Audi A3 Turbo S Review and Road Test By Steve Purdy
AUDI A3 TURBO S LINE
By Steve Purdy
The cute little Audi A3 landed in my driveway at a great time – the week of the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City,(see Steve's C.A.R. MBS Reports) a three-hour-plus drive north of here along Michigan’s Gold Coast. Regular readers will have seen the stories I posted from this important auto industry conference held in one of Northern Michigan’s most beautiful resort towns. As you might guess, the roads up there are rather spectacular as well.
Our test car is the 2.0 TFSI, front-wheel drive (as opposed to the popular all-wheel drive quattro) with S-tronic® (dual-clutch with manual mode) 6-speed automatic transmission. TFSI refers to the 2.0-liter, turbocharged, fuel injected, 200-horsepower engine with cast-iron block, aluminum heads and lots of engine technology to make this one mighty efficient engine. With 207 pound-feet of torque this compact wagon, or hatchback, if you prefer, makes plenty of power for whatever you want to do – haul a load, climb a mountain, pass on a country road or outrun the Mounties.
Starting at close to $29,000 we can fit this into a category of ‘premium’ compact cars. Though much more technologically simple than many of its larger Audi siblings it still has a nice premium look and feel. Seventeen-inch alloy wheels on low-profile (45-series) tires fill the wheel wells nicely. The “S line” trim (cooler bumpers, a rear spoiler and some badging), halogen lights, an athletic stance and gaping grille give it a distinctive sporting flavor.
Interior volume, as measured by the EPA, is a good 89 cubic-feet. The rear seat feels cramped (this is after all a small car) but the 60/40 split seat backs fold easily to make 39.0 cubic feet of cargo space. With the seat backs in position we still have 19.5 cubic feet of space to fill.
Both engines come with what Audi calls S Tronic®, their version of the quick-shifting, dual-clutch automatic transmission. We first experienced this slick transmission in a couple of VW products a few years ago and we were impressed. The technology is becoming more common and involves the transmission’s ability to preselect the gear on either side of the one you’re in to give you lightning-fast (0.2 seconds) shifts. That’s quicker than you can shift a manual gearbox. And, fuel mileage is equal to the manual as well.
We give good marks to the A3 in all categories of drivability. The tight 35.1-foot turning radius makes it easy to maneuver in any situation. Acceleration is excellent with very little turbo lag. The throttle and brake actuation are touchy but we got used to it quickly.
Our 2011 A3 2.0 TFSI FWD automatic test car shows a base price of $28,750. The vivid blue paint costs $475 extra and a Bluetooth Value Package (Bluetooth, multifunction leather steering wheel and power driver seat) adds another $600. The Cold Weather Package at $500 and the destination charge of $875 brings our total to $31,200.
Safety features include 4 airbags, ABS, Electronic Stabilization Program (stability control) and tire pressure monitoring.
Audi’s new car warranty covers the car bumper-to-bumper, including powertrain, for 50,000 miles or four years. The first scheduled maintenance at 5,000 miles is free.
For 2012 we’ll be getting a revised A3 on a new modular VW platform with two more bodies – a 2-door hatchback and a cabriolet – and updated styling with LED light strips in front like the A3’s larger, more expensive siblings.
Also for 2012 look for Cadillac’s new ATS the challenge the premium small car market along with BMW’s 1-Series and Mercedes A-Class.
Don’t you just love all this competition? It sure gives me lots of great cars to test.
© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved