2015 Audi A3 Photo
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Reviewed by Bengt Halvorson
Deputy Editor, The Car Connection
Quick Take
The 2015 Audi A3 and S3 put more pressure on "premium" small sedans, with real prestige in their badges and real potential in their spec sheets. Read more »
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2015 Audi A3 Sedan
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Decision Guide
Opinions from around the Web

It's clean, almost timeless and Germanic in its "form following function" ideal, but let's be honest — it does tend to make all Audi sedans look pretty much the same. »

familiar styling — is this the face of a new "retro" movement

MSN Autos »

clean, stylish interior design

Autoweek »

a traditional three-box sedan that looks like a seven-eighths scale version of the fourth-generation A4

Autoblog »
Pricing and Specifications by Style
$29,900 $38,600
4-Door Sedan FWD 1.8T Premium
Gas Mileage 23 mpg City/33 mpg Hwy
Engine Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 1.8 L
EPA Class Subcompact Cars
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity 5
Passenger Doors 4
Body Style 4dr Car
See Detailed Specs »
8.0 out of 10
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Choose a Style Below for Colors and Options
2015 Audi A3 4-Door Sedan FWD 1.8T Premium
4-Door Sedan FWD 1.8T Premium
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 1.8 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 27,808 $ 29,900
2015 Audi A3 4-Door Sedan FWD 1.8T Premium Plus
4-Door Sedan FWD 1.8T Premium Plus
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 1.8 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 27,808 $ 29,900
2015 Audi A3 4-Door Sedan FWD 1.8T Prestige
4-Door Sedan FWD 1.8T Prestige
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 1.8 L
Front Wheel Drive
$ 27,808 $ 29,900
2015 Audi A3 4-Door Sedan quattro 2.0T Premium
4-Door Sedan quattro 2.0T Premium
Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 2.0 L
All Wheel Drive
$ 30,598 $ 32,900
More Styles »

The Basics:

With the 2015 A3 and S3, Audi has a new entry-level family of cars that completes a circle. Going back almost two decades, Audi brought over its first compacts under the A4 nameplate; while the A4's been growing larger, and has outgrown its original mission, the redesigned A3 sedan steps in—almost exactly the same size as that original A4.

Of course, Americans only knew the last A3 (there was no 2014 Audi A3, by the way) as the A3 Sportback, a hatchback that found a niche among those who wanted an upscale, wagon-like vehicle with all-wheel drive and lots of versatility. That Sportback will be returning next year in both TDI diesel and e-tron plug-in hybrid form. An A3 Cabriolet goes on sale soon; but for now the A3 is only a compact sedan, including the Audi A3 1.8T, the A3 2.0T quattro, the A3 TDI turbodiesel, and the sporty S3 (covered separately).

These sedans arrive just in the nick of time—as the curvaceous new Mercedes-Benz CLA 250 and several more conservative, entry-lux models like the Acura ILX have already hit the market.

This time around with the A3, Audi's taking a route aimed directly at American car buyers. The A3 and S3 hit the ground first as sedans, and it's a shape that will ring reassuringly familiar to Audi owners and intenders. It's quite like that original A4, in fact, even the 80/90 compacts that came just before. From the available LED headlights, to the emphatic, spare grille, to the gentle roll of the roofline into the stubby trunk, it's as quintessentially Audi as any of the brand's sedans, though it's been penned with completely new sheetmetal, and with a distinctive angle to its rear pillars.

The interior of the A3 and S3 ventures into new aesthetic territory for Audi. More of the VW roots show through in the horizontal dash, though it's differentiated well with round vents, a trio of small climate-control knobs, and by a new MMI controller on the console and by the LCD display that rises from the dash—a uniquely German solution to infotainment that hits a fragile note in the cockpits of Benzes and BMWs, too.

The corporate heritage gets clearer in the powertrain lineup chosen for Audi's American A3 customers. Front-wheel-drive 1.8T models, with their 170-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine, and 2.0T quattro (all-wheel-drive) models, with a 220-hp, 2.0-liter engine, are both direct-injected, and with their low 1,600-rpm torque peaks and quick responsiveness they both do a great job in fooling us to believe they're larger-displacement engines. They're both hitched up to a six-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automated manual gearbox (no manual gearbox is in the plans), and otherwise these models are pretty conventional in layout -- with transverse-mounted engines, front struts, and a four-link independent rear suspension. The electromechanical, speed-sensitive steering is excellent here -- precise and well-weighted.

The 2015 Audi A3 TDI is fitted with a 150-horsepower 2.0-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder engine that produces 236 lb-ft of torque, driving the front wheels through the dual-clutch gearbox. It's offered only with front-wheel drive.

The most coveted edition is the S3. With an uprated version of the same 2.0-liter turbo four and standard all-wheel drive, the S3 should be good for 296 horsepower, and for a 0-60 mph time of about 4.8 seconds -- a performance benchmark just two-tenths of a second shy of the CLA 45 AMG, which sports almost 60 more horsepower. 1.8-liter models take a little over seven seconds, while 2.0T models take a little less than six seconds, although between these two engines, because of different gearing, it's more of a wash in real-world driving.

The A3's cabin is a bit of a throwback, if you've spent time in the current A4 sedan or Allroad wagon. The new four-door's just 175.5 inches long, and it rides on a 103.4-inch wheelbase. That's more than a half-foot longer overall than a Benz CLA, though the wheelbase is longer on the A3, by more than an inch. The Audi's also marginally wider, and it's notable from the back seat how the A3's doors and roofline make its petite back seat more accessible than the one in the CLA. There is, however, quite a bit of road noise in the A3's cabin, and trunk space is rather small.

Audi says it's maximized interior space and boosted crash performance by moving the front wheels forward by about 1.5 inches. The A3 doesn't rely on body along to protect passengers, though: it has pre-collision restraint prep, simulated torque vectoring on the front wheels via its anti-lock brakes, and a passel of optional safety technology, including blind spot monitors and adaptive cruise control that maintains a traffic crawl with a tap of the cruise's resume button.

The 2015 Audi A3 1.8T will start at $30,795, while the 2.0T quattro model starts at $33,795; both are sold as A3 Premium models—which, technically, leaves room for a value-leader base model at some future time. Leather upholstery, a power driver's seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, and the panoramic sunroof are standard across the model line; base models also include Bluetooth audio streaming, HD Radio, satellite radio compatibility, bi-xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, and a rain/light sensor.

Audi's MMI system is also standard, with a 7-inch-diagonal, 0.5-inch-thick retractable screen displaying information from audio and phone systems--and navigation, when it's purchased. MMI now has a wide touch surface on its controller knob, for fingertip text entry--just write out letters, Palm Pilot style, and MMI translates them into destinations or other data.

Audi Connect will be a key upgrade for the connected class. For a subscription fee, A3 drivers can tap into a 4G/LTE data network that delivers Google Earth maps and other rich feeds to the car--which can even store photos of destinations for use as favorites. Audi Connect enables service to as many as 8 devices, and can stream music from them via local wireless networks it creates. It can all be rendered through a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system with 705 watts of output.



  • Quick, nicely weighted steering
  • The best in-dash interface (MMI)
  • Super-flexible, efficient engines
  • Quick 4G LTE embedded data connection
  • Attractive yet uncontroversial design


  • Tiny back seat
  • Road noise
  • Not quite a luxury car
  • Over $40k, well optioned
  • Unadventurous look and feel
Next: Interior / Exterior »

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