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Direct e-tron rivals are hard to come by. Audi likes to compare it with the BMW i3 Range Extender and Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid.

Neither is a perfect comparison, but the A3 is substantially cheaper than the latter and a wisp pricier than the former. Of greater consequence is its premium within the Sportback range, where, even with the £5000 government grant, the e-tron is £6000 more expensive than a 2.0 TDI SE Technik. But more importantly, its key rivals are the Volkswagen Golf GTE and the BMW 330e both of which are equally adept cars with minimal drawback.

Nic Cackett

Nic Cackett

Road tester
The e-tron is a better bet than the i3, on the residuals front, and stays slightly ahead of the Golf GTE's values after three years

Presented with a life of motorway work, that car would almost certainly prove cheaper to run, but there are, of course, substantial savings for the business user, with the e-tron’s lowly CO2 emissions incurring it just five per cent BIK.

Urban commutes also favour the tax-free, congestion charge-dodging e-tron, although it’s worth spotlighting the extent of those abilities. Audi claims 31 miles on a full charge; on reasonably temperate winter days, we were unable to extract more than 18 miles.

The small battery does mean short charge times, though (just over two hours from a public point or around four from a domestic plug), and the e-tron is quite adept at recharging itself.

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It won’t completely top up the battery, but in ideal conditions the engine will have restored 10 miles of electric range within about 10 miles, but expect the effort to reduce the petrol-only economy to 27-28mpg.

To help soften the blow of the e-tron's premium it comes very well equipped, so not much box ticking is required. That said, we'd be tempted to see if the optional 18-inch wheels fix the car's traction problems.

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