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Cooley On Cars
On the road: 2016 Audi A3 e-tronAudi finally goes electric and Brian Cooley tells you what they bring to the electrified vehicle party with the new Audi A3 e-tron.
In Audi parlance, e-tron means anything with more than a basic 12 volt battery under the hood. Could be anything from a full battery electric to a mild hybrid. In this case, it's right in the middle. This Audi's first electric [UNKNOWN] Car in the US. [MUSIC] It may be a little car but it's a big deal. Because this is Audi's first electrified car that's ever actually sold in the US, that from a company that until now has really been leaning hard on getting efficiency through forced induction, turbos, and superchargers Or clean efficient diesel. But now they've either made an evolution, admission, or capitulation depending on your point of view into the world of electrified cars. Now to be sure, it's a plug in hybrid. That means it can run an extended number of miles on electric, but also won't strand you when you can't get to a charge. Okay, quick tour of our A3 sport back e-tron's cabin. Here's our pop up screen, it's got that beautiful Google Earth rendering on it courtesy of a 4G LTE connection, a very Audi thing. [MUSIC] 4G LTE is standard in these cars, navigation's not, it's weird. So if you don't have Nav, you'll at least have a hot spot to use your phone to get nav. In front of the driver, you see we're lacking that cool all video virtual **** that we just saw in the new Audi CT of the same model year. Here's it's traditional gauges. The one on the left as you see is very electrified vehicle oriented. It shows charge Discharge usage of the battery. There's one gauge, and that's a sister with the fuel gauge over on the right. Your drive controls are a very familiar looking shifter and gate for the DCT dual clutch transmission. No paddles on the wheel though. This isn't oriented that way. I think they want you to conserve more than thrash the vehicle. Now along those lines, here's Audi's drive select. We've seen this before, to give you different drive personalities. Individual, dynamic, comfort, or automatic. Next to it is a new button. It's an EV drive mode on top of those drive modes. And that'll take you through the following four. Electric where it goes battery only only. Hybrid where it blends the two. That's the most overall efficient. Hold battery means take the charge in the battery and don't use it. And charge battery says the battery is down. Charge it up at all costs so I have it ready later. Unlike some plug ins this one's easy to keep in pure electric mode without really babying the pedal. Thanks to that EV mode switch we just saw. This 1.4 liter turbo joined by electric motor and 8.8 kilowat hour battery generates 204 horsepower system, 258 pound feet of torque. Front wheel drive only on this one. No cuatro and as I mentioned six speed dual clutch is your only transmission. The 36 hundred pounds of this little guy gets to 60 in about seven and a half seconds. 35 MPG average. 83 MPGe if you fully exploit the cars plug in charge ability and 16 miles of pure EV range per charge. Audi's done a great job of taking out electric car sounds. A lot of electric cars make nasty electric Noises. This one has them almost completely gone. The next thing I notice, though, is depending on the mode your in the car has kind of a CBT feel, which isn't a great thing. If you're use to the nice, positive bite of a typical Audi automatic or other transmission, manual gear box. You don't really find that here. I believe it has to do with some of the juggling of the different power modes. From combustion to electric to the other combination of them, to the freewheeling it also does to conserve energy. It makes it a little spooly sometimes. That said, it's one of the nicer electric cars you're gonna drive. Now, it feels its weight, I gotta say. It's not that light, bright Possible little AUDI you might think it is. It's got a certain mass to it. It's got a certain tubbiness when it bottoms into a divet, into a turn. When it comes around, it really stresses the side wall of the tires as it goes around a sharp radius corner. There's battery weight here, and there's no way around that. You do feel quite a bit of difference between the modes, but, again, I would kind of find the one that I like. I like, and hopefully not have to worry about the car's battery charge profile beyond that. [In sum, the best headline around this car, and one I think Audi was shooting for, is it's the Audi of electrified cars. Which is to say, it's got the Audi looks, proportions, beautiful cabin, great technology and interface. And most, but not all, of the Audi driving that people love about these cars. Okay, an A3 Sportback e-tron, is going to set you back a little under thirty-nine with destination and that's with a base trim level. Now from that you can knock off about forty two hundred Federal tax credit, here in California about another fifteen hundred tax credit as of today's shoot. But you've got to go all the way to the Prestige trim to get things like navigation, Bang and Olufsen audio, and the more advanced Fully optioned, by the way, the A3 e-tron can give you active lane keeping at 30 hours per mile and above. And also partial automatic emergency braking, and blind spot warning. Not a driver assist powerhouse, but not bad. In all, I love driving a lot of Audis. I would say I love driving this one the least. But any electrified car today for the most part is a basic calculus of how much do you love it on the right brain and how much of a good value does it pencil out to be long-term in your left brain. [MUSIC] More cars driven CNET style standing by now at CNETOnCars.com. Click on the road [MUSIC]