When Audi introduced its all-new A3 generation in the U.S. in 2014, only the sedan was offered with the promise that the popular Sportback version would be coming. That follow-up is the A3 e-tron, the exclusive A3 Sportback choice here in the 2016 model year. This exclusivity makes this $37,900 A3 e-tron all the more special.
The A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid makes use of the same 150-horsepower, 1.4 liter TFSI gasoline engine and six-speed S tronic transmission as conventional Sportbacks available in offshore markets. The e-tron adds a liquid-cooled, 102 horsepower electric motor to deliver a satisfying 7.6 second 0 to 60 mph launch and the kind of spirited driving experience expected of an Audi.
The car’s lithium-ion battery pack is located beneath the rear bench seat, allowing fold-flat seats and the hatchback utility of a Sportback since there’s no battery intrusion in the cargo area. This battery allows up to 17 miles of all-electric driving to handle typical around-town driving chores.
Driving on battery and hybrid power delivers an overall driving range of just under 400 miles. Fuel economy is an EPA estimated combined 89 MPGe when running on battery power and 35 mpg in hybrid mode.
Audi likens its A3 Sportback as kind of a Swiss Army Knife of hybrids because of its four selectable driving modes. EV mode provides pure electric driving, the default mode at every start. Hybrid mode chooses the most efficient power and is ideal for long distances. Hold Battery mode preserves charge and saves EV power for later use. Charge Battery mode charges the battery during highway driving to ensure plenty of electric range when returning to an urban area.
With the A3 Sportback e-tron, Audi set out to prove that efficiency and performance can co-exist in a premium vehicle, without sacrifice. By all measures it has accomplished this goal.