2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

2016 audi a3 sportback e-tron – DOC639139

The news that Audi has built a plug-in hybrid for the mass market might seem unimpressive to most people, as plug-in hybrid five-door hatchbacks aren’t exactly a revolutionary new product. Racing fans might see it differently though, as hybrid technology has been incorporated into all of the most competitive of Le Mans racers, with Audi being an early adopter. These people might think that genuine race-winning performance hybrid technology has finally reached a segment of the market where it’s practical for ordinary people to own. Those people would be wrong though, it’s just a regular plug-in hatchback, albeit a pretty good one.

What with Audi being a luxury brand, it shouldn’t make sense to compare the upcoming A3 Sportback e-Tron to cars from Chevrolet or Toyota, but no other luxury automaker has anything quite like this. Mercedes makes a similar pure electric, and a couple of much more expensive plug-in hybrids, and of course there are a number of conventional hybrids, but the A3 e-Tron is special in being the only luxury vehicle in its segment. Audi also firmly stresses the performance capabilities of the car, which are admirable for a plug-in in this price range, but not exactly great on their own merits.


Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

The e-Tron looks like a normal 2013 Audi A3, aggressively normal, even. There are sometimes indicators that a hybrid made out of an existing model is different. Different wheels or a visible charging port are pretty good indicators, but Audi has shunned all of this. Badging will still give it away, but the e-Tron’s charging port is actually hidden in the front grille, behind the four-ring logo.

This whole section of the grille slides out of the way to expose the port for charging. It seems unnecessary and possibly even gimmicky, but it is at least a good location for easy charging access in a small garage. One also could never accuse Audi of trying to cash in on trendiness of conspicuous conservation with electrified vehicles in certain circles. This is therefore an A3 that looks like an A3, a five-door hatchback that won’t turns heads but is certainly an attractive vehicle.


Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

The only indicator on the inside of the A3 Sportback e-Tron that it is a plug-in vehicle come in the form of a slightly different instrument cluster, which gives battery charging information instead of a tachometer, and the option to display further information on the vehicle’s MMI screen. The addition of battery packs has taken up a bit of the cargo area in the back, but it’s not as bad as in some other hybrids.

This is because Audi has made the fuel tank smaller as a means of avoiding encroaching on the cargo area any more. Still, you will notice the difference, it means 13.6 cubic feet of cargo area compared to 19.5 in the standard Sportback. The car has the usual interior refinements, and Audi will let you option it up quite a lot. Audi makes a good interior, but it’s no better than the interior on the less-expensive conventional version of the car.


Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

This is not a car that was built to be selected purely from the spec sheet, but there is no way to talk about plug-in hybrids without diving into those numbers. First off is the pure electric range, which is respectable without setting any new records.

The 31-mile range falls short of the Chevy Volt’s 50, but it is well ahead of the 11 from the Prius plug-in or the 21 from the Ford Fusion plug-in.

The 31-mile range falls short of the 2016 Chevy Volt’s 53, but it is well ahead of the 11 from the 2014 Toyota Prius plug-in or the 21 from the 2014 Ford Fusion plug-in. Once the battery has run down, the car will get about 34 mpg from the 1.4-liter TFSI engine, which is pretty much what you’d get from a regular 1.4 A3 once you added the 750 pounds of extra weight that the hybrid system brings with it. It’s a good car for use in the daily commute, but those wishing to save fuel while driving longer distances would do much better with a diesel A3.

The 2015 Audi A3 TDI Sedan does need to be discussed, since it is the other fuel-efficient version of the A3. The e-Tron is slightly quicker than the diesel, but only very slightly; 0-60 takes 7.5 seconds, and the quarter-mile comes in 15.8 seconds, both numbers being just a couple of tenths faster than the diesel.

The diesel is going to handle a lot better though, simply because it isn’t hauling around all of that extra weight. The diesel also sips fuel, with the e-Tron offering an advantage only during city driving with a charged battery.

The diesel is also cheaper, but we’ll get into that later. For those wanting performance without having to option up to an S3 or RS3, the 2.0T will hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, more than two seconds faster than the plug-in, and is cheaper as well.

Drivetrain Specifications


Base price for the e-Tron is $37,900, which is a lot for an A3 Sportback but not really that much for a plug-in hybrid. That’s only a couple grand more than the Volt, and while it’s a full $8,000 more than the Prius plug-in, spend 15 seconds sitting in a base Prius and it will be very obvious that you’re saving money. Since the A3 starts at around $30,000, the hybridization does not come cheap, especially once you start optioning up, although tax credits can be worth about $4,000 off of that price, making it less painful.

Options can add an absurd amount to the sticker price, but this is not at all unusual for a German luxury car, and the fully loaded price of $46,800, once adjusted for available credits, comes in at about the same as a base S3. The previously mentioned A3 TDI starts at $31,825, which isn’t a lot cheaper than a price-adjusted base e-Tron.


2014 Chevy Volt

Chevrolet Volt

The e-Tron’s best competition is obviously the TDI, but we’ll stick to electrified vehicles here. The Volt offers a superior pure electric range and better fuel economy once the battery is depleted. You can even option it up to a pretty nice interior, not quite top-level Audi nice, but also not as expensive. The downside comes from the fact that it’s nowhere near as good on the performance side. It takes 9.1 seconds to hit 60 mph, thanks to a sad 84 horsepower. Simply put, the Audi offers a better balance of economy and driving enjoyment, but the Volt is the best pick for those who obsess over every last drop of fuel.

2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

Plug-hybrids are getting a lot of attention these days in Europe because several European cities are considering banning the use of internal combustion engine in city centers. Should this happen, it might be better to just buy a pure electric. The B-Class Electric Drive has a range of 100 miles and is the nearest pure electric equivalent to the e-Tron. The base price is slightly more than that of the Audi, but it would be well worth spending the extra if you had to do a lot of driving in a city where you couldn’t use your internal combustion engine.


Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

The A3 Sportback e-Tron definitely requires some compromises on the part of the buyer. For those willing to accept these compromises, there are a few advantages, although these are for such specific circumstances that it’s difficult to imagine there being much of a market for it. Driven very carefully and for relatively short distances, it can deliver some good fuel economy numbers, just not quite as good as those of some of its competitors. It’s better for performance than those competitors, but driving it hard means unimpressive economy numbers, while still delivering worse performance than a cheaper base A3. For those who want an inconspicuous plug-in, or are too label-conscious to buy a Volt, the e-Tron is a solid choice, although that must be a very niche market.


  • better pure electric range than most plug-in hybrids
  • a plug-in that has actual power and can drive somewhat quickly
  • starting price is surprisingly reasonable


  • difficult to justify its existence when a diesel version exists
  • offers performance and fuel economy, just not at the same time
  • the e-Tron in the name makes much bigger promises than the car delivers

Press Release

Audi announced U.S. prices for the all-new 2016 A3 Sportback e-tron® will begin at $37,900, and purchasing customers may qualify for applicable state and federal incentives and tax credits. As the first electrified Audi sold in the U.S., the plug-in hybrid electric A3 Sportback e-tron combines efficiency, innovative technology and performance for a premium driving experience.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

The A3 Sportback e-tron provides a comprehensive approach to sustainable mobility by combining the benefits of a hybrid with all-electric range. It is a package that makes the A3 Sportback e-tron a versatile choice for the full array of daily commuting challenges, some of which can be handled on battery power alone.

The plug-in hybrid will launch at dealerships nationwide in October. EPA figures will be announced in the near future once they are available from U.S. regulators.

The first Audi plug-in hybrid, or PHEV, to hit the market will be priced from $37,900 for a Premium package to $46,800 for a Prestige package. The vehicle will offer even greater value when, as expected, it qualifies for a federal tax credit of $4,168 . Buyers in some states may qualify for additional incentives. Tax credits and incentives are subject to availability, and customers should consult their tax professionals and IRS.gov for more information about tax credits and incentives.

Plug-in hybrid system

The 2016 A3 Sportback e-tron features a 1.4 liter TFSI® engine with a six-speed S tronic® transmission. Combined with a liquid-cooled, permanent magnet-driven electric motor, the A3 e-tron produces 204 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque for impressive off-the-line acceleration and high-end power. An 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides electrical energy storage and is packaged beneath the rear seat, allowing for a fully-usable trunk.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Charging and connectivity

The charging connection for the A3 Sportback e-tron is located behind the four rings in the Singleframe® grille. This placement in the front of the vehicle is convenient for charging from a power source on either side of the vehicle and the port is hidden when not in use.

240-volt charging quickly replenishes the battery in about 2 hours and 15 minutes

Vehicle comes standard with 240 volt mobile electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) which can also be used in a common 120-volt outlet

Recharging through a 120-volt outlet takes approximately 8 hours

Home installation of a 240-volt outlet and home charging station are optional

Available smartphone app allows the driver to remotely check on the status of their A3 e-tron. It can be used to check battery status and for “charge planning” – setting times for charging to automatically begin

The driver can also use the app to adjust climate control remotely for added comfort and energy savings

Unique drive modes

The A3 Sportback e-tron also delivers a four driving choices for motorists, including full battery propulsion and battery recharge mode:

In EV mode, the vehicle is powered only by the electric motor for a smooth and quiet ride featuring quick acceleration

Hybrid mode allows the car to intelligently select the most efficient power source – either EV, Hybrid or gasoline

Hold Battery mode allows hybrid driving while preserving EV range for later use

Charge Battery mode uses the gasoline engine to recharge the battery while driving at highway speed

The electric engine can also supplement the gas engine to provide an extra boost of power when desired.

Audi energy offering

To ensure driving an A3 Sportback e-tron is convenient and sustainable, Audi is providing the Audi energy portfolio of products with each vehicle sold. Audi energy includes:

A standard Audi-designed mobile charging system that works with standard U.S. household outlets or 240-volt service

The option for professional 240-volt plug installation through Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, which can lower home charging times to around 2.25 hours

Optional solar power installation with rebates through SunPower

Audi contributions to environmental conservation programs through 3Degrees to help offset the carbon footprint of every A3 Sportback e-tron sold

Other standard features

The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron comes equipped with a wide variety of standard equipment, including.

Xenon plus high-intensity discharge (HID) headlights

LED taillights with rear fog lights

LED interior lighting package

Power central locking system with radio-operated key fob remote control for doors, tailgate and fuel door with selective unlocking

Automatic dual-zone climate control

Three-spoke multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel

Audi advanced key – keyless start, stop and entry

Audi drive select

Rear view camera, with front and rear parking sensors

Audi pre sense® basic

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Design and Body

The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron boasts a variety of design features that speak to its sporty and efficient character.

e-tron specific Singleframe grille, S line front/rear fasciae and side sills, rear bumper with hidden exhaust outlet

Available full LED headlights

Available aluminum roof rails

Panoramic sunroof with retractable sunshade and pinch protection

16’’ wheels standard (17” and 18” wheels available)


The interior of the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron comfortably seats 5 passengers. The lithium-ion battery is hidden beneath the rear seat for even more room and luggage capacity in the trunk. Both the driver and passenger have access to a variety of standard and available technology features.

Cargo area offers 13.6 cu ft. of luggage capacity

MMI® wheel with optional MMI touch

Ultra-thin 7’’ MMI screen with available 7” display

Circular air vents

Available 3D optic inlays

e-tron specific shift knob, badging on the dash, instrument cluster and door sills

EPA fuel economy estimates are not available as of this release. See fueleconomy.gov. Actual mileage will vary and depend on several factors including driving and charging habits, weather and temperature, battery age, and vehicle condition. Battery capacity decreases with time and use.


The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron raises the bar as to what is expected out of electrified vehicles.

Sirius XM® Satellite Radio

Available MMI navigation plus system features 4G LTE based technology, MMI touch, two SD card slots for MP3 files

The MMI operating system has an electronically extending screen, its terminal housed in the console of the center dashboard. Available touch pad is incorporated into the rotary MMI control wheel, which offers intuitive and simple operation

NVIDIA graphics processing unit (GPU) generates complex three-dimensional images used in all online, voice control, media navigation and telephone functions

A 705 watt 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen Sound System is optional on the A3 Sportback e-tron.

Audi connect

The modular infotainment platform in the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron enhances the experience for Audi drivers and their passengers by providing the benefits of access to information and content, when needed, through interfaces designed for the in-vehicle environment.

Available Audi connect®, including read aloud Twitter® alerts, access to more than 7,000 Internet broadcast stations, RSS news feeds and more

MMI navigation plus uses 4G LTE to deliver the tailored services of Audi connect to the driver – from navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Driver Assistance

The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron offers several advanced technology features, including:

Standard Audi pre sense basic system which helps detect when an emergency maneuver is being made and prepares the vehicle and its occupant restraint systems in advance of a possible collision

Available Audi side assist, including lane change assistant, operating at speeds above 19mph and providing visual warnings located in exterior mirror housings

Standard electronic cruise control with coast, resume and accelerate features

Available Audi adaptive cruise control with stop & go

Available Audi active lane assist: when the system detects that the driver is leaving the lane without signaling, the car, through gentle corrective steering efforts, will assist the driver to remain in the lane

Audi pre sense front: includes brake assist or partial braking when the risk of a collision is detected

Chassis and Suspension

The A3 Sportback e-tron platform provides well-balanced proportions, supplemented by optimized interior space utilization and an improved structure.

Front suspension is a MacPherson strut design with A-arms and aluminum pivot bearings. It is joined to an aluminum subframe

The electromechanically assisted steering system operates sensitively and efficiently together with various assistance systems, while reducing mechanical drag for greater efficiency

In the four-link rear suspension, which utilizes a steel cross member, the springs and shock absorbers are mounted separately

The electronic stability control (ESC) also includes an electronic differential lock and secondary collision brake assist.

When driving through curves, it can brake the inside front wheel very slightly to help minimize understeer and improve traction

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