2011 Audi A3 Review

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2017
The Car Connection
2017
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor

The 2011 Audi A3 is stylish, refined, and versatile—and nearly as good for the city as for the highway.

The Audi A3's sleek fastback-wagon profile, aggressive styling cues, and big alloy wheels are the makings of a pretty fashionable vehicle. Factor in the 42-mpg highway rating that come with the A3 TDI, and you have a very appealing package for savvy commuters.

Performance is remarkably close between the two engines offered in the A3—either that 140-hp, 2.0-liter TDI turbo-diesel, or the 200-hp, 2.0-liter turbo four. Between the two, the TDI engine is narrowly the favorite of our editors, because it cranks out heaps of torque, giving it the response of a torquey big-displacement V-6 off the line or in top gear, while in either model the S tronic gearbox doesn't make the sacrifices that automatics normally do. One thing worth pointing out is that Audi's quattro all-wheel drive system, which is usually offered in most of Audi's cars, isn't offered with TDI versions, or on versions with the manual gearbox.

The Audi A3 driving experience is a joy in most respects: light, direct, and refined. Audi's magnetic ride system is available on the A3 and improves the whole experience; good maneuverability and a combination of crisp response at low speed and good stability on the highway make the A3 an ideal single car for both city streets and the open road.

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted diesel engines in this model illegally cheated federal tests and polluted beyond allowable limits. As part of unprecedented settlements with federal and state governments, Volkswagen agreed to buyback from owners diesel-equipped models of this vehicle. To determine eligibility for all affected Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi models, Volkswagen set up VWDieselInfo.com for owners. (Owners of affected vehicles can enter their VIN numbers to see if their cars are eligible for buyback.)

The A3 has one of the best interiors that Audi currently makes: ergonomically simple, flawless, and well crafted. Some might say that it's starting to look a bit dated, but versus any of the competitive set at the low end of its price range—well under $30k—the A3's interior looks far more upscale and nuanced in design. It's a bit small, but it's well laid-out and exquisitely crafted. The front standard leather buckets sit low, and lack the side support needed in such a car and can cause backaches on longer journeys, though they afford a good view out. For a car of this size, rear-seat accommodations are just acceptable, allowing you to squeeze a pair of adults in there—provided the passengers in front don't mind scooting forward an inch or two. Levels of refinement and interior fit and finish are better than most other small cars. However road noise—and the thrum of the rather low-profile tires—can be intrusive on coarse surfaces, and ride quality with the standard suspension can be somewhat stiff.

The 2011 Audi A3 has an equipment set that we'd best describe as being what "entry luxury" is all about. While it appeals to those who might look at a well-equipped Subaru WRX or Mazda3, it has a stronger feature set than those vehicles at about the same price. Fog lamps, automatic climate control, keyless entry, leather upholstery, and a 140-watt, ten-speaker sound system are all standard. Premium Plus models are a step up and include xenon headlamps, larger alloy wheels, a power driver seat, steering-wheel audio controls, ambient LED lighting, and LED running lamps.

Option highlights include Bose premium sound, a navigation system, and an iPod integration kit.

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June 24, 2015
2015 Audi A3 4-Door Sedan quattro 2.0T Prestige

Good but not great!

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It has all the safety features you could want with excellent handling but doesn't compare with previous Audis I have had. The engine/transmission combo lack smoothness and linearity. Between 1500-1800 rpm the... + More »
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May 7, 2015
2015 Audi A3 4-Door Sedan quattro 2.0T Premium

Good things in a small package...

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Took delivery in September of 2014; now has 21k miles on it, yes, I drive a LOT! Only complaint I have is that the shift mapping could be tighter; many times I find a "flat-spot" when I need acceleration or a... + More »
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May 1, 2015
For 2015 Audi A3

Great Car!

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Sporty and quick. smooth riding, except for slight roughness in slow acceleration. Very responsive.
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October 28, 2015
2007 Audi A3 4-Door HB Automatic DSG FrontTrak

A great little fun car with good performance, handling, quality and reliability.

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I think this is a great car! For me it is the perfect size, Fit & finish are above average as is the performance & handling for a car of the A3 size. I have had zero problems with car & it's going on 9 years... + More »
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April 20, 2015
For 2007 Audi A3

Still love my little car after 8 years!

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Fun, responsive and very comfortable car with plenty of room for even hauling a bike in the back.
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