Despite cheeper gas prices car companies are still trying to build models that will squeeze every drop possible out a gallon of fuel. We all no gas will not be cheep forever so that is a good thing.
Audi enters the fray with the e-tron, a plug in hybrid that uses the A3 hatchback as it’s host.
It’s the only A3 hatchback available in this country. You can get a sedan but not a hybrid sedan.
Anyway, the e-tron is a nicely put together car. It is stylish, comfortable and gives you the best of both worlds, but not necessarily a lot of both of those worlds.
If you go EV only you will get 17 miles before running out of juice. Doesn’t seem like a lot but there are lots of trips made a day that are less than a couple of miles. Pulling off in EV mode feels quite brisk. The 1.4-liter turbo-charged engine makes about 150 horsepower with 184 foot pounds of torque. The electric engine is powered by an 8.8 kWH lithium ion battery that puts out an additional 104 horsepower and 234 lbs.-ft. of torque. Combined the output is 202 horses with 254 lbs.-feet of torque. When in EV mode the car is whisper silent. I had to keep checking the gauges to see if the car was on. I didn’t go far because the car was nearly out of juice. It takes five hours to charge if you use a regular 120 volt outlet. Find something that puts out 240 volts and you are fully charged in two hours. You can also charge the battery in hybrid mode while highway driving.
To charge the car, twist a lever hidden in the rings on the front grille. That exposes the socket. The portable charger is in the trunk. Once finished, unplug the charger and slide the rings back in place. There are now thousands of spots across the country to charge an EV. Charlotte, NC, has lots, included designated spots in certain airport parking decks.
Most of my time was spent using the electric motor which was fine with me. I’ve met few Audi’s that I dislike and this wasn’t one of them. The e-tron posses the kind of handling you expect from an Audi. That is to say it handles crisply, with sharp turning and accurate steering. The e-tron can get to 60 miles per hour in 7.6 seconds, which is pretty good for a hybrid. (You’ll also be glad to hear that in EV mode it can get up to 80 miles per hour.)
I found the ride to be comfortable. The anti-lock brakes are wonderful. My test car was a Premium Plus, equipped with 17-inch wheels, adaptive LED headlamps and auto dimming mirrors. Extra equipment included all season tires, heated front seats, navigation, audi connect and high-gloss aluminum widow trim.
The interior is very comfortable and displays a great deal of style. The black leather trim was classy and all surfaces felt expensive. The back seat was smallish and there isn’t a lot of room for storage under the hatch.
The base price for the e-tron is $37,900. With options and destination my as-tested price was $46,100.
Well, now, that sounds a bit high but not when you compare it to other plugin EVs. You will get 39 miles per galloon combined as a hybrid. In EV mode it’s a staggering 86 MPGe.
If and when Audi figures out how to extend the EV range on the e-tron, that will be a wonderful thing. For now, the e-tron is still wonderful. You can’t get quattro (Audi’s all-wheel-drive system) yet, but it may be coming. So far, this is my favorite EV. Good job, Audi.