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Audi A3 Sportback e-tron

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Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (Harvey Schwartz)


Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz

The new 2017 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron with the 1.4 liter TFSI Turbo inline four-cylinder engine/electric motor, Audi signature styling, Audi assist, interior quality, ergonomics, luxury and safety—making this model one of the best on the compact hybrid market. I am testing the new model with the technology package and A3 Sportback Premium Plus package. Updated e-tron models now offer improved technology with the virtual cockpit and standard driver assistance systems including Audi pre-sense front braking.

The A3 Sportback e-tron is the first Audi model with a plug-in hybrid drive. It pairs a 1.4 liter DOHC Direct Injected alloy engine making 150hp/258 pounds of torque, combined with an 8.8 kW battery pack/electric motor that produces 75 kW adding up to 204hp and 258 pounds of torque. This combination gives the A3 Sportback e-tron sporty driving with sprint times of 7.6 seconds from 0-60mph and a top speed of 138 mph. Standard Stop/Start technology further helps with efficiency. The car is fun and easy to drive with 4-driving modes: All-EV getting up to 31 miles, Comfort, Sport, Dynamic and Auto. There is a driving mode to make me happy anytime I choose. The flat-shaped lithium-ion battery pack is installed under the rear split-fold-flat bench. The car can also travel up to 80mph under electric power alone. In doing so, it combines both drives for optional efficiency; it also recuperates power with the regenerative brakes and when coasting. A new function in the driver information system indicates whether the hatchback is open or closed.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (Harvey Schwartz)

The style is pure Audi with an electronic edge. The front features a splitter, a Singleframe grille in chrome, a radiator grille in matt black with eleven fine, horizontal chrome struts; in the area of the lower air inlets the plug-in hybrid bears the e-tron emblem, chrome slats as well as LED DRLs, identifiable by horizontal segments as another e-tron specific signature, LED and Matrix LED headlights from the bottom upwards finish the unique looks. In the middle center of the chrome grille is a ‘backed-out’ rectangular piece that opens up and away to put the electric plug into filling the battery pack with electricity. At the side are steeply raked A-pillars, body-color pull out door handles, a full chrome strip around the greenhouse, lower side extensions and heated sideview mirrors. At the rear is an upper spoiler, large horizontal LED lights, an apron containing a gray diffuser with two chrome-plated horizontal slats and two lateral reflectors; the tailpipe of the exhaust system is not visible. Besides the front fenders, the e-tron badges are seen on the Singleframe grille, just above the glovebox, and leather-wrapped stick shifter.

It is pure driving fun and excitement while sipping gasoline as I go on my way. The transmission, independent suspension and electric power-assist steering all work together giving me easy driving fun. This FWD 6-speed S-tronic transmission comes with electronic stability control with secondary collision brake assist. It shifts seamlessly and is fun to use the stick shifter when placed in S to manually go up or down the gears. The steering is electromechanical with speed dependent power assistance. It is quick reacting with a great feel for the road. The fully independent suspension can be tuned to how I want it to react to the road conditions and my speed. Up front are McPherson struts with lower wishbones, an aluminum subframe to lessen NVH, and a tubular anti-roll bar. Out the rear is a four-link setup with separate spring/shock arrangement, subframe (to further lessen NVH) and a tubular anti-roll bar. It gives me the confidence to take on the steepest curves, holds steady at high speed and turns on a dime when exiting your lane into another road. The big power-assisted steel disc brakes also give me the confidence I need to quickly and safely stop the e-tron. Up front are 12-inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers, and 11-inch solid discs clamped with single piston calipers in the rear. Braking is enhanced with standard ABS and hydraulic BA. The parking brake is electronic. The new A3 Sportback e-tron rides on 7X17 inch cast aluminum wheels and shod with Michelin 225/45R17 inch Conti Contact low-profile tires for excellent grip and a smooth, quiet ride.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (Harvey Schwartz)

The interior is roomy, quiet, and the doors open wide with an aluminum e-tron kick plate. The interior features soft, high-quality material covering the dashboard, real aluminum trim, 3D optic inlays on the doors and dashboard. The 3-spoke leather-wrapped/heated/tilt/telescopic multifunction steering wheel feels perfect in my hand. The 8-way adjustable sport bucket seats are fully bolstered to keep me and my passenger snug during exhilarating driving times. All knurled switches are encased in real aluminum with buttons faced in aluminum. The virtual cockpit is new this year and features all the information that I might need including the GPS navigation maps which include Google Earth.

More standard equipment not mentioned above includes Keyless Go with a push button start/stop, Audi Concert Surround Sound Concert Audio system with 11-speakers, Audi music interface with two USB ports and a 3.5mm aux-in, dual-zone electronic climate control, all windows express up/down, power door locks, two lighted vanity mirrors, lighted dual cupholders in the center console, glove box/rear cargo light, dual map lights including LED interior lighting, remote fuel filler door, retained power, Bluetooth, panoramic sunroof, rain/light sensors, Sirius Satellite Radio, grab handles above each door, pull-down rear armrest/dual cupholders/dual air-vents, and a 60/40 split-folding rear seat. The luggage capacity is 9.9 cu.ft. and 39.6 cu.ft. with the bench seat folded.

The options I am enjoying while driving include Audi MMI navigation with MMI touch, Audi connect PRIME & PLUS, Audi Side Assist with rear cross traffic assist, 12.2 inch Audi Virtual Electronic Reconfigurable Cockpit, Audi Smartphone interface, heated front seats, Auto-dimming review mirror/compass, 3D Optic inlays, Parking system plus, full LED headlights/ LED taillights with dynamic turn signals.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (Harvey Schwartz)

Standard safety systems include driver/front passenger advanced airbags, driver/front passenger knee airbags, driver/front passenger seat-mounted thorax side airbags, SIDEGUARD inflatable curtain airbags, rear side airbags, driver 3-point safety belt with automatic Pretensioning and force limiters, front passenger 3-point safety belt with automatic locking and force limiters, rear outboard 3-point safety belts with automatic locking retractor and automatic Pretensioning, rear center 3-point safety belt with automatic locking retractor, LATCH system for child seats, rear door child safety locks, an anti-theft alarm system and a tire pressure warning system.

Mileage is extraordinary with numbers such as 83 mpg combined city/highway; and 34 mph combined city/highway in gasoline only. What can I say, for a compact 5-door hybrid with near luxury inside, great looks, engineering, connectivity and safety, you cannot beat the new 2017 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4 TFSI Turbo with FWD and S-tronic transmission.

© Harvey Schwartz

For more information about Audi products, go to audiusa.com.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron (Harvey Schwartz)

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle:
2017 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4T FWD S Tronic

Price:
$38,900.00-base/$46,675.00 as tested including destination

Fuel economy ratings:
EPA Fuel Mileage: 83mpg-electric/gasoline; 34mpg-gasoline only

Engine:
1.4 liter TFSI Turbo, all-aluminum, DOHC, 4-cylinder Direct Injection

Horsepower:
150 at 5,000-6,000rpm

Torque:
184.4 pounds at 1,600-3,500rpm
Combined with the electric 8.8 kW engine are 204hp/258 pounds of torque

Transmission:
6-speed S-tronic FWD automatic/sequential shifting

Steering:
Electromechanical steering with speed-dependent power assistance

Suspension:
F-McPherson struts, with lower wishbones, aluminum subframe, tubular anti-roll bar
R-four-links with separate spring/shock arrangement, subframe, and tubular anti-roll bar

Brakes:
F-12 inch vented discs with dual-piston calipers/R-11 inch solid discs with single-piston calipers/ABS/BA/ESC

Wheels/tires:
7X17 inch cast aluminum wheels/225/45R17 Michelin Conti-Contact low-profile tires

Dimensions
Length: 169.7 inches
Width: 70.3 inches without mirrors
Height: 56.1 inches
Curb weight: 3,395 pounds

EPA size classification*:
Subcompact car

* Passenger car classes are designated by the EPA based on interior volume index or seating capacity, except the ones classified as special vehicle. A two-seater is classified as a car with no more than two designated seating positions.

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