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2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader June 2016

The 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid is the latest addition to the A3 premium-compact range. This generation of A3 usually takes sedan form (there's also a convertible), but this particular model revives the hatchback body style, hence the Sportback name. All these ingredients add up to a car that's practical yet handsome, refined, well equipped and capable of excellent fuel economy.

What's New for 2016?

This model is new for 2016.

What We Like

Practical hatchback body; high-class interior; high-tech fuel economy

What We Don't

Premium pricing; no USB port

How Much?

$38,825-$47,725. There are various state and federal credits for buying a car that runs on alternative fuel.

Fuel Economy

A turbocharged 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine joins an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack to provide a total system output of 204 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed automated manual transmission sends this energy to the front wheels.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the 16-inch wheels (which Audi will fit to any trim level) achieve the best fuel economy. This works out to an average of 86 miles per gallon equivalent (mpge), including 17 miles driven purely in electric vehicle (EV) mode. Versions with larger wheels are rated at 83 mpge, and the EV range is shorter by 1 mile. Without EV mode in the equation, the EPA puts consumption at 33 miles per gallon in the city, 37 mpg on the highway and 35 mpg combined.

Charging the battery from a 240-volt source takes 2.5 hours. Using a 115-volt socket requires 8 hours.

Standard Features & Options

The 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron comes in Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels.

The Premium ($38,825) comes with 16-in alloy wheels, automatic xenon headlights with LED running lights and taillights, rain-sensing wipers, a sunroof, keyless entry and ignition, 8-way power adjustable front seats, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, drive-mode selection, heated side mirrors, front and rear parking sensors, LED cabin lighting, a 5.3-in touchscreen, a rearview camera, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker audio system with an SD-card reader, HD Radio and satellite radio.

The Premium Plus ($42,925) brings 17-in alloys, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, adaptive LED headlights and iPod connectivity.

The Prestige ($47,725) has advanced safety features (see the Safety section below), along with auto-dimming and power-folding side mirrors, an upgraded infotainment system with a 7-in screen and handwriting recognition, 4G LTE Wi-Fi, navigation and a Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker 705-watt audio system.

The higher-grade infotainment system may be ordered as an extra in the Premium model. The Premium Plus and Prestige trims are eligible for a Sport package that includes 18-in alloys, a sport steering wheel and sport seats.

Cargo space is 13.6 cu ft. The battery pack is located under the rear seats, so it doesn't affect the luggage area.

Safety

As well as all the mandatory equipment, such as anti-lock brakes and traction and stability control, the A3 Sportback e-tron has front-knee and full-length side-curtain airbags.

The Prestige trim enjoys adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane-departure prevention and a blind spot monitoring system.

Behind the Wheel

The electric motor's virtually instant torque contributes to the impressive acceleration. The cabin is so quiet that there's virtually no engine noise and hardly any transmission whine.

Top speed in EV mode is 80 miles per hour. The car has a glide mode for downhill stretches. In a conventional car, lifting off the throttle would initiate engine braking, but glide mode keeps up the momentum. The driver may also select Hold Battery mode to save the battery power for when it's absolutely needed.

The A3 Sportback e-tron has a high-quality interior well up to Audi's usual lofty standards. The ride is similarly sophisticated. This is an all-new plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, but it's already one of the must-drive candidates.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 Chevrolet Volt -- It's not at the same premium level as the Audi, but this plug-in hybrid has been revamped for 2016. EV range is an impressive 53 miles.

2016 Lexus CT 200h -- Essentially a higher-end version of a Prius, the CT 200h is a premium compact hatchback, minus the plug-in hardware.

2016 BMW i3 -- When bought with the range-extending engine, this electric car moves more into the area of a plug-in hybrid. It's an interesting vehicle with innovative construction.

Autotrader's Advice

All-electric vehicles make good second cars, but a plug-in hybrid like the A3 Sportback e-tron can provide exceptional fuel economy while still having an internal combustion engine to rely on. Which trim to buy depends on your budget.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron: New Car Review - Autotrader