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First Times Drive: 2015 Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid

Same great hatchback flavor. Now with less fuel!

That’s the theme behind Audi’s forthcoming 2015 A3 Sportback e-tron, a compact hatchback due in early 2015 that will be the first ever plug-in hybrid from the German automaker.

Audi A3 fans will tell you that this model range is about to hit a significant growth spurt. Previously, it was only available in the U.S. as a four-door hatchback with either a turbocharged four-cylinder or a turbocharged-diesel engine. The car was a relatively small-time player in Audi’s lineup but attracted a loyal following of drivers who appreciated the premium feel in a compact package.

PHOTOS: Audi A3 e-tron prototype drive

For 2015, Audi has big things planned for the A3 lineup. Because the A4 has grown in both size and price over the years, it’s opened up room at the bottom of Audi’s lineup for a new entry-level sedan. Thus, the 2015 A3 will come in sedan form in the U.S. for the first time. A diesel, convertible and high-performance S3 version are also planned.

Similar changes are happening over at Mercedes, with the brand recently launching its compact CLA sedan to widespread popularity with buyers. Starting at a hair over $30,000, both the CLA and Audi A3 seek to lure in a younger driver and those who might not have considered the brands to be within their price range.

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