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Video: CNET checks the tech on the Audi A3 e-tron Sportback

Audi is desperately trying to fix its image after the recent diesel scandal enveloping the entire Volkswagen Group, so it comes at the right time that Audi is releasing its first ever electrified car to the US quite soon. The Audi A3 e-tron Sportback is Audi’s first foray into the electrified world in the US and it should prove to be a good start. Its plug-in hybrid powertrain means that it doesn’t need a long range on pure electric power, as it also has a small gasoline engine to back it up.

In this video review from CNET, Brian Cooley checks Audi’s first plug-in hybrid car to see what it’s actually like to drive.

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

The A3 e-tron comes with a 1.4 liter turbocharged TFSI four-cylinder engine paired with an electric motor and some batteries. Overall, it has 204 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which are very respectable numbers for a car in its class. However, its 3,700 lb curb weight hurts its performance quite a bit. 0-60 mph comes in 7.6 seconds, which is slower than the all-electric BMW i3 but a bit faster than the Chevy Volt. It also feels a bit wallowy in corners, thanks to all of that battery weight and the fact that it only comes in front-wheel drive form, no Quattro system here.

Cooley notes that while the A3 e-tron is quite nice to drive, it has a sort of CVT feel to its powertrain, despite the fact that it uses a dual-clutch transmission, and that’s not a good thing. He chalks this strange feel up to the fact that the e-tron is constantly shuffling between gas and electric as it sees fit, so it might feel a bit odd at first.

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

However, he does remark on the incredibly well made cabin, some truly fascinating technology and great looks. He does admit that it’s his least favorite Audi, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering how great most Audis are. In terms of EVs, the A3 e-tron is an excellent car and one anyone in the market should consider. It’s also an excellent start for Audi and the e-tron technology should only improve. We’ll see some new and interesting tech at the coming Consumer Electronics Show and Detroit Auto Show in the coming months.

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.