2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron ultra (Review)

2016-audi-a3-e-tron-side-picture-view

The 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-Tron is a four-door, compact luxury plug-in hybrid hatchback. The e-Tron is the first plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicle that Audi has ever introduced and stands out for being the only A3 available in a hatchback style.

The A3 Sportback e-tron is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus, Prestige and comes equipped with a turbocharged 1.4-liter, 4-cylinder gas engine that is paired with an electric motor. The rechargeable 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack is located beneath the rear seats. The gas engine produces 150 horsepower and 184 lb. ft. of torque on its own, while the electric motor adds an additional 102 horsepower and 243 lb ft. of torque, so with both motors in operation, the e-Tron delivers a combined 204 horsepower and 258 lb. ft. of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels by a 6-speed automatic S tronic transmission.

2016 Audi A3 e-tron front picture view red

Standard features for the base Premium trim include- a panoramic sunroof, xenon headlights, automatic wipers and headlights, 16-inch alloy wheels, heated side mirrors, LED daytime running lights and taillights, cruise control, keyless ignition and entry, 8-way power front seats with four-way power lumbar adjustment, leather upholstery, Bluetooth connectivity, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks, LED interior lighting, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, a rearview camera, Audi’s MMI electronics interface with a 5.3-inch display, satellite and HD radio, CD player, front and rear parking sensors, a 10-speaker sound system, and an SD card slot.

The Premium Plus trim adds heated front seats, Audi’s digital music interface, 17-inch alloy wheels, adaptive LED headlights, upgraded trim, an iPod cable, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The top of the line Prestige trim adds a navigation system, a larger 7-inch display, auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors, Audi Connect online services with a 4G LTE connection, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, an advanced MMI system that includes a touchpad that can read finger handwriting, a set of driver assistance systems including adaptive cruise control, lane-departure prevention, blind-spot monitoring, and a frontal collision warning system with automatic emergency braking.

A Sport package is available for both the Prestige and Premium Plus trims and adds sporty front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, and a sport steering wheel. For the Premium trim, there is an available MMI Navigation Plus package, which adds Audi Connect and a better MMI system. A Technology package can be added to the Premium Plus trim which adds blind-spot monitoring, a basic MMI system, and Audi Connect.

There are four different hybrid and EV modes that the A3 e-tron can function in- EV, Hybrid, Battery Hold, and Battery Charge. The EV mode utilizes only electricity for totally silent and emissions-free driving. The Hybrid mode is activated when the battery is low on electric power and the gasoline engine kicks in to increase the e-Tron’s driving range. The Battery hold mode is beneficial for preserving the battery’s energy level throughout extended road trips and the lastly, the Battery charge mode continuously uses the gas engine in order to add EV range to use ahead of a trip, but because of its extensive use of the gas engine, it is not as efficient as the other modes.  In addition to the four hybrid and EV modes, there are also four Drive Select modes- Comfort, Dynamic, Automatic, and Individual. From testing, my favorite driving mode is comfort, because it provides a smoother and quieter driving experience and seems to use less fuel. As with other hybrid vehicles, onboard regenerative braking adds some power to the battery while the A3 e-Tron is being driven and like some other plug-in hybrids, the actual mileage will vary significantly depending on how much all-electric driving is utilized.

There is a charging port that is hidden in the grille area behind the Audi rings and with just the turn of a knob, the chrome rings are lifted and reveal the charging area. The battery can be charged from a 240-volt outlet in approximately 2.5 hours using the provided charging cord and an estimated 8 hours from a standard 110-volt outlet.

When the e-tron is completely out of electricity, you can still expect 39 mpg in combined driving with the standard 16-inch wheels. It is important to note that the top speed in only EV mode is 80 mph, which makes the e-Tron totally efficient even when it’s running entirely on battery power alone. The e-tron’s hybrid powertrain delivers an impressive 83-86 mpg in mixed driving, offering the perfect blend of both electric and fuel power that gives the ability to drive longer distances.

Safety features for all A3 e-tron trims include- stability and traction control, antilock brakes, front knee airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, front and rear side airbags, and an Audi Pre-Sense system which automatically pre-tensions the seatbelts and closes all of the windows when a frontal or side collision is imminent.

The Prestige trim comes with all of the aforementioned safety features, but also adds- blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure prevention, and an Audi Pre-Sense Front system that includes a radar-based frontal collision mitigation system as well as optical and audible warnings with automatic emergency braking to decrease damage in front collisions.

Even though the e-tron has the same kind of interior features and technology that the A3 sedan has, in my opinion, the A3 Sportback e-tron has a more upscale appearance with the stylish hatchback design and has a heavier, more planted feel on the road. The e-tron’s interior has a simple, yet luxurious look with high quality materials throughout the front and rear cabin.  The front seats are comfortable and supportive, but because of the A3’s compact design, there is limited head and legroom in the rear cabin for taller passengers. There are many sophisticated and well-appointed elements, such as the MMI display that glides modestly into the top of the dashboard when the power is turned off, but unlike the A7 and some of the other new 2016 Audi models, there are no USB ports to connect certain devices to.

Cargo space is good measuring approximately 13.6 cubic feet and the amount of space can be increased greatly when the rear seatbacks are folded down. The hatchback design is more accommodating and makes loading and unloading larger items easier to do.

On the road, the e-tron is a strong performer and is one of the best hybrids available, providing an enjoyable and smooth ride in a variety of road conditions and navigates easily around tight corners and in heavy traffic with excellent handling and responsiveness.

The 2016 A3 Sportback e-tron has a starting MSRP of $37,900 for the base Premium trim and a fully loaded Prestige trim can be about $48,000. A little pricey? Maybe, but I think it is well worth the price, because the e-tron is the perfect blending of plug-in hybrid technology, style, quiet and comfortable interior, luxury, and very quick on the road performance that stands out among other hybrid vehicles in its segment.

To find out more about the 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, please visit- www.audiusa.com

 

 

 

picture-blue-mom Philippa Lane is an automotive writer, expert author for Ezine Articles, and staff writer for Cable Muse Network.

 

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