The long awaited Audi A3 Sportback e-tron goes on sale officially today, January 13. The car was supposed to be in showrooms in October, but some last minute glitches delayed some of the approvals it needed from regulators. Now, all the proper documents have been stamped with the proper endorsements, so you can sashay down to you local Audi dealer and drive one home if you like.
The A3 Sportback e-tron has an 8.8 kWh battery that gives it up to 17 miles of pure electric range. With that small a battery, it only qualifies for a federal tax credit of $4,158. However, the e-tron is better equipped than the base A3. Subtracting the tax credit from its $37,900 starting price brings it down to just $3,000 more than the price of a base car with less equipment.
According to Inside EVs, the A3 Sportback e-tron is an important car because it will introduce more people to the joys of electric motoring. Those people will tell more people and soon everyone will be clamoring for a plug-in hybrid car. That’s the theory, anyway.
In reality, our own Zachary Shahan drove one last fall and came away less than impressed. Highest on his list of complaints was the lackluster performance of the car when accelerating from rest. “I expected basically the same experience when driving on electricity as with a fully electric car — not a muted experience.” Perhaps the smallish battery is simply not able to deliver the kind of performance one expects from a base level Nissan LEAF, but if that is the case, it makes you wonder why Audi would even bother making this car. Zach also faulted the car for having regenerative braking that was so weak, he wasn’t even aware of it. No one foot driving in this car.
The bottom like is that this is an Audi and it does have a plug-in hybrid powertrain. If those two things are enough to get you to shell out $37,900 for one, go for it. Get yours today and be the first in your neighborhood to own one of Audi’s first ever plug-in hybrid car.