.The perception of luxury is beginning to change and the proof is the Audi A3. It may be the most inexpensive way to leap into Audi’s Line-up. But at least it’s not a penalty box. Here’s why:
The 1.8 turbo that was shared with the Volkswagen Golf is no longer offered. Instead you get to choose from two very potent 2-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The front-wheel-drive configurations get 186hp while the versions with Quattro All-wheel-drive get the familiar 220hp output. Pick of the range depends on what you want the most from your A3. If you really do need the extra traction your only choice is to get the more powerful engine option, while everyone will find that the front-wheel-drive form is good enough for their needs. Our tester car came equipped with the all-wheel-drive seeing that the first time around when we drove the A3 it was front-wheel-drive and had a 1.8 turbo engine.
The A3 is quite easy to drive around town and is very nimble. What we enjoyed the most about the A3 is how refined it felt without ever feeling dull or boring. The 2-liter turbo engine offered the low-end torque that we loved especially when merging and overtaking on faster paced roads. We did get the chance to experience the all-wheel-drive in action as it did rain during our test. The grip was there and we loved it but like we said prior, you’ll have to really want it to justify the slight increase in price and the spike in running costs. The 1.8 turbo we tested proved that the front-wheel-drive A3 is just as capable of holding its own on slippery surfaces. Steering feedback was where it should be, it provided enough feedback to provide confidence in corners and bends without being overly heavy like in some BMW vehicles we’ve encountered. Wind and road noise are far from an issue but the ride comfort can get slightly too firm with the larger alloy wheels. The sports suspension option that our tester car came equipped with made the ride comfort overly firm and borderline unforgiving. It would’ve been different if the A3 had the trade-off of fantastic handling like the Mini Hardtop 4-door Cooper S, but it’s nowhere near as good as the Mini.
Audi knows how to make an interior and the A3 is no exception to this, even though the A3 is the cheapest of the range. The materials used inside of the cabin feel high class and well put together, you won’t have any complaints about the interior. We love how the infotainment system leaps out of the dash, it adds a bit of classiness to the overall impressive interior layout. The controls and dials are easy to read and are also easy to navigate through. What we love the most is how everything feels substantial and doesn’t feel like it’s built to a price. The front seats offer plenty of support while those in the rear seat will feel shortchanged on legroom. The boot space is actually quite good for such a small sedan.
The A3 we had as a tester car was the Premium Quattro which came fitted with the following options: keyless entry with push button start, sport front seats with Audi drive select, heated front seats and a sports suspension riding on 18-inch alloy wheels. Bi-xenon headlamps, dual-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof and leather-wrapped gear selector all come standard on the A3.
The Audi A3 is a great option for those who want an Audi but can’t afford the price premium of the A4. However, just like the CLA we have to say that the A3 is pretty hard to justify when there are so many indirect rivals that offer more standard kit and a bigger backseat. You’ll really have to want an Audi to be willing to dish out the premium that is associated with it. Our tester car mildly kitted came with a price tag near $40k and well for that money we could go elsewhere and get more value for our money.
Likes: The new 2-liter turbo engine is way better than the old 1.8 turbo. The interior is classy with high quality materials used.
Dislikes: The A3 is bland to look at. Our tester car was pretty pricey and that was just the entry-level trim.
Our pick: The premium with front-wheel-drive will be enough for most buyers. You don’t really need all-wheel-drive unless you just have to have the extra traction. Otherwise, running costs wise and performance wise the front-wheel-drive is just as good and can hold its own well.