The Audi A3 is offered as a sedan, convertible, or 5-door Sportback. Available engines include a turbocharged 1.8L unit that produces 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. This engine sends power to the front wheels through a 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox. A 2.0L turbodiesel (TDI) engine making 150 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque is a fuel economy hero in the A3 range, and Audi estimates 36 mpg in combined city and highway driving for the TDI. Like the 1.8 engine, the 2.0L TDI sends power to the front wheels through a 6-speed dual-clutch transmission.
A 2.0L turbocharged gasoline engine makes the A3 a little bit speedier, with 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Unlike the 1.8 and TDI versions, any A3 powered by a 2.0L gasoline engine sends power to all-four wheels via quattro all-wheel drive. A high-performance version of this same engine powers the Audi S3, where it makes 292 horsepower -- enough to go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds.
Finally, the A3 Sportback e-tron hybrid utilizes an electric motor that makes 102 horsepower and 243 pound-feet of torque, plus a 1.4L turbocharged gasoline engine capable of 150 horsepower. When combined, the two powerplants make 204 horsepower, making it one of the most powerful hybrids available. The Sportback e-tron can drive on purely electric power for about 17 miles,
The Audi A3 is available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige, while the S3 is available only in Premium Plus and Prestige trims.
The Premium trim includes leather seating, 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, and a 10-speaker sound system with a 3-month subscription to SiriusXM satellite radio.
The Premium Plus trim adds 18-inch wheels, aluminum interior trim, and a keyless entry system. The Prestige package, meanwhile, includes everything in Premium Plus, as well as an S-line exterior body kit, a Bang and Olufsen sound system, a navigation system, Audi connect and LED headlights.
Safety features on the A3 and S3 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.
The new 2016 A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid arrives in the United States this year, bringing the "sportback" body style with it. If your excitement for the latestwas dampened when you learned that we'd only be getting a sedan for this generation, then prepare to turn the enthusiasm wick back up.
The e-tron badge signifies that an Audi is electrified, but not necessarily fully electric. The A3 e-tron is a plug-in hybrid that uses both electric and gasoline engines.
The electric motor is a 102-horsepower unit that makes a very potent 243 pound-feet of torque. The e-motor is joined by a 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine that adds 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque to the mix. However, hybrid math is never as simple as addition, so the total system output is stated at 204 peak horsepower. Combined torque is not stated, but probably not much more than the e-motor's 243 pound-feet.
The Good The 2016 Audi A3 e-tron's electric motor offers a healthy 243 pound-feet of torque before the gasoline engine joins in, bringing the total output to 204 horsepower. The Audi Connect infotainment system offers 4G LTE data, useful for navigating and monitoring the PHEV's charging remotely. The e-tron's performance around town and while touring is quite good for an eco car.
The Bad With an EPA estimated 17 miles per charge (22 miles, as tested), the e-tron struggles to justify its plug-in hybrid price premium. Audi's proprietary MMI connection smartphone connection is a separate paid option.
The Bottom Line The 2016 Audi A3 e-tron adds eco-friendliness and a bit of utility to the already premium A3, but it's far from the best choice for plug-in hybrid efficiency or EV range.
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