Audi prices A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid from $38,825

WASHINGTON — The price for Audi’s first plug-in hybrid, the A3 e-tron, will start at $38,825 including shipping when it arrives at U.S. dealerships in October, Audi of America said Wednesday.

The A3 e-tron is the first in a coming wave of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles from Audi to wear the e-tron badge, with the next-generation Q7 midsize crossover and A8 large sedan expected to be among the next to arrive.

Pricing on the A3 e-tron also undercuts the 2015 BMW i3 plug-in hybrid’s $43,350 sticker price by more than $4,500. A3 e-tron buyers qualify for a $4,168 federal tax credit, Audi said.

Powering the A3 e-tron is a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine paired to a 75 kilowatt electric motor that draws juice from an 8.8 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery. The system has total output of 204 hp and 258 lbs.-ft. of torque.

Power is routed to the front wheels through a six-speed dual clutch transmission; Audi’s Quattro all-wheel-drive isn’t available. The company opted to go front-wheel-drive to save weight and maximize the available electric-only driving range, a spokesman said.

While the A3 lineup is made up mostly of sedans, the e-tron comes to U.S. showrooms as a five-door hatchback. The battery pack is packaged beneath the rear seats, meaning trunk space is undisturbed.

Electric-only range and fuel economy data weren’t released. Audi is awaiting final certification results from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the company plans to release those figures when they’re available.

The European-market A3 e-tron gets 31 miles of electric-only driving range, but the U.S.-market A3 e-tron’s EV range will likely vary because of the different testing cycles used by U.S. and E.U. regulators.

Drivers can select from four different drive modes — a hybrid mode that uses the most-efficient combination of the car’s electric and gas motor depending on the driving condition; an electric-only mode; a “hold battery” mode that drives as a hybrid but preserves the battery for later use, and battery charge mode, which uses the gas engine as a generator to charge the battery when driving at highway speeds.

The A3 e-tron’s battery pack can be recharged with a standard 120-volt household plug in about 8 hours or in a little more than 2 hours from a 240-volt home charging station made by Bosch Automotive Service Solutions that customers can buy as an extra.

An available smartphone app allows customers to check their vehicle’s charge status, program when the car will charge — like in the evening when energy is usually cheapest — and other functions.

Upgrading to the A3 e-tron in Premium Plus trim bumps the price to $42,925, including shipping, before topping out at $47,725 for the Prestige trim package.

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