The 2015 Audi A3 E-tron plug-in hybrid can take you around town on electricity alone or cover 550 miles when adding its gasoline engine. Hatchback versatility and sporty handling should make the E-tron an attractive choice for urban city dwellers with active, gear-heavy lifestyles.
Alert handling; useful electric-only range and impressive total range; versatile cargo capacity.
Stock tires coupled with quiet electric operation allow more road noise into the cabin.
The 2015 Audi A3 E-tron is an all-new plug-in hybrid model.
Audi hasn't shied from dancing with electricity. The automaker showed an updated Sport Quattro Concept, a sharp coupe powered by a 148-horsepower electric motor and a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8, at this year's Frankfurt auto show. Audi says it will make production within three years. You won't have to wait as long for the 2015 Audi A3 E-tron, though; the sporty plug-in hybrid hatch is due next year.
The E-tron uses a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 150 hp and 184 pound-feet of torque on its own. Adding a 75kW electric motor bumps total output to 204 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, power that reaches the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. Audi says the A3 E-tron can cover the 0-62-mph sprint in 7.6 seconds, reach 138 mph and travel 31 miles under electric power.
The 2015 Audi A3 E-tron can go up to 80 mph on electric power alone or until the driver selects the "kickdown" switch that engages the gasoline engine. This should prove a useful and popular feature for short errand hops around town. Audi says the A3 E-tron should offer a range of about 550 miles on a full tank and full charge.
Those are impressive numbers from a sport hatch that also yields about 40 cubic feet of cargo space (per European spec, which differs from American measurements), and can fully recharge in about four hours on a 220-volt outlet. With its battery pack mounted under the rear seat and the gas tank under a slightly raised trunk floor, the A3 E-tron yields 55/45 front/rear weight distribution.
In our quick Audi E-tron test-drive, we found that the plug-in hybrid delivers the best balance and handling of the A3 range. Replacing its stock low-rolling-resistance tires should unlock even greater grip, although likely at the expense of fuel efficiency.
The Audi A3 E-tron is expected to arrive in the U.S. next year alongside the all-new A3 sedan. Check back for more on the 2015 A3 E-tron, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.
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