The Los Angeles motor show threw up the opportunity to drive the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, Ingolstadt’s petrol-electric plug-in hybrid, in the hills above Santa Monica. 

It was a pre-production version of the new-for-2014 car, similar to the one driven and reviewed by Richard Bremner back in September

Like Richard, I came away impressed, particularly with the refined way that the A3 e-tron juggles between the 1.4 TFSI engine and the electric motor, how little throttle application is required to keep it trickling along in flowing traffic and, somewhat surprisingly, the confident way it tackles twisty roads. 

It doesn’t feel like a vehicle that suffers unduly from the weight penalty of having to haul around an electric motor, battery pack and ancillaries.

It remains to be seen whether UK motorists will be willing to stump up the extra financial outlay compared to a conventionally powered A3 Sportback, with the hybrid expected to cost about £32,000.

Nevertheless, Audi has, to me, produced one of the most well-rounded mainstream hybrids so far. It makes me wonder whether the slower pace of the VW Group’s electric and hybrid vehicle programmes, compared to some of its key rivals, hasn’t actually played to its advantage.