2017 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron
Starting at $39,850
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- Highs Fun to drive, quality interior, efficient plug-in hybrid powertrain.
- Lows Underwhelming all-electric range, tight rear seat, more expensive than some rivals.
- Verdict For the right buyer, the e-tron's efficiency, prestige, upscale cabin, and good road manners might justify its steep price.
Audi began importing its A3 e-tron plug-in electric vehicle (PHEV) for the 2016 model year, one year after its second-generation A3 compact sedan went on sale here. While the conventional gas-powered A3 comes in four-door sedan form only, the A3 e-tron has a more Euro-centric four-door hatchback body. But like the sedan, the e-tron hatchback shares its front-wheel-drive platform with Volkswagen’s Golf and GTI. While other A3s are available with Audi’s signature Quattro all-wheel drive, the e-tron comes with front-wheel drive only.
What's New for 2017?
For 2017, the entire A3 line got a minor facelift, with slimmer headlamps, a new front fascia, and the latest version of Audi’s single-frame grille. A new virtual cockpit with a 12.3-inch screen and e-tron-specific displays and readouts replaces the standard instrument cluster, and the optional MMI Touch interface has received updates.
- Premium: $39,850
- Premium Plus: $42,950
- Prestige: $48,500
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The A3 e-tron combines a 150-hp 1.4-liter turbocharged inline-four with an 8.8-kWh lithium-ion battery pack, for a combined 204 horsepower transmitted to the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. The car can go just 17 miles on electric power only, according to the EPA, though Car and Driver coaxed out 20 miles of range. Top speed in electric-only mode is 81 mph. We recorded a respectable 0-60 mph time of 6.5 seconds using the gas engine and electric motor combined, and 11.2 seconds using electric only. The battery pack fully charges from empty in 2.5 hours using a 240-volt charger. On public roads, we found the A3 e-tron to be quick, predictable, and solid, with drama-free highway passing power. There are four dynamic modes: Default, EV (electric power only), Hold Battery, for urban EV driving, and Charge Battery, which uses the gas engine to recharge the battery at highway speeds.
EPA fuel-economy testing and reporting procedures have changed over time. For the latest numbers on current and older vehicles, visit the EPA’s website and select Find & Compare Cars.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
We would rate the A3 e-tron as a semi-premium PHEV, with Audi’s usual level of high-quality interior fit, finish, and materials—priced higher than a Chevrolet Volt or Ford C-Max Energi, but more affordable than a Mercedes-Benz C350e or BMW 330e. Leather seating surfaces are standard, and even the base Premium trim level comes with LED interior lighting, Audi Advanced Key, rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, and Xenon HID headlamps. The battery pack is tucked under the rear seat to preserve rear-passenger space, although it's still a bit tight, and the e-tron's 13.6 cubic-feet of cargo capacity behind the second-row can be expanded to 33.7 cubic feet with the seatback folded.
Infotainment and Connectivity
In addition to the updated, 12.3-inch configurable and retractable touchscreen and MMI infotainment system, standard features include Bluetooth, a USB port, and a 10-speaker stereo. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are optional on Premium but standard on Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels. Higher trims also come with such items as navigation, Wi-Fi, and a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system.
Safety Features and Crash Test Ratings
For more information about the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron’s crash-test results, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) websites.
Some older vehicles are still eligible for coverage under a manufacturer's Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) program. For more information visit our guide to every manufacturer's CPO program.