Audi A3 Sportback, the first production plug-in hybrid made by Audi, was released back in 2014. Even so, nobody forgot about it when it was time for another design makeover.

The reason behind Audi's decision to start with the model Audi A3 is very clear. Hybrid technology (electric drivetrains, that is) excels in the cities, which is why the honor of being the first and breaking new ground was bestowed on a small, yet perfectly-sized A3, which gives its best in tight traffic. As such, Audi A3 also grew to be a role model for its four bigger, younger siblings who share the grille decorated with four circles, hinting at the crossovers and sedans that came after.

And the very fact that they followed suggests that Audi has gained tremendously from their A3. With Volkswagen Golf GTE boasting similar technology, we can say, with a clear conscience, that the hybrid drivetrain of today stands on solid ground. Though more prominent headlights and rear lights uplift the car with a note of modernity, the central novelty of a new A3 rendition hides in new assistance systems. So don't raise your brows if, as of now, every Audi A3 features a central 7-inch diagonal MMI monitor and an eye-popping Audi virtual cockpit. For an extra fee, you can buy into Traffic jam assist that will autonomously induce emergency braking when necessary (Emergency assist), perhaps save a pedestrian from injuries (Audi pre-sense front with predictive pedestrian protection), and warn the driver of an approaching object when backing out of a perpendicular parking space (Cross traffic assist rear). We shouldn't forget about the parking assistance (Parking system plus), assistance in keeping the vehicle in the lane (Audi active lane assist), monitoring the blindspots (Audi side assist), the traffic sign recognition assistance and smart cruise control. Nothing you haven't yet seen in the more prestigious sedans, but from now on such technical candies will be available also in the smaller A3.

The hybrid drivetrain remains a combination of a 1.4 liter supercharged TFSI internal combustion gas engine and an electric motor. Thanks to a system output of 150 kW or 204 hp, it takes a thrilling 7.6 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h. The top speed of 222 km/h is nothing short of exciting, either—fast enough for German highways, don't you think? The li-ion battery drinks down about a 100 liters of trunk space more than its classic counterpart, and takes away from the usefulness of the trunk, which is outweighed by a modest gas consumption. The idea that we can travel at up to130 km/h on electricity alone, and reach a theoretical 50 km in silence in the best of circumstances, is rather enticing. Fine, you will never meet ideal conditions on the road, therefore a more realistic 30 km range is not something to sneeze at. In terms of charging, a 380 volt, three phase charger will restore your battery's capacity in just over two hours. And if you're scouring the photographs for a charging station charging port, you'll find it hidden behind the movable Audi four-circle badge on the grille.

E-tron drivers can utilize the Audi application to check on the battery status, the location of the car, as well as its health conditions, to remind them of an upcoming maintenance appointment. In Germany, the most basic plug-in hybrid A3 is priced at 38,700 Euros, which will skyrocket, with the aforementioned technologies included. But there can only be one first, and there can only be so many role models!

Dec. 22, 2016 Driving photo: Audi

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