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New Audi A3 e-tron hybrid comes with optional 'the Internet'

Audi's busted out a new addition to its range of electric concept cars. The latest model, the A3 e-tron, is based on the company's familiar A3 platform.

Rory Reid
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Audi's busted out a new addition to its e-tron range of electric concept cars. The latest model, the A3 e-tron, is based on the company's familiar A3 platform, known in some circles as a rich man's Volkswagen Golf.

Rich is a pretty apt word, since the A3 e-tron has a cockpit full of vorsprung durch thingy. It includes a UMTS modem that allows the car's sat-nav to download online services (points of interest and so forth) from the mighty Google, and has a built-in Wi-Fi adaptor that lets the car act as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, so passengers can surf the Web on the move. 

The ability to tweet while driving would probably have been enough for us, but Audi's chucked in a few extra tech flourishes. The A3 e-tron's high-end audio system includes motorised speakers that protrude from the doors by a few millimetres when activated, rather like the Bang & Olufsen speakers in Aston Martin's cars. It even comes with a large 8-inch display just ahead of the steering wheel, which lets you view and interact with various car settings.

The Audi A3 e-tron's propulsion system is suitably pimped out. Behind the shiny chrome grille, which looks to have been inspired by a rapper's mouth, lies a plug-in petrol-electric hybrid platform that delivers a total power output of 238PS (235bhp).

That's sufficient to achieve a 0-62mph time of just 6.8 seconds and a top speed of 144mph -- numbers which make this one of the fastest hybrid cars on the planet today.

The A3 e-tron could end up being one of the cheapest hybrids to run thanks to a 12kWh battery that allows up to 34 miles of electric-only driving. When the battery is depleted, it can either be topped up via the A3 e-tron's regenerative braking system or charged fully using a standard electrical outlet -- eliminating the need for visiting a petrol station almost entirely.

We've no word as to when the A3 e-tron will go on sale, but its fully electric brother the R8 e-tron will hit the streets in late 2012, so here's hoping it won't follow too far behind. 

Pics are, as usual, in the gallery above. 

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