Audi's A3 e-tron isn't a hot hatch, it's an electrifying one
What you're seeing here is Audi's latest tentative step into the world of electrification.
It's the 2016 A3 e-tron Sportback and as you can probably tell, It's a hatchback.
In fact, it's the only way that you can get the new A3 in this sportback configuration.
And if you're as big a fan of compact hatches as I am, well we're already off on the right foot with a big check in the pros column.
What's interesting about this being the last of the sportbacks is that it's not uncommon for people just to mistake it for an older A3.
Which isn't so great.
If you want to show off your shiny, new car.
But it is kind of nice if you like a little bit of stealth to go along with your green driving.
Speaking of stealth, check out this cool feature here at the front.
Hidden beneath the 4 ring badge is the charging port for his plug in hybrid vehicle, now the operation of his hidden door is a little low tech but it doesn't exactly feel cheap.
Plugging in the [UNKNOWN] takes it 8.8 kilowatt hour battery from flat to full in just Two hours and 15 minutes.
That's on 240 volts of power.
If you're just plugging into a 110 wall outlet, expect an eight hour overnight charge.
For the trouble the [INAUDIBLE] set up a 31 miles of electric range.
Electric power flows to an electric motor, at the front of the vehicle, it's good for 102 horsepower and about 243 pound feet of torque.
Now around town, that's a good amount of torque and since it starts at zero rpm, it means that the E-tronic, gets off the line.
Nice and tidily.
It feels very responsive and snappy around town.
If you've ever driven something like a Nissan Leaf or a Ford Focus Electric, you know about how this car feels.
Now for the first 31 miles of it's battery's charge, this is a full electric vehicle.
There's no speed cap on that.
You can get up to highway speeds without using a drop of gas.
But once that battery reaches a critical level then the gasoline engine jumps in.
Now speaking of that engine, it's a 1.4 liter turbo charged gasoline engine that makes, by itself, about 150 horsepower and about 184 pound feet of torque when it's working by itself.
But of course it's never really working by itself, is it?
When both engines are working together, the total output's about 204 horse power.
That's because hybrid math is never as simple as addition.
Total torque is not really stated.
The car feels nice and peppy when the electric engine's working by itself, but, when you really step on it and they get together, you get some pretty good pick up once the turbo charged engine Then gains a little bit of steam.
Handling for the A3 is pretty good, it feels a little bit heavier than the A3 sedan that we drove last year.
But the extra torque more then makes up for it.
Plus this premium fluff model has nice wide 225 width tires that really help it stick in the corners.
But this isn't really a canyon carving car, it's more of a city car.
And zero to 60 runs is a good way to waste all 31 miles of your battery.
In a couple of minutes.
Now the e-tron is new to us here in the States, but the A3 Sportback that it's based on is getting close to about 4 years old globally.
That means that we don't exactly have the bleeding edge of Audi technology.
In the dashboard we've got the Audi Connect Infotainment System that sort of slides up out of the dashboard like an LCD pop tart.
And it's pushing really good NVIDIA graphics that are crisp and responsive.
Now the connect part of the Audi Connect Infotainment means that we have a 4G LTE data connection built in which means we can do really cool things like Get Google Earth imagery on our map when navigating.
Or use the web to search for a destination.
I am a little disappointed to see this proprietary Audi MMI connector in the center console when most of the newest Audi vehicles have moved onto USB.
And I'm even more disappointed to find that it's a paid option.
On the subject of driver aid technology, this mid tier premium plus model doesn't have a whole lot to offer.
We've got Audi's side assist blind spot monitoring.
We've got a rear view camera and park proximity sensors, but the more advance features, things like the adapter cruise control and lane departure prevention, are there for the top tier prestige model.
I think the thing that I like the most about the A3 etron is just how much of a regular car it is.
On the outside it looks just like any old Audi A3.
It doesn't have a lot of styling that draws a lot of attention to itself.
Screaming, hey look at me I'm a hybrid.
You can't even see the charging ports.
When you're parked and I really kind of like Audi's sort of timeless, just on the right side of boring designs and I think if the price is right it'll appeal to a lot of drivers.
Speaking of price let's talk about that for a second.
The 2016 Audi A3 Etron Sportback starts at about 37,900$ for the entry level model And tops out at just under $49,000 for a fully loaded prestige model.
Here with this premium plus with it's tech package, we're at the middle of the road around $46,000 as tested.
For that amount of money the etron [UNKNOWN] between vehicles such as the new Chevrolet volt which is going to offer a lot more electric range and efficiency for a little bit less money.
And Mercedes Benz is 2016 C class plug in hybrid.
Which has a lot more amenities and luxury but a little bit less electric range.
Personally I think the A3 slots nicely between those vehicles blending the efficiency and amenities as well.
Plus it's a much smaller vehicle which means that it's a lot more city friendly and you just got to love those timeless Audi hatchback lines, all right.