Motor Trend drives the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi is making a strong push toward electric mobility. The e-tron Quattro Concept is leading the charge as Audi’s top shelf electric vehicle, but it also has the Q7 e-tron and the A3 e-tron. Audi’s big push toward EVs should help the brand rid itself of this pesky diesel scandal business, if it can get it right. With a lot of competition out there in the EV market, with cars like the Tesla Model S, Chevy Volt and BMW i3, it’s going to be tough for Audi to leave its mark. And if it’s going to leave a mark, it all starts with the A3 Sportback e-tron.

While the e-tron Quattro Concept will ultimately become Audi’s flagship EV, the A3 Sportback e-tron is the first Audi e-tron to hit American shores and will also be the most affordable and volume EV. So it better be good for Audi’s sake.

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Motor Trend just recently spent some time with the A3 Sportback e-tron and came away with good impressions overall. Though it isn’t perfect.

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (US-spec)

MT’s Misano Red Pearl Audi A3 Sportback e-tron was actually quite the looker. MT applauds Audi for sticking with a hatchback design despite America’s disdain for such things. It pays off, as the A3 Sportback is a very good looking little hatchback and one that doesn’t look like a stereotypical hybrid. This is no Prius, but a premium looking hatchback. The same can be said about the interior. There are no fancy screens with trees and leaves that display your fuel economy, only a well laid out cabin with high quality materials and a typically sensible German design.

Under the skin, tough, things change quite a bit. While the exterior of the A3 Sportback e-tron is quite understated, its powertrain is far from understated. Using a 102 horsepower electric motor is paired with a 150 hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine and mated to a six-speed dual-clutch automatic the A3 Sportback e-tron can get from 0-60 mph in 7.6 seconds while getting an estimated 83 mpg-e. It can also run on pure electric alone for up to 17 miles and MT saw 16 miles during its testing, which is right there with Audi’s claims. However, that equates to 1.93 miles per kW-hr which is lower than the Chevy Volt’s 2.88.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Despite the e-tron’s slightly worse efficiency than the Chevy Volt, the A3 e-tron is still a very pleasant thing to drive. In pure EV mode, it’s smooth, quite and quick, easily getting off the line with a silent surge of power. Once the engine kicks in, it’s still a smooth operator, just with a bit extra noise and power. The ride is a bit more harsh than we’d probably like, but that comes with the added weight of the batteries. Despite the added weight, though, the A3 e-tron is still faster than its TDI counterpart while weighing 365 lbs more. This should kick TDI owners right in the pants.

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The A3 e-tron is also quite the handler, as well. It has that typical Audi sharpness to it, even if the steering is a bit vague and numb. Though this is to be expected with a front-wheel drive plug-in hybrid. Aside from the numb steering and firm suspension, though, the A3 Sportback e-tron is a great little plug-in hybrid hatchback and one anyone would be happy to own. This seems like good news for Audi as its first plug-in hybrid is good looking, innovative, efficient and great to drive. If Audi needed a Home Run with its first EV, I think it may have gotten it.

[Source: Motor Trend]
Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.