Audi is launching into its electrified future with the 2016 A3 Sportback e-tron, a plug-in hybrid version of its popular A3 wagon, and has set the buy-in price at $37,900 in the U.S. (expect Canadian price to be in the $44,000 range, when it’s announced).
The car will be available in the U.S. in October and is expected in Canada probably around the same time. The buy-in will come down significantly, depending on provincial incentives.
The A3 Sportback e-tron is Audi’s first electrified vehicle, and reportedly provides the driving experience expected from Audi, while returning enhanced fuel economy from the current diesel version. Fuel economy ratings are yet to be finalized
Power (150 hp) is supplied by a turbocharged 1.4-litre direct injected gasoline four cylinder engine to the front wheels via a sequential shift six-speed transmission. An 8.8 kWh lithium ion battery powers a 76 kW (105 hp) electric motor, for combined power outputs of 204 hp and 258 lb.ft. of torque. The battery is mounted under the rear seat to keep the A3 Sportback’s cargo volume intact.
The charging port is located behind the Audi rings in the grille, allowing the batteries to be charged in eight hours from a standard 120 volt home outlet, or in two hours and 15 minutes using a 240 volt connection (like that used by your stove or clothes dryer). As is common practice for electric vehicles these days, there is a home fast-charging unit available as an option, while an available Smartphone app allows owners to remotely keep track of charging (as well as adjust accessories such as climate control).
Also in keeping with the EV intent, the A3 Sportback e-tron can be used in various modes – EV (which uses only electricity to power the car), Hybrid (in which a computer determines the best power source – electricity, gasoline or a combination), Hold Battery (where the engine powers the car to preserve EV range) and Charge Battery (whereby at highway speeds the engine not only powers the car but also trickle charges the battery). The ignition is a push-button set-up with engine stop/start feature.
Outside of the new powertrain and badging, the A3 features traditional standard features such as HID headlights, LED taillights, automatic dual-zone climate control, rearview camera, panoramic sunroof and the Audi pre-sense system (which prepares the car and its occupant restraint system for an impending collision), among others.
Notable options include full LED headlights, roof rails, 17- or 18-inch wheels, a multimedia system with touch-pad controller, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system.