Originally published on CleanTechnica.
“This is a noisy beast!!”
That was the first thing that came to my mind and lips when I turned on the Audi A3 TDI 2.0 that I rented last week. And no, it wasn’t a positive thought — well, I guess you could say it became one as I thought about how wonderful electric cars are that they eliminate that noisy nonsense.
I’ve had to rent several gas- and diesel-powered cars in the past year, and I think this one was particularly noisy, but this is obviously one of the big user downsides of all non-electric cars.
As you may have seen, I drove and reviewed the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, a plug-in hybrid electric car, back in August. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it, as I had just driven a (cheaper) Renault Zoe and realized when driving the A3 e-tron that I really wasn’t “into” plug-in hybrids — they’re just one step below fully electric or extended-range electric cars in drive quality, from what I’ve experienced.
However, compared to the Audi A3 TDI I rented, the A3 e-tron was a gem. The A3 e-tron was definitely much quieter and smoother. It also felt a lot sportier.
As a gas/diesel car, the A3 is a decent car. It’s actually the car I wanted when I was 19 and somewhat clueless. The style suits me, the steering wheel and seats felt like a nice quality (especially for the price), and the car is neither too big nor too small for my taste.
But gas/diesel cars just suck. They are noisy, smelly, rough beasts. Sure, if you want to feel like a lightly clothed Neanderthal, they serve their purpose, but if you want a quick, powerful, quiet spaceship, you need a 21st-century electric car. A plug-in hybrid may not be as ideal as a fully electric car, but at least it’s in the same league and has many of the same benefits to some degree… plus that extra gasoline- or diesel-powered range for the few times you may want it.
And we haven’t even talked about convenience yet. I rented the A3 TDI, drove it ~100 miles away, parked it, and drove back a few days later. If it were an electric car (with adequate range), I could have just plugged in at the destination and then plugged in when we arrived back in Wrocław. With a diesel car, though, I had to fill up at a smelly gas station while inhaling carcinogenic fumes. Doing this once in awhile is annoying enough, but doing it on a weekly (or some other regular) basis must be annoying as heck. I remember the habit from when I owned a gasmobile ~11 years ago, but still, it’s hard to imagine living like that.
Anyhow, back to the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron vs Audi A3 Sportback TDI 2.0 review…
- Audi A3 Sportback e-tron: If you feel a need for a plug-in hybrid, this is really a solid option. The interior quality is great. It is sport and fun. And it looks hot. I’d still probably choose a Volt over the A3 e-tron, but then again, I wouldn’t choose a car with less than 70 miles of electric range.
- Audi A3 Sportback TDI 2.0: Don’t.
Admittedly, I didn’t have enough time in the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron to closely compare its infotainment with the A3 Sportback TDI’s. I assume they’re basically the same, though.