A.At the birthday party, a guest enthusiastically describes the advantages of his natural gas vehicle and praises the economy and the low fuel prices. A range of 100 kilometers for less than five euros is realistic. He noted with regret that this alternative drive unfortunately has no future because no new vehicles are being developed. If necessary, he could switch to gasoline entirely because his car had a full 50-liter tank. That evening we traveled with the Audi A3 Sportback 30 g-tron, like the natural gas-powered Škoda Octavia described in April, it is one of the last of its kind – and one of the best ground vehicles that you can still buy.
As is customary in the VW Group, the Audi A3 has a monovalent design, so it only has a small 9-liter emergency petrol tank and three CNG tanks take up a total of 17.3 kg of gas. You cannot switch between the two types of drive manually. Natural gas is used until the tanks are empty. Then the switch to gasoline takes place automatically, which is also occasionally required when starting the engine.
No manual switchover between gas and petrol
The natural gas A3 comes as standard with a seven-speed automatic transmission and has front-wheel drive. The 1.5-liter four-cylinder has an output of 131 hp and a maximum torque of 200 Newton meters. This means that the vehicle, which weighs 1430 kilograms including the driver, is well motorized, albeit not designed for fast driving. The standard sprint is completed in a little less than 10 seconds and the top speed is 210 km / h.
The same applies to this natural gas vehicle: Everything is included. When we traveled around 100 kilometers to the said birthday party and put our foot on the accelerator on the autobahn, the on-board computer showed an average consumption of a spectacular 3.3 kilograms. For that, however, you have to take a lot back. The return trip was much faster in the evening, with performance and passion, and the display promptly showed 5.5 kilograms. In mixed operation, we came to an average consumption of 4.58 kilograms and thus a natural gas range of 380 kilometers. Audi states an average consumption of 3.6 kilograms and CO2 emissions of 99 grams per kilometer.
The base price of the natural gas A3, which is only available as a Sportback, starts at 32,000 euros, so it is only 600 euros more expensive than the comparable A3 Sportback 35 TFSI with S-Tronic and 150 PS and 400 euros cheaper than the 30 TDI diesel with S-Tronic and 116 hp. This, too, is an announcement that one would have wished for earlier in the natural gas sector and not just now, when technology is coming to an end. The natural gas A3 comes with LED headlights as standard, as well as a digital instrument cluster and a wide range of assistance systems.