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Published on December 31st, 2015 | by Zachary Shahan


Audi A3 Sportback e-tron vs Audi A3 Sportback TDI 2.0

December 31st, 2015 by  

“This is a noisy beast!!”

That was the first thing that came to my mind and lips when I turned on the Audi A3 TDI 2.0 that I rented last week. And no, it wasn’t a positive thought — well, I guess you could say it became one as I thought about how wonderful electric cars are that they eliminate that noisy nonsense.

Audi A3 TDI

I’ve had to rent several gas- and diesel-powered cars in the past year, and I think this one was particularly noisy, but this is obviously one of the big user downsides of all non-electric cars.

As you may have seen, I drove and reviewed the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, a plug-in hybrid electric car, back in August. I wasn’t particularly impressed with it, as I had just driven a (cheaper) Renault Zoe and realized when driving the A3 e-tron that I really wasn’t “into” plug-in hybrids — they’re just one step below fully electric or extended-range electric cars in drive quality, from what I’ve experienced.

However, compared to the Audi A3 TDI I rented, the A3 e-tron was a gem. The A3 e-tron was definitely much quieter and smoother. It also felt a lot sportier.

Audi A3 Sportback e-tron


As a gas/diesel car, the A3 is a decent car. It’s actually the car I wanted when I was 19 and somewhat clueless. The style suits me, the steering wheel and seats felt like a nice quality (especially for the price), and the car is neither too big nor too small for my taste.

But gas/diesel cars just suck. They are noisy, smelly, rough beasts. Sure, if you want to feel like a lightly clothed Neanderthal, they serve their purpose, but if you want a quick, powerful, quiet spaceship, you need a 21st-century electric car. A plug-in hybrid may not be as ideal as a fully electric car, but at least it’s in the same league and has many of the same benefits to some degree… plus that extra gasoline- or diesel-powered range for the few times you may want it.

And we haven’t even talked about convenience yet. I rented the A3 TDI, drove it ~100 miles away, parked it, and drove back a few days later. If it were an electric car (with adequate range), I could have just plugged in at the destination and then plugged in when we arrived back in Wrocław. With a diesel car, though, I had to fill up at a smelly gas station while inhaling carcinogenic fumes. Doing this once in awhile is annoying enough, but doing it on a weekly (or some other regular) basis must be annoying as heck. I remember the habit from when I owned a gasmobile ~11 years ago, but still, it’s hard to imagine living like that.

Anyhow, back to the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron vs Audi A3 Sportback TDI 2.0 review…

  • Audi A3 Sportback e-tron: If you feel a need for a plug-in hybrid, this is really a solid option. The interior quality is great. It is sport and fun. And it looks hot. I’d still probably choose a Volt over the A3 e-tron, but then again, I wouldn’t choose a car with less than 70 miles of electric range.
  • Audi A3 Sportback TDI 2.0: Don’t.

Admittedly, I didn’t have enough time in the Audi A3 Sportback e-tron to closely compare its infotainment with the A3 Sportback TDI’s. I assume they’re basically the same, though.

Audi A3 e-tron image by Zoran Karapancev / Shutterstock.com; Audi A3 TDI by JuliusKielaitis / Shutterstock.com 


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About the Author

is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in NIO [NIO], Tesla [TSLA], and Xpeng [XPEV]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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