NEW FOR 2016

– All-new model.

The Audi A3 range grows yet again for 2016, reintroducing the popular Sportback hatchback body style that has been absent since 2014. But there’s a caveat – this latest incarnation of Sportback is only available as a plug-in hybrid.

The A3 Sportback e-tron’s powertrain is similar to that of the Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid – both use a 1.4-litre turbocharged and direct-injected four-cylinder engine and a six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic. The key difference is that the A3 e-tron’s gas engine is paired to a 102-hp electric motor fed by a noticeably bigger 8.8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Total output of the system is 204 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque.

As with many plug-in hybrids, the A3 e-tron can be run as an all-electric vehicle or a standard hybrid. Audi says that a full charge is good for 26 km, which is slightly less than that of a Ford Fusion Energi but a ways off the pace of the BMW i3 or Chevy Volt. A full charge from flat takes roughly eight hours on a standard household outlet, or 2.5 hours on a 240-volt charger.

For a plug-in hybrid, the A3 e-tron is enjoyable to drive. Acceleration is especially swift considering the hatch weighs some 200 kilos more than a conventional A3. The ride is arguably the smoothest and most comfortable of the A3 siblings.

With the exception of a handful of details such as a charge port hidden behind the grille’s four-ring logo and unique instruments, the A3 e-tron looks more or less like a conventional A3 hatchback. Thanks in part to a battery pack mounted under the cargo bay floor, there’s a 385 L of capacity with the rear seats up, which can be expanded by folding the seats flat.

A diesel Sportback was originally slated to join the range, but it is presently on hold due to a stop-sale on Audi diesel models.

The A3 Sportback e-tron is offered in ultra, Progressiv, and Technik trims.

Ultra trim level includes 16-inch alloy wheels, automatic bi-xenon headlamps with LED daytime running lights, LED tail lights, high-gloss exterior window trim, panoramic sunroof, aluminum roof rails, e-tron specific body kit with hidden exhaust, rear spoiler, trip computer, hybrid power display, power windows, power heated exterior mirrors, rain sensing wipers, rear wiper, proximity key with push-button start, adjustable drive modes, cruise control, 10-speaker 180-watt audio system, 5.8-inch infotainment screen with MMI control, AM/FM/CD/SD card, satellite radio, USB and aux-in ports, Bluetooth, power front seats with four-way power lumbar support, heated seats, leather upholstery, arm rest, leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles, dual-zone automatic climate control, interior LED lighting, 3D Optic interior trim, and portable e-tron charger with 120-volt and 240-volt cables. The ultra trim level is special-order only.

Key options include Park Assist Package with front and rear parking sensors plus reverse camera, Navigation Package with navigation system with 7.0-inch display and MMI touch controller

Progressiv adds 17-inch alloy wheels.

Key options include Park Assist Package with front and rear parking sensors plus reverse camera, Navigation Package with navigation system with 7.0-inch display and MMI touch controller, and Sport Package with 18-inch wheels and sport seats.

Technik adds navigation display with MMI touch interface, charge delay function, full LED headlamps, blind-spot monitoring system, reverse camera, 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, and advanced parking system with front and rear sensors.

Key options include Sport Package with 18-inch wheels and sport seats, and the Technology Package which adds active lane assist, radar cruise control with stop & go, and pre-collision warning with auto-brake.

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