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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 .

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 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 . 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 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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