At the moment, the BMW i3 is becoming a darling of the eco-friendly world. As probably the most economical car on the road, being that its plastic in the Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic structure is recycled as well as pretty much every other material on the car, the eco-minded car world loves the BMW i3. Admittedly, having spent a couple of days with the i3, I can say with absolute confidence that it’s a superb automobile and was my choice for car of the year. But is it the best eco-minded futuristic hatch on the road?
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Audi will be releasing the A3 Sportback e-tron soon and it will battle the i3 for small efficient hatchback supremacy. However, the A3 Sportback e-tron will take a different approach, as it will be a plug-in hybrid, compared to the i3’s full EV powertrain. The A3 e-tron will use a 1.4 liter turbocharged engine, developing 148 hp, and will pair it to a 100 hp electric motor. Power will be sent through a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic and will power the front wheels, as opposed to the i3’s rear-drive setup. The A3 Sportback e-tron can go from 0-60 in 7.5 seconds, around the same as the i3, and has a top speed of 138 mph, considerably higher than the i3’s 93 mph.
The A3 Sportback e-tron is also very…normal. On both the exterior and interior it looks and feels like an Audi A3. It also drives eerily similar to an A3. It isn’t very hybrid-y. The BMW i3, on the other hand, is an entirely new motoring experience and, depending on your opinion, can be a good or bad thing. I personally found the i3 refreshing and delightfully different. The A3 Sportback e-tron, however, seems to feel like a hybrid A3, according to various drive reviews. This could be a welcome feature, if you want your hybrid to feel normal. But however you slice it, it isn’t as exciting or interesting as the BMW i3.
The one area where the A3 Sportback e-tron does excel over the i3 is range. Being that it’s a plug-in hybrid and has a gasoline engine, it can travel considerably farther and can refuel quickly. However, its pure electric range, of 31 miles, is far less than the i3’s 80 miles. So if pure EV mode is what you’re after, the i3 is the better choice, but if you’re just looking for something that is extremely efficient and has electric technology, the A3 Sportback e-tron is a very compelling choice. Though, in terms of which car is actually better, I think the BMW i3 is the better car. It’s simply staggering, whereas the A3 Sportback e-tron just seems and feels like a hybrid Audi A3 and isn’t spectacular really. Audi has a good start with the Sportback and should continue to get better with the technology, especially with the upcoming Q6, but for now the BMW i3 is still the king of small EVs.