More than a year after German automaker Audi launched its A3 sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid in its home market of Germany, the five-seat sporty plug-in hybrid has been given official pricing for the U.S.
Announced yesterday by Audi North America, the headline entry-level price of $38,825 includes a mandatory $925 destination and handling fee, but does not take into account any Federal or state incentives.
Included as standard in the entry-level trim — called ‘premium’ by Audi — is a dual-zone automatic climate control, three-spoke multifunction steering wheel, panoramic sunroof, ambient LED interior lighting, and full leather seats. So too is a full HD Radio ten-speaker audio system with bluetooth connectivity, XM radio, and SD card slot, as well as keyless ignition, automated headlights and wipers, assisted parking with rear-view camera, and Audi’s pre-sense autonomous braking technology.
Meanwhile, the mid-range ‘Premium Plus’ model, available for $42,925, adds a more advanced audio system, heated front seats, and electronically-adjustable seats, while the range-topping ‘Prestige’ model — which starts at $47,725 — adds various Audi assistance technologies including adaptive cruise control and lane assist, as well as full satellite navigation system with voice control.
Tick all the option boxes, and it’s possible to spend over $50,000 on the high-end A3 sportback e-tron.
Like its European cousin, the U.S. market A3 sportback e-tron is powered by the same 1.4-litre TFSI four-cylinder gasoline engine and six-speed dual clutch transmission as the Volkswagen Golf GTE. Hiding inside the gearbox bell housing, there’s also the same 75 kilowatt pancake electric motor found in the Golf GTE, while the same 8.8 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery provides enough power to operate the A3 sportback e-tron in all-electric range for between 20 and 25 miles of real world range.
(We should note here that the figure quoted above is our own estimated figure based on our first-hand experience with the Volkswagen GTE — which shares the same drivetrain and chassis as the Audi A3 sportback e-tron. Officially, the EPA has yet to award the A3 sportback e-tron its official ratings — but based on our experience, we’d guess a figure of between 20 and 25 miles is about right.)
In electric-only mode, top speed is limited to 80 mph, although those opting to use ‘Sport’ mode to access all 204 horsepower and 258 pound feet of torque from the combined drivetrains will find an electronically-limited 138 mph is possible where legal.
And this brings us to an important point. Unlike the Chevrolet Volt or BMW i3 REx, which are essentially electric vehicles with built-in range-extenders on board, the A3 sportback e-tron is a plug-in hybrid, capable of operating quite happily with either fuel source.
That’s because while the Audi A3 e-tron does start in electric-only mode, it’s quite happy to operate in gasoline only mode for extended periods of time. Indeed, its slow on-board 3.3 kilowatt charger means that anyone driving more than about 25 miles on a round trip may find it more practical to simply rely on gasoline until their trip is completed than it would be to stop and charge every 25 miles.
With a full charge taking around 2 hours and 15 minutes from a compatible type 2 charging station however, those making a long lunch stop may find it sensible to find a nearby charge point when possible.
Unlike some other plug-in models from rival automakers, Audi says the A3 sportback e-tron will go on sale nationwide in the U.S. with cars available at dealerships from October this year. In addition to being offered a choice of different charging stations through Bosch Automotive Service Solutions, Audi will also offer to help coordinate solar panel installations for customers wishing to power their Audi A3 sportback e-tron from the cleanest source of power possible.
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