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Hands on With the 2015 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron PHEV

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA — Santa Monica calls out to every engineer in distant Germany who might be working on a squeaky clean electric vehicle. This suburb of Los Angeles is the epicenter of worldwide EV respectability, the place where the Toyota Prius hybrid changed the way that even the most self-indulgent Americans think about cars. No wonder this town is the site for the first appearance in America of the 2015 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, a plug-in hybrid that goes on sale in Europe in spring 2014 and then arrives in the U.S. in early 2015.

When a German engineer gets off the plane in Los Angeles for the first time, he expects to be greeted by a vast forest of churning windmills powering the electric grid, plus an array of solar batteries on the roof of every Starbucks. Imagine his surprise to find that in Santa Monica, electricity is really all about glamor. It’s more about looking and feeling natural than actually being natural. And the Audi A3 e-tron has the right size, the right science, the right price and the right respectability to deliver the right glamor in this town of software engineers and movie executives.
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