2015 Audi A3 quattro
by Jim Corbran
Making a statement
Upon entering this week’s test car at Schmitt’s Audi, I mentioned to Alex Michaelidis, Schmitt’s Audi Brand Specialist, that I had an idea of who the typical Audi buyer was. It was something along the lines of “...someone who could afford a (fill in the name of some other German—or Japanese—sport sedan here) but doesn’t want one.” The Audi is everything those cars are (and often more) without the “look at me” statement many of them make.
The A3 was named World Car of the Year at this year’s New York Auto Show, and after driving one it’s not difficult to figure out why. It’s a great size. Not too big, but still comfy for you and three passengers (or you, an adult passenger, and three kids). At the end of my drive I climbed into the back seat and was surprised by the amount of room I had, even with the driver’s seat back far enough for me to drive. The seats fold down 60/40, and there’s also a center pass-through so you can still carry four people and their skis. The front seats were designed with driving in mind. They hold you in perfectly as you throw the A3 into backroad corners, which you can’t help but do.
The 2.0L turbocharged four puts out 220 hp, and the quattro’s all wheel drive version is EPA-rated at 23/33 mpg city/highway. It’s connected to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission (no stick shift is offered) which is very efficient, as is the electromechanical power steering system. A word about the quattro system (and yes, it’s a lower-case “q”): power is always going to all four wheels; it’s usually a 40/60 front/rear split, but the quattro system is proactive in detecting which wheel may need more power at any given time. The whole system just makes the A3 always feel firmly planted on the road.
Earlier I touched on the interior. It too, is understated in the best German sense. The ultra-thin navigation/infotainment screen extends up out of the top of the dash only when needed. Much of the info you’ll use (minus of course, the maps) is available in a pod in the instrument cluster directly in front of the driver. HVAC controls are also available in analog form directly below the air vents—just where you’d expect to find them! The dash itself is unadorned simplicity without looking inexpensive. On the console are the dial controls for the Audi connect® system, including a handwriting-recognition feature which you can use with your fingertip as the stylus. Gadgets? Yes, of course they are, but today’s buyers, used to living in a connected world, expect such things, and Audi doesn’t disappoint. For more info on Audi connect® check out the web page.
The sound system deserves its own paragraph. Audiophiles will instantly recognize the clout behind the name Bang & Olufsen. This one is a 705-watt, 14-speaker unit (optional) which gives concert hall quality sound. A neat feature is the LED lighting which surrounds the speaker openings.
On a related note, but one which doesn’t concern the test car, the A3 is also available as a soft top cabriolet—which I think has one of the best top-up looks in the business.
Pricing? The A3 premium sedan starts at $29,900 with the 1.8L four. The 2.0L version is also available in the Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige lines. The Premium Plus test car listed at almost $42,000. It had the quattro system, navigation package, Bang & Olufsen audio system, Sport package (shift paddles, sport suspension, front sport seats, Audi drive select—which allows you to choose your ride quality), driver assistance package (side assist, parking system with rear camera), and a beautiful black leather interior (which maybe could have been broken up with a bit of wood, but it was still well done).
Unfortunately, the A3 hatchback is no longer available, due to a lack of American buyer interest. But I heard it will be coming back soon in a plug-in electric version.
We’ll be looking for that one.
more info at: audiusa.com
Read more of Jim Corbran's You Auto Know every other week in Artvoice, and more frequently on Artvoice Daily.blog comments powered by Disqus
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