We’ve come to expect a meticulous, civilised drive from the MQB-based A3 – understated to the point of cheerlessness, perhaps, but well aimed and rounded enough to satisfy most of the people most of the time.
The e-tron, in the main, continues this short streak. It is exceptionally refined, decently comfortable and undemanding in a way that makes its amiable electric passage decidedly effortless.
Unlike its powertrain, though, this character can’t be tampered with significantly. Delve into the Drive Select menu and only the apathetic steering’s weighting can be adjusted.
Adaptive dampers weren’t an option in the past; instead, the 2016 facelift ensured it now fitted as standard. This they do with a heavy-set soft flex, responding compliantly to intrusions, albeit with a dullness that never entirely lets you forget the extra mass.
In an effort to make a positive out of its onerous battery pack and relocated petrol tank, Audi points out that the e-tron’s weight distribution is a better-balanced 55 per cent front, 45 per cent rear, compared with a regular A3’s 60/40 front/rear split. Certainly, this does the Sportback’s dynamic equilibrium no harm, but it’s nonsense to argue that 400kg of mass is a boon to the handling.
The chassis copes manfully with medium effort, but push any harder and the chinks in the steering, brakes and suspension are clear. Where the standard A3 is grippy, failsafe and generally precise, its corpulent hybrid half-brother ties itself in ungainly knots when deliberately pushed hard.