The Audi A3 hasn't been a smash hit in the U.S. through the 2013 model year, mainly because until now it's only been available in hatchback form.
Now we have a new family of A3s geared more toward American tastes. Does the new A3 lineup have the right stuff, and can it fend off the sexy Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class?
This time around the A3 is going to be available in a few different body styles: sedan, hatchback, and convertible. The sedan should be the most popular model. The shape is quintessentially Audi with a large grille up front, rounded front end, gentle roll of a roofline, and a stubby trunk.
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Inside the A3 ventures into new design territory for Audi. There are actually some VW roots showing here with the horizontal dashboard. We like the round vents and trio of small climate control knobs. There’s an LCD display that rises from the dash which is a uniquely German solution for infotainment.
Let’s be clear, this is a small car, but this interior is larger than the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. Up front comfort is adequate in the seats, but they aren’t as supportive as Audi’s larger models. The lower seat cushion is surprisingly short, even with the optional sport seats. It's not what we expected in a European car.
Overall fit and finish is acceptable but the refinement is meeting the minimum one might expect in a premium-brand small car.
Back in the rear seat you’ll find decent space if you don’t have a very tall driver up front. Headroom is on the tight side for anyone 5’10” and above.
The A3 arrives in the U.S. in two forms: front-wheel-drive 1.8T models with 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque, or our test car which was a 2.0T quattro—meaning all-wheel-drive—model with 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Both engines are turbocharged, direct-injected in-line fours connected to Audi’s dual-clutch transmission.
Need more power? There’s the S3 with that 2.0-liter turbo engine rated at 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque.
In case you missed it, no manual transmission is available in any A3 model at the moment. Sorry America.
Fuel economy rings in at 27 mpg combined whether you get front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive.
From behind the wheel you’ll find an electric power steering system that’s among the best-weighted in the business, with a precision that allows you to place the A3 exactly were you want to in be in your lane. That said, actual road feedback isn’t any more vivid than in most other models, that is to say, it’s a bit dull. The brakes are also precise and easy to modulate.
Safety wise the 2015 A3 has already been named a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS and aced all the tests including the tough new small front overlap test. All the safety features you’d expect in a premium vehicle are here and of course, you can spend plenty on optional extras to up the safety quota. You can even get active lane assist and adaptive cruise control in the A3.
Starting from about $30,000 the A3 comes decently equipped with a power driver seat, Bluetooth, and leather upholstery. Our nicely equipped A3 has a sticker price of just over $36,000 and that includes things like heated front seats and the MMI navigation system. Load it up and you’re looking at about $45,000. Want even more power? That S3 starts at just over $41,000. No matter which model you choose or how much you pay you won’t find stuff like a heated steering wheel or cooled seats, options you can now get in a Kia. That’s a bummer in our book.
So what’s the bottom line with the 2015 Audi A3? It puts more pressure on “premium” small sedans, with real prestige in its badge and real potential in their spec sheets.
For more information be sure to read our full review of the 2015 Audi A3 here.