Audi’s goal to create a tech-savvy plug-in electric without sacrificing its well-known brand benchmarks – drivability, quality construction and a “special car feel,” have yielded the A3 e-Tron; a sportback with one foot solidly placed in the luxury world and the other taking a step into the electric vehicle lifestyle realm. The A3 e-Tron’s compact wagon body style provides the cargo space of a small SUV while providing the driving characteristics of a sporty car. Audi claims a fuel economy of more than 70 MPG is possible. The A3 e-tron's battery can be charged from a 240-volt outlet in 2.5 hours and in about 8 hours from a standard 110-volt outlet. Onboard regenerative braking also adds some juice to the battery while the A3 e-tron is being driven. There's a driver-selectable switch that engages the gasoline engine and shuts out the electric drive. If you want to save electric power for specific occasions, this can be useful.
The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron base price starts at around $39,500.
www.whatcar.com reviewers say: “If you have any preconceptions that a car using battery power will feel slow, then you’ll find the A3 Sportback e-tron a revelation. Even when using just the electric motor it’s not exactly slow, but when you use it with both the electric motor and the 1.4-litre petrol engine combined it’s decently quick. It pulls hard right from the off and will despatch the 0-62mph sprint in a hot-hatch-bating 7.6sec, and will happily cruise at motorway speeds.”
2018 e-Tron is available in 3 trim: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige. Premium includes leather seating with heated front seats, a panoramic glass sunroof, bi-xenon automatic headlights, power adjustable side mirrors with integrated LED turn signals, dual-zone automatic climate control, a 12-way power adjustable driver's seat, rearview camera and parking sensors, "Alu-optic" interior trim, heated mirrors and washer nozzles, twin USB power/data ports, and a 10-speaker sound system with a 3-month subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio.
You can add a convenience package which includes keyless start, stop and entry, as well as Audi's music interface and better smartphone integration. The sport package on the other hand, adds sportier front seat, a driving mode selector and a flat bottom steering wheel with shift paddles. A sport suspension is also available that reduces the ride height by 15 mm.
Premium Plus trim gives you 18-inch wheels, aluminum interior accents, Audi side assist, a Bang & Olufsen sound system, and keyless entry. Prestige includes everything in Premium Plus, along with an S-line exterior body kit, a navigation system, Audi connect and LED headlights.
Option packages for the Premium Plus include a technology package that features Audi Connect PRIME and PLUS, a navigation system, Audi's side assist system with rear traffic alert and what Audi calls their "virtual cockpit," which is a digital display in the instrument cluster featuring a view of the road ahead as well as plenty of relevant driving information.
Safety features on all the A3 models include anti-lock brakes, traction control, stability control and a tire pressure monitoring system. Airbags include advanced driver and passenger front airbags, knee airbags, thorax side airbags as well as side curtain airbags. An anti-theft alarm system comes standard, while Active Lane Assist, Audi Pre-Sense automatic braking and adaptive cruise control are all optional on the A3 Prestige.
www.whatcar.com reviewers say about the interior: “The A3 has one of the best-finished cabins in the class. Predominantly, the surfaces look and feel upmarket, with soft to the touch materials, and switches that operate with a slick, precise action.”
Edmunds reviewers say: “"The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron offers all the goodness of the regular A3 plus 16 to 18 miles of all-electric range. It's a compelling car if you want a premium plug-in hybrid without breaking the bank. The 2017 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is unique among A3s. Not only is it a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, it's also the only A3 variant that's a hatchback. Being a plug-in, the A3 e-tron allows you to drive short distances primarily on electric power, while longer trips are easily supported by the gasoline engine. And now that Audi's diesel offerings have been withdrawn, the A3 Sportback e-tron is the default choice among A3s when fuel efficiency is of paramount concern. With a full charge, its electric-only range is a modest 16 miles, but this is enough to support local errand runs. Once you run out of electric-only juice, the EPA says you can still expect 34 mpg in combined driving; for comparison, the the most frugal gas-powered A3 model achieves 27 mpg combined. Despite carrying a few hundred additional pounds of hybrid hardware, the low placement of the batteries below the rear seats hasn't drastically raised the car's center of gravity. As such, the car feels quite stable when in motion. It's eerily quiet when in electric-only mode, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that the A3 e-tron's cabin is well-hushed even when the gasoline engine fires up. Notwithstanding its hatchback body style, which gives you so added cargo-carrying utility, the e-tron is unmistakably a member of the A3 family. The charging port is hidden in the grille behind the typical Audi rings, and it shares its well-trimmed cabin with the standard A3 sedan and convertible."
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