2018 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

2018 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron Review

The 2018 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is practical and efficient, but it has a steep price premium.
author
by Will Kaufman
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The regular A3 sedan is very likable car thanks to its upscale interior, some excellent technology features and an engaging driving experience. But there's only one way to get a hatchback Audi A3 in the United States, and that's to opt for the plug-in hybrid e-tron. This version of the A3 gets you more cargo space, higher fuel economy and 16 miles of all-electric driving.

With Audi's diesel engines discontinued in the United States for the foreseeable future, the automaker's competitiveness in the fuel-efficient car field comes down to this plug-in hybrid. Notably, the A3 Sportback e-tron is the only luxury car of its size and configuration offered as a hybrid. It's not until you look at the more expensive BMW 330e that you'll find a plug-in hybrid powertrain in a luxury car.

The A3 e-tron's all-electric range of 16 miles is decent, and once you're running on gas it offers about the same estimated combined mileage as the last A3 diesel. But it also weighs about 400 pounds more than a regular A3 and costs thousands of dollars more. Government incentives and state tax credits can help offset the cost for new car buyers, though.

Overall, the A3 e-tron effectively fills its niche. But along with the 330e, we also think shoppers should look at similarly capable non-luxury plug-ins such as the Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max Energi, Toyota Prius Prime or even the all-electric BMW i3 with its optional range-extending gas generator option.



What's new for 2018

For 2018, the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron receives only minor changes to trim-level features and options package content.

We recommend

While the base trim still gets you a nicely appointed car, we think Premium Plus with the Technology package (not available on Premium trim) is the sweet spot. That gets you smartphone integration, navigation, a touchpad controller and the excellent Virtual Cockpit, all of which greatly improve the tech interface and make this high-tech hatchback feel properly modern.




Trim levels & features

The base 2018 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron Premium is a well-appointed luxury compact, but it lacks the option for a lot of desirable technology upgrades. The Premium Plus offers more options, but only the top-of-the-line Prestige has all the technology and active safety features many luxury buyers expect.

All versions of the A3 e-tron are powered by a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine paired with an electric motor. Total system output is 204 horsepower, and it's sent to the front wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission.

Standard equipment on the Premium trim includes 17-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated power front seats, leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, keyless ignition and entry, Bluetooth connectivity, a rearview camera and a 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite radio and a USB interface. A forward collision warning system with automatic emergency braking is also included.

The only options package available for the Premium trim is the Sport package, which adds a flat-bottom steering wheel with paddle shifters, front sport seats, a roof spoiler and 18-inch wheels. This package can be added to any A3 Sportback e-tron trim.

Moving up to the Premium Plus gets you some upgraded interior trim as well as LED headlights, front and rear parking sensors, an auto-dimming mirror, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. You also get access to the Technology package, an optional extra that includes a 7-inch central display screen, navigation, a touchpad controller, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration, Audi's Virtual Cockpit gauge cluster display, a premium Bang & Olufsen sound system and Audi Connect (a 4G LTE connection that integrates Google voice search and traffic information into the nav system and offers a Wi-Fi hotspot and a host of connected app services).

The Prestige trim includes the Technology package and also adds lane departure warning and intervention, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, two rear-seat USB ports, power-folding side mirrors with auto-dimming and heating. Unfortunately, opting for the Prestige trim is the only way to equip your A3 Sportback e-tron with a full suite of active safety features and driver aids.



Trim tested

Edmunds has not yet driven any version of this vehicle. The following is our first take on what's significant about it and what you can expect.

Driving

The Sportback e-tron outperforms EVs such as the BMW i3, and its impressively quick for a plug-in hybrid as well. Expect a zero-to-60-mph time right around 7 seconds. The e-tron's heavier weight dulls responsiveness around turns compared to the regular A3, though.

Comfort

The A3 offers the kind of comfort we expect from larger luxury sedans, with roomy, accommodating front seats. The cabin is relatively quiet, with wind and road noise kept at unintrusive levels.

Interior

The A3 offers good all-around visibility, and the controls are well placed and easy to use. Front-seat access is easy, but getting into the rear seat requires a bit of work, and even average-size adults will feel cramped.

Utility

The hatchback body certainly offers more cargo capacity than the sedan, and space is on par with that of other hatchback hybrid vehicles. With the rear seats folded down, the hatchback offers decent storage space for a small car. Small-item storage is a little sparse.

Technology

We like Audi's current suite of driver safety and infotainment technologies, which have a robust set of features and excellent graphics. We've been happy enough using Audi's system, especially with Virtual Cockpit integration. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are a bonus instead of a necessity.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.