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Audi E-Tron: Will Your Next Luxury Car Be Electric?

As the first wave of electric cars, including the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus electric and Mitsubishi i-MiEV enter the market, other battery-powered vehicles are tentatively dipping their toes.

Upstart electric-car maker Tesla Motors has begun delivering its Model S luxury sedans and BMW, Audi and others are testing electric models with employees or selected consumers.

I took a short drive this week in an Audi A3 prototype with the company’s e-tron electric power system. Like other electric cars I have driven, the A3 accelerated briskly and felt especially at home in city driving, where “low-end” torque is more important than raw horsepower for maneuvering assertively in traffic.

The e-tron’s electric motor normally puts out 60 kilowatts or about 82 horsepower but can generate a peak of 114 horsepower. Maximum torque is 199 lb-ft, directed to the front wheels though a single-speed transmission. The car accelerates to 60 mph in about 11 seconds and has a top speed around 90 mph.


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