2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron®
Class: Luxury vehicle
Fuel Economy: Combined mpg-e 83-86 (combustion & electric); Combined mpg 35-39 (combustion only); EV-range 16-17 miles
Base Price: $37,900
Forward-thinking, trend-setting, innovative – all of these words adequately describe Audi’s first attempt at the electric world. And, although this plug-in hybrid yields a flagship design for the luxury vehicle market, signature markings (like the grille rings) make this Sportback model recognizably Audi!
What should you expect? Well, breaking it down into more simple terminology, the A3 Sportback e-tron® is a five-door vehicle with 13.6 cu ft of cargo trunk space increased by folding backseats. The hybrid model offers a 1.4-liter engine plus an electric motor and 8.8 kWh lithium-ion hybrid battery pack for a combined system rating of 204 horsepower packaged with front-wheel drive and six-speed automatic transmission.
Traditional Audi interior is not overlooked in the e-tron model. You will be pleasantly surprised that gizmos and gadgets are familiar to the eyes and to the touch, and that luxurious feeling of comfort and timeless class are also present. Headroom and legroom are adequately accounted for…basically the standard beauty of an Audi is unmistakable even in this new format.
So here’s the deal: if you are driving on a daily commute, you’ll want to charge the battery every evening when you get home to maximize efficiency. That may sound challenging, but the charging process is actually pretty easy. The High Voltage Battery Charging Socket is located behind the Audi rings on the front of the grille for easy access. Twist the knob located in the second ring to open the panel. To charge, the charging cable must be plugged into the charging dock. When the charging cable is plugged into the vehicle, the plug is locked and cannot be removed. You will see a yellow status LED. The charging cycle starts with the selector lever in position P and the operating unit is connected to the AC voltage source. The status LED will flash green during the charging procedure. It takes approximately eight hours to charge from a 120 volt outlet and only two and a half hours from 240 volts.
There are four options for driving modes and your driving habits including distance will dictate which mode you need to use and when.
- EV Mode – the A3 Sportback e-tron® is powered by the electric motor only.
- Hybrid Mode – the car intelligently selects the most efficient power source: either EV, Hybrid or gasoline.
- Hold Battery Mode – provides hybrid driving, while preserving any EV range for later use.
- Charge Battery Mode – uses the gasoline engine to recharge the battery at highway speeds.
Is this vehicle what your family needs? I think that can easily be determined by how much short-distance driving you have and how much charging time you have available. If those are variables that fit with your lifestyle, this is an excellent choice and your trips to the gas station will be fewer. In conclusion, I think that the A3 e-tron® offers a great opportunity for choice: efficiency in short-term driving and dependable gas-powered extended driving. Two choices. One car.
**NOTE** Audi A3 Sportback e-tron® is a finalist for 2016 Luxury Green Car of the Year and 2016 Connected Green Car of the Year.
Photos courtesy of Audi.