology

    Vauxhall Astra

    4
  • Mazda 3
    The SkyActiv platform used in the 3 features more high and ultra-high-strength steel, offering greater strength and less weight

    Mazda 3

    5

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