I recently had the keys to an Audi A3 Sportback e-tron for a weekend. Since the A3 e-tron is capable of driving solely on its batteries and its electric motor for roughly 16 miles, I wanted to see how far I could go...

On Sunday, after running a couple of quick errands in the A3, I made the trek out to University of Portland’s Merlo Field for a Portland Timbers 2, also known as T2, match. I switched the e-tron to Charge Battery mode on the way there to make sure I had the battery as fully charged as possible.

After the match was over, T2 beat Orange County Blues FC 2-1, I finally had the chance to see how far I could drive the A3 e-tron solely in EV mode. I chose to take the normal route home, which was about 30% surface streets and 70% highway and freeway miles. The route would be just over 17 miles in total, one more than the EPA rated 16 miles. The onboard computer showed the same optimistic 25 mile travel range in EV mode.

If I were the only one in the car, I probably would have not had the AC on to eek out every tenth of a mile as I could get; but, because that was the case, the AC was kicking and added to the drain on the battery. To compensate for some of that, I hypermiled as much as I could and made use of regenerative braking wherever possible.

Another thing that probably did not help my cause was having to climb up the Sylvan Hills on US Highway 26, or Sunset Highways as us locals call it. I saw the battery range drop 4 miles from the point where I entered the tunnel and when I reached the apex. At that point, I knew that I could stem the tide a little bit by using regenerative braking as much as possible on the way back down.

By the time I passed the US Highway 26 and OR Highway 217 interchange, I was down to an estimated 3 miles left with another 3 miles to go. The battery charge gauge had already changed to show one red bar left. As I went up the off-ramp for my exit, the miles left counter hit zero. I started to hypermile even more and tried to eek out every opportunity to regen brake; alas, when the trip odometer hit 15.2 miles, the e-tron switched over to Hold Battery mode and the engine kicked in.

So, instead of heading home, I made a quick detour to a local grocery store and searched for a charging station. The store had two Blink charging stations (only one was working) on the east side of the building. After spending about 5 minutes registering myself as a guest (half of that was fighting the poor touch screen on the Blink charger), I plugged in for about 15 or so minutes. I used that time to do a little bit of grocery shopping.

When I got back, the e-tron showed a range of 2 miles. At that point, I wanted to get out of the heat and head home. I kept the e-tron mode in Charge Battery from that point on,

You can read my other thoughts on the A3 e-tron, as well as some history behind the A3 e-tron at my AudiForLife.com blog.