Already on sale in Europe, the U.S. version of the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron is set to arrive this October as a 2016 model. This stylish plug-in hybrid 5-door -- the first e-tron offered in America -- will be available three trim grades. The Audi A3 e-tron Sportback Premium opens at $38,825, the Premium Plus starts at $42,925 and the range-topping Prestige is $47,725. While yet to be finalized, Audi is anticipating each of these compact hatches will qualify for a $4,168 Federal income tax credit in addition to any other available state or local incentives. 

Practical performance 

Sole powertrain in all 2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron models matches Audi's 1.4-liter TFSI 4-cylinder gasoline engine with an electric motor powered by an 8.8kWh lithium-ion battery. The power pack is tucked away under the rear seat to retain the full 13.6 cu-ft cargo bay capacity. Collectively, the A3 e-tron system delivers 204 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque which gets shipped to the front wheels by a 6-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission. Drivers will be able to choose from Hybrid, Hold Battery, Charge Battery and EV operating modes as well as a Sport setting that maximizes the use of both power modules.  

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Although EPA economy stats are still pending, Audi is currently estimating that with a fully charged battery, the new A3 e-tron Sportback will be able to travel 16-19 miles on EV power alone and have a total range of up to 492 miles. Replenishment will take about 2 hours and 15 minutes using a dedicated 240V charger or eight hours on a 120V line. Like virtually all EVs and plug-ins, this new eco-oriented A3 will offer a smartphone app that allows owners to remotely check on the charge status of their vehicles as well as precondition the cabin temperature to help save energy. 

Packaged to please 

Beyond e-tron-specific exterior and interior styling elements that range from Xenon plus HID headlamps and LED taillights to bespoke instrumentation, badging and door sill treatments, the new A3 Sportback e-tron boasts a long list of high-line standard features. Even the Premium model comes with a full array of power assists, dual-zone climate control, a panoramic sunroof, MMI system with a 7.0-inch screen, Audi Drive Select, cruise control, SiriusXM Satellite and Audi Pre Sense Basic. Options include full LED headlamps, MMI Navigation Plus with 4G LTE, a 705-watt/14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system, Audi Connect, adaptive cruise control with stop & go and a comprehensive array of supplemental driver assists.

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