2016 Audi A3 e-tron

A snazzy plug-in hybrid-electric sportback with an EV mode.

  • Likes
  • Ease of driving
  • utility
  • Dislikes
  • MPG(e) could be better

The first plug-in hybrid in the US from the German marque, the 2016 Audi A3 e-tron offers the same refinement and design touches that make the gas-engine A3 one of the best cars in its class. Although on the pricey side, this hatchback will get you around town (and beyond) with a smile.

More luxurious than a Toyota Prius or VW Golf, the A3 e-tron features a handsome interior with well-designed switchgear, plenty of real metal trim and a nifty pop-up infotainment screen. Unlike the regular A3 1.8T or 2.0T, the A3 e-tron has no tachometer or shift paddles for the 6-speed dual clutch transmission. Instead, there’s a “power usage” gauge that indicates whether the engine is charging the battery or the electric motor is boosting the total output.

Unlike the similarly priced BMW i3, the Audi A3 e-tron is not considered an EV. Its drivetrain is much more like an upgraded version of the VW Jetta hybrid’s setup. The 2016 A3 e-tron is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-4 and an electric motor drawing juice from an 8.8 kWh battery, for a total output of 204 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of torque. Despite the weight of the front-wheel-drive only A3 e-tron, performance is sprightly for a plug-in hybrid.

The A3 e-tron can go from 0-60 in about 7.4 seconds and reach a top speed of more than 130 mph. Tested range on electric power alone is up to about 50 miles if driven lightly. Higher speeds or quicker acceleration will make the gas engine take over closer to the rated 31 miles. Once the gas engine is on, the fuel economy is around 34 mpg, similar to a non plug-in hybrid, but when we took our misano red 2016 Audi A3 e-tron out for a spin, it tested closer to 24 mpg. The upside? The A3 e-tron doesn’t have to deal with the range limitations of most pure EVs.

Therefore, if you have a short-ish, traffic-heavy commute to work every day but also like weekend road trips that may be out of an EV’s battery range, a plug-in like the A3 Sportback e-tron could be a great choice. Plus, the hatchback shape is more practical, and arguably better looking, than the A3 Sedan’s 3-box look.

Warranty/Service: 4-year/50,000-mile new vehicle limited warranty, 12-month/5,000-mile no-charge maintenance

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Specs

Base Price: $37,900

As Tested: $37,900

  • 86 / 87 mpg
  • EPA
  • 7.6 sec
  • 0-60
  • 204 hp
  • Horsepower
  • 130 mph
  • Top Speed
  • Engine: 1.4-liter turbo direct injection, 4-valve cylinder DOHC
  • Horsepower: 204 hp
  • Torque: 258 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Six-speed Audi S tronic dual-clutch transmission with front-wheel-drive
  • Curb Weight: 3,616 lbs
  • Wheelbase: 103.5 in
  • Length: 169.8 in
  • Width: 77.4 in
  • Height: 56.1 in
  • Turning circle: 35.8 ft
  • Brakes: Ventilated and solid disc front and rear brakes
  • Suspension: MacPherson strut front suspension and four link rear suspension
  • Traction: Electronic Stability Control with brake assist and traction control
  • 0-60 mph: 7.6 sec
  • Top Speed: 130 mph
  • EPA City: 86 mpg
  • EPA Highway: 87 mpg
  • Combined MPG: 86 mpg
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Safety: Anti-lock brake system and Electronic Brake Force Distribution, driver and front passenger airbags, sideguard head curtain airbags and anti-theft alarm system

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