I’m spending a week with Audi’s revolutionary new hybrid electric car, the uber cool 2016 A3 Sportback e-tron ultra. With four different driving power modes and two engines (both gas and electric) the car offers drivers the latest in electric vehicle technology without losing the pure driving excitement Audi is known for.
I’ll be writing more about the car and also reviewing it for Examiner (I am now the Luxury Autos Examiner there), but I wanted to post some pix and my first impressions. First and foremost, this is an Audi. Great build quality, driving dynamics, infotainment, safety, all the usual assets this great brand is recognized for. But I do think it’s the future, as it allows so many fuel and power options, depending on conditions and your driving style.
The car has a 150 HP gasoline engine and a 105 HP electric motor. You can use them both together or select modes that use just electric power or just gasoline power. The car will go about 16 miles on a full electric charge, in electric (EV) mode. In this mode, the car is so quiet, you turn it on and there is just no sound or vibration, it’s just on and ready to go. The A3 e-tron can be charged with either 110 volt or 220 volt connections, there’s a socket on the front grill, under the Audi logo. You can use charging stations or it comes with an electronic charger, which can be plugged into a standard wall outlet. Charging time at a charging station is a little over two hours, charging on 110 volts takes eight hours. Audi put the batteries under the rear bench seat to preserve the space offered with a hatchback. Sorry, I meant Sportback.
I’ll be driving the car around town and taking it on a few road trips to really see what it’s like to drive and to use the different driving modes. Immediate first impressions are that it’s like the other small Audis I’ve driven. I’ve spent time in the A3, S3, A4 and S4 and this feels like the A3 (in a good way). The Audi driver’s experience and controls (other than the addition of the electric info) are the same. Other than the lack of sound, a driver would probably not even realize this was a hybrid or an electric unless you told them, which I think is the ultimate compliment.