“Audi A3 E-Tron”
But the real game-changer, the visionary moment, occurred when we starting playing around with those steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. As mentioned, all BEVs have regenerative braking, which is felt as drag on the vehicle when it is rolling. The A3 E-Tron takes things one leap further by allowing the driver to vary regenerative intensity. While not the only BEV that offers varying levels of regen intensity, it is the first that puts the controls at your fingertips like this. It may sound superfluous, but it works amazingly well as it replicates the physical attributes of a transmission downshifting.
Bring the A3 E-Tron up to 50 mph and pull the right paddle shifter a few times. With the throttle off, the hatchback will glide as if it is in Neutral. Give the left paddle a tug or two and it feels as if a six-speed manual was dropped into third gear. Pull it again and it replicates the higher drag of second gear. Not only does this increase the amount of energy being recycled, but it is amusingly enjoyable. Eureka! Audi has made the BEV fun to drive.
If there was a car company to garner the words from a press editorial about making an electric vehicle fun to drive, it would not surprise me that it would be an Audi. From a historic perspective, Subaru was probably the first car company to successfully incorporate all-wheel drive on all their cars. However, it was Audi’s success with an all-wheel drive platform in their race cars that has a lot to do with the prevalence of this drive system in most makes of cars today.
The engineers at Audi are not only sensitive to what makes cars fun to drive but are also keen to maximizing their potential. And the fact they can do this with an electric vehicle isn’t the least bit…shocking.