AUDI A3 SEDAN ALL NEW POWERHOUSE FOR 2015
By Tom Crosby
Audi is already the best-selling luxury brand in Germany and China and makes a serious move to improve its presence in the United States with the all-new Audi A3, its smallest vehicle and first Audi designed for the U. S. market.
Outfitted with an impressive array of high-tech features and performance, the 2015 A3 models – four of them – will seep into the market this year and next.
First is the compact sedan available in either a 1.8 or 2.0-liter TSFI (turbo fuel stratified injection) engine providing more power, less fuel consumption and reduced exhaust emission.
Audi unveiled the sedans last month in Southern California with test drives on sinuous mountain roads and scenic coastal highways. A Cabriolet (convertible) and diesel will hit dealer showrooms later this year and a Sportback hybrid in 2015.
Longer in length with an extended wheelbase, A3 is slightly slimmer than its predecessor but peppier and extremely well handling with seamless responsiveness and glue-like road grip.
The well-modulated ride and the leather-everywhere interior make for a relaxed, upscale behind-the-wheel experience. Driving the A3 2.0-liter Quattro, which modulates power to front and rear wheels as driving conditions dictate, delivered a comfortable and firm ride with a MacPherson strut front suspension and four-link rear suspension.
The interior’s information and entertainment options, along with several integrated technologies, will make the A3 attractive to younger, entry-level luxury buyers.
Older drivers will have several upgrade options like the $850 Bang & Olufsen audio system with 14 speakers and CD or DVD capability for favorite songs and movies on the pop-up 7-inch dashboard screen when the car is not in gear.
A multi-media interface (MMI) uses a pop-up dial on the center console to move an icon on the screen, like a computer, to fully exploit Audi connect. It provides high-speed internet access to voice texts, Facebook and Twitter alerts, timely traffic updates, driving directions with Google Earth and Street View, and access to 7,000 Internet radio stations.
Audi used a tech firm when designing the A3 to be the first carmaker to integrate its features with AT&T’s 4G LTE network for instantaneous response and accuracy.
Cargo space includes a smallish trunk but 60/40 split rear folding seats add capacity. A spare tire is tucked under the trunk floor. Rear seating is tight for adults. The profile shows minor changes and safety features should excel in future crash testing.
LIKES: Handling, power, technology, fit/finish, quiet
DISLIKES: Rear seating space
BOTTOM LINE: Serious move by Audi into U.S. luxury compact sedan market
- Base price w/o destination charge $32,900
- Curb weight 3,362 lbs.
- Wheelbase 103.8 inches
- Length 175.4 inches
- Width 77.2 inches
- Engine specs 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, turbo direct injection
- Horsepower 220 hp at 4,500-6200 rpm
- Torque 258 lbs.-ft. at 1,600-4,400 rpm
- Transmission 6-speed automatic w/manual option
- EPA Rating 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway
- Range 14.5-gallon tank, premium fuel
- Performance 0-60 in just under 6 seconds