2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron Test Drive: An E-Ticket Ride in a Compact Wagon [Review]

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Looking for a sustainable commute vehicle that’s really good-looking, fun to drive and extremely versatile? Look no further; the all-new 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron combines all of the aforementioned attributes.

The Audi A3 Sportback e-tron comes in a compact wagon form and is a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) with a Lithium-ion battery that can be recharged via an external power source, such as the e-tron charging system, with the added benefit of a gasoline engine. The A3 e-tron utilizes two power sources – a battery-powered electric motor and a gasoline engine providing an efficient and effective method of powering the vehicle without sacrificing low-end torque or high-end power, while reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.


One might well think of the A3 Sportback e-tron as a mini Avant – the designation that Audi normally applies to their wagon models. Its PHEV technology is comprised battery powered electric motor and traditional gasoline engine. Under the hood is a front transversely-mounted 1.4-liter, DOHC, 16-valve TFSI turbocharged four-cylinder engine with direct injection that delivers 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. The internal combustion engine works in tandem with the electric system power generated by a permanent magnet electric motor. The electrical drive system is powered by a 350 volt 8.8-kWh, liquid-cooled Lithium-ion hybrid battery module consisting of 96 cells and positioned beneath the rear seat that makes 102 horsepower (75 kW) and 243 pound-feet of torque (330 Nm), for a combined total system power output of 204 horsepower (150 kW) / 258 lb-ft (350 Nm) torque.

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

The A3 e-tron’s motive energy is geared to the front driving wheels via a six-speed S tronic automatic transmission that may also be shifted manually. The A3 e-tron enjoys a SULEV emissions rating.

The 2016 model Audi A3 Sportback e-tron will be available in three levels of trim: Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige. Features and equipment increase progressively through the trim levels along with the price. Premium pricing begins at $37,900; the Premium Plus starting price is $42,000 and the top-of-the-line flagship Prestige model is base priced at $46,800. Add a $925 Destination charge for all models. Prices are exclusive of taxes, title, optional equipment and dealer charges and do not reflect federal tax credits available to qualifying taxpayers who purchase the vehicle, which are not available to lease customers. There are also some state incentives, as well as local or regional incentives, which are all subject to change.

Model MSRP*
A3 Sportback e-tron Premium $37,900
A3 Sportback e-tron Premium Plus $42,000
A3 Sportback e-tron Prestige $46,800

*$925 destination and delivery fee not included

The A3 e-tron displays an aerodynamic, sporty, aggressive stance. Up front is an e-tron specific, but DNA familiar Singleframe® grille where the charge port is located. Audi’s S-line® front fascia appears with e-tron specific intake, and the side sills are à la S-line as well. The hood or bonnet features wide character lines that run from the grille, aft to the cowl. Wheel wells are pronounced and a strong shoulder character line surrounds the entire vehicle, while a lower, upward sloping sculpted crease tends to anchor it to the road surface.

In profile, the Sportback’s hood slopes up to the sharply raked windshield that meets the gracefully curved roof, blending into the forward angled rear gate. The greenhouse glass sports a bright surround trim with blacked out “B” and “C” pillars; while the rear angled sail or “D” pillar rises to the top integrated rear spoiler lip. The rear fascia is S-line specific and houses the elongated, horizontal dual exhaust outlets. Available wheel sizes include 16-, 17- and 18-inch diameters with different designs.


The A3 e-tron’s interior is elegantly simple and highly user friendly, while matching the exterior’s sporting flair. A3 e-tron specific cues include: the shift knob, dashboard badging and instrument cluster. Air vents are circular and Audi’s MMI main functions are controlled by toggle switches. The three-spoke steering wheel is leather wrapped and offers available MMI controls. The seats are both highly supportive and comfortable.

For the A3 Sportback e-tron’s press introduction, only Premium Plus models were available for testing, which will likely be the volume sales leader. All wore bright red exterior finishes and had black interiors, and all featured sunroofs. The base sticker for my test vehicle amounted to $37,900., while the as tested price came to an estimated total of $42,925.

SUMMARY: Driving the 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is a totally pleasurable experience, with five driving modes to choose from: EV mode for electric motor power only. Hybrid mode, wherein the vehicle automatically selects the most efficient power source – either EV, hybrid or gasoline. A Hold Battery mode that provides hybrid driving, while preserving any EV range for later use. The Charge Battery mode that uses the gasoline engine to recharge the battery. And finally, the Sport mode accessed by shifting into “S”, which utilizes all available power from both the internal combustion engine and electric drive motor. Sport is obviously the most spirited and most fun driving mode, but also the least efficient.

Acceleration is brisk, handling characteristics are crisp and the ride quality is firm and planted, but comfortable. 0-60 mph time for the A3 Sportback e-tron is 7.6 seconds, with a top speed capability of 130 mph under combined power and 80 mph in EV only mode.

EV range for the A3 Sportback e-tron is a modest 16-17 miles. while the total combined power driving range is over 400 miles. Audi estimates a rating of about 83 miles per gallon equivalent, and for the gasoline engine alone, about 33 mpg in the city, 37-mpg highway, and 35 mpg combined.

Regenerative braking helps to restore battery power, while recharging a fully depleted back to 100 percent on 120 volts takes roughly eight hours. Using a 240-volt source, recharging time drops to about two hours and 15 minutes, while the total driving range is over 400 miles. EPA mileage estimates 83-86 MPGe or 33 mpg city / 37 mpg highway and 35 mpg combined.

Yes, there are hybrid vehicles with better EV only range, but they tend to fall short in terms of visual appeal, overall functionality and versatility, and more importantly, in the fun-to-drive equation.

Bottom line, the all-new 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron has a lot going for it, and after tax credits and incentives, it’s also an affordable PHEV. Discounts aside, it’s definitely an e-ticket ride.

  • Buy itOn the TFLcar scale of:
  • Buy it!
  • Lease it!
  • Rent it!
  • … or Forget it!

I give the 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron a Buy It! for a stylish, economical and practical Hybrid.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

Base price $37,900
Price as tested $42,925
Powertrain 1.4L direct-injection turbocharged gasoline four cylinder, 75kW electric motor
Engine 1.4-liter, DOHC, 16-valve TFSI – turbocharged four-cylinder with Direct Injection
Power 150 @ 5,000-6,000 rpm
Torque 184 @ 1,600-3,500 rpm
Electric system power Permanent magnet electric motor – 8.8-kWh, liquid-cooled Lithium-ion
Power 102 bhp (75 kW)
Torque 243 lb-ft (330 Nm)
Transmission 6-speed S-tronic
Drivetrain layout Transversely mounted front engine / front-wheel drive (FWD)
Total system output 204 hp, 258 lb-ft torque
Curb weight 3,616 lbs
Acceleration 0-60 mph 7.6 sec (manufacturer estimate)
Battery electric range 16 miles
Manufacturer estimated fuel economy (city/hwy/combined mpg) 33/37/35
Manufacturer estimated ultra MPGe (combined city/highway) 83 MPGe
Combined range (gas-electric) Approximately 400 miles
Recharge time (L2 – 220V) 2.25 hours


In another fun and informative first drive review, we learn how much fun driving the 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is on the Pacific Coast Highway near San Francisco.

arv voss Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles and unusual wheeled vehicles as well.