Fire and ice


Iceland is a place where the 4x4 rules, but the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron – Audi’s first plug-in hybrid – is the obvious choice for a country with an abundant supply of natural power

You might think that the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid would stand out in remote Iceland. Here, the locals tend to drive petrol-guzzling 4x4s with custom ‘balloon’ tyres (good for driving on the glaciers, I’m told). However, in a land with an abundant supply of renewable electricity generated by geothermal power plants, hydroelectric dams and wind farms – the e-tron is the perfect vehicle.

   Iceland is a world-leader in producing clean and renewable energy, and if an exciting project between the National Power Company of Iceland (Landsvirkjun) and the UK’s National Grid goes ahead, we could soon be powering our electric cars with natural energy from Iceland in the UK. Known as IceLink, the project would connect Iceland and northern Scotland with 1000km of undersea cabling – the largest super connector of its kind.

   A lot of this energy is produced in geothermal power plants in a process that uses heat from the Earth to generate steam, which is then captured and used to generate electricity and heat homes. In fact, around 99.9 per cent of the buildings in the capital Reykjavik are heated by geothermal water.

   And evidence of this volcanic power is all around – from the bubbling geysers and ancient glaciers where Icelandic ponies now graze, to the black sand beaches on the south coast. Driving to all these wonders is done in comfort and ease thanks to the A3 Sportback e-tron and the island’s 1300km Route 1 – a huge expanse of tarmac that encircles the island in one supersized ring road.

   Heading into the city there’s a chance to recharge the A3 e-tron in Reykjavik, then explore the sights of the city, including the stunning Hallgrímskirkja Lutheran church, which was finally finished in 1986 after 41 years and is the sixth tallest architectural structure in the country.

   Of course, after a long day of travelling one of the most welcome sights is a delicious fish supper, and they don’t get much better than those served at the Fish Market (Fiskmarkaðurinn). This luxurious restaurant provides a chance to unwind with a glass of wine or local beer and, unsurprisingly for an eatery that lies less than a kilometre from the sea, the sushi and fish dishes are some of the best I’ve eaten. And most likely cooked using some of the cleanest electricity around.

Written by Emma Barlow. Photographs by Christoffer Rudquist. Restaurant photographs by Björn Árnason.

 

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