2015 Audi A3 2.0T Premium Sedan quattro S tronic Review By Steve Purdy
By Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
What – no rear-view camera? I’m amazed. Here we have a $40,000 premium compact sedan from one of Germany’s finest automakers, a sport version that may be one of the best in its class ergonomically, and it doesn’t have a back-up camera. We expect the German makers to lead the world in electronic gadgetry and the offering cool technology before we even know we need it. Audi is usually at the forefront of all that. For example, as I was driving into town this hot afternoon with AC on full blast I put the window down for some nice breezes. The car admonished me with a message the said, “Wind resistance. Close window.”
The other disadvantage to this compact sport sedan is the difficulty getting into and out of the small door openings with substantial B-pillar in the way. Even my petite wife thought it was difficult. As it turned out her seat was all the way back making the B-pillar an obstruction that would not exist for a smaller person with the seat properly adjusted. I’m shaped rather like a tuskless walrus so I expect a struggle in any small car. So, only the big and tall need heed that criticism.
Otherwise this is a wonderful little bugger - bright red, quick, agile as a jackrabbit, and frugal as well. As Audi’s smallest sedan in the U.S., the A3 represents an entry point to the brand for many young, affluent buyers. I’m guessing it won’t be long before these youngsters will want something a bit bigger unless they are urbanites and really need something this small. If not, they can move up the Audi ladder.
Audi designers tend to follow their own path without bowing to convention or emulating trends in styling and design. The brand was first to use striking LED lighting (DRLs particularly) to distinguish the brand and make a statement. The huge gaping grille along with the LEDs, big wheels and the smooth understated shapeliness leave no doubt about its identity. The stance and profile project athleticism and the modest use of shiny trim give it a classy look.
The cabin and cockpit provide a comfortable and competent space to spend time once inside. We do not see much trendy stitching, needless electronics or other pandering to conventional elements of modern style. Controls are rather complex and the learning curve is substantial but in many ways Audi continues to innovate with manageable electronics. The power and volume knob for the radio resides by itself on the console and the station list seemed amazingly complete. So I had no complaint there. The navigation system map offers a satellite view as well as a conventional map and even though I struggled a bit to reorient the map with north at the top I found the rest of the functions reasonably easy to manage. The multi-function screen is managed with a slick controller on the console and when we shut the car off the screen slides gracefully into the dash. A 4G LTE data connection is offered as well.
Seating is excellent with good bolstering on the front seats. The rear seatbacks fold flat 60/40 with one of the best release mechanisms I’ve encountered lately. We also have a small pass-though door for long things like skis. Again, the door openings will be a challenge for larger people in the rear as well, but this is, after all, a compact car.
The sweet powertrain is both efficient and entertaining. The little 2.0-liter turbo, good for 220 horsepower and a strong 258 pound-feet of torque, is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. Audi claims a 0-to-60 mph time of an impressive 5.8 seconds. The EPA rates it at 24 mpg in the city, 33 on the highway and 27 combined on premium fuel. We managed 27.4 this week and we had our foot in it often.
We found the overall driving dynamics on this 3,100-pound sport sedan amazingly good, enhanced by four toggle switch-activated driving modes. While the transmission was not as quick shifting as some in normal mode and a bit of turbo lag can be disconcerting. Though if we keep the rpms up and use sport mode and the paddle shifters, or the manual mode on the shifter, we can enjoy even more smooth responsiveness and exhilaration than we expected. And, being equipped with the Quattro (Audi insists on a lower-case ‘q’ but this is a proper noun and I, therefor, insist on a capitol ‘Q’) full-time, balanced, all-wheel drive you’ll always be under control in snow, loose gravel or other low-tractions conditions. The suspension is taut and the tires plenty grippy.
Our A3 2.0T Quattro starts at around $33,000 with 17-inch wheels, panoramic sunroof, power everything, leather seats. The MMI Navigation Plus package adds $2,600 and the Premium Package adds another $2,500. We have the 19-inch titanium finish wheels with summer tires worth $800 extra and a Sport package for $800. Add it all up and were a bit over 40 grand.
Audi’s new car warranty covers the whole car, including powertrain for 4 years or 50,000 miles.
Other than those minor and selectively relevant criticisms above we loved the A3 Turbo both dynamically and aesthetically. Those struggles getting in and out should just remind me I should be much smaller.
©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved
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