2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro S tronic Review

Thursday August 25th, 2016 at 8:88 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro S tronic

By David Colman

Hypes: Small, Agile, Beautifully Constructed
Gripes: Top Up Vision Nil

As the 2016 model year draws to a close, you may find some enticing deals on this hard to beat compact convertible from Audi. Our test example carried a window sticker of $50,425. This is a lot of German fun for the money, especially if you can finagle a year end discount. Be aware, however, that the 2017 A3 has already been announced. Its frontal styling is a little crisper than our outgoing 2016 model, and it features more dramatically outlined LED lighting front and rear. The 2017 A3 will also offer Audi’s sensational Virtual Cockpit, which premiered this year on the TT sports roadster. This bit of digital fantasy superimposes Google Earth and Google Street View on the instrument panel directly in front of you.

2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro S tronic

Our 2016 A3 made do with a more conventional instrument cluster, featuring a pop-up mid-dash top mounted screen that brings all the prompts together for you to select: Car, Telephone, Audi Connect, Navigation, Media, Radio, Tone. We kept trying to find the Sport Mode under the “Car” umbrella, but failed to do so. After perusing the Owner’s Manual, it became apparent that our particular A3, despite being a “Prestige” equipped model for an added $8,850, lacked the “Audi Drive Select” feature which would have provided a choice of “Comfort, Auto or Sport” settings via a dash button that was blanked off on our test vehicle.

2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro S tronic

What you do get for that extra investment in the Prestige model, however, makes the expense well worthwhile. Front seats come heated, exterior mirrors fold away when parked, driver’s side mirror dims automatically, “Mistral” aluminum interior trim decorates dash and doors, S Line trim emboldens exterior surfaces, LED interior lighting shines brightly, and a Bang & Olufsen sound system provides harmonic ecstasy. Although 18 inch alloys are included as part of the Prestige kit, our test Audi sported upgraded 19 inch “5-arm-Wing-design” wheels finished in titanium with edges beveled to shine. These dynamic looking rollers were fitted with 235/35R19 Continental Sport Contact tires with sidewalls so minute that the A3 looked like it was riding on its rims.

To make up for the lack of Audi Drive Select, our A3 was equipped with $250 worth of “Sport Suspension” so you could rightfully consider yourself to be driving in Sport Mode all the time. Also, the A3 permits deletion of Electronic Stabilization Control (ESC) and Anti-Slip Regulation (ASR) by hitting the designated button on the dash. Punching it for one second partially disables ESC and ASR, hitting it for 3 seconds fully disables both traction aids. With Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive powering all four wheels, however, you’re safe to experiment with the handling of this compact sports sedan, even with ESC and ASR temporarily disabled. It’s almost impossible to get the A3 to lose its grip, with or without traction aid engaged. This stubby platform, which measures just 175 inches in length, seems tied to the ground by invisible umbilical cords.

2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro S tronic

With its high sides and short windows, the A3 makes for a fairly sepulchral cockpit experience when the roof is up. Especially troubling is the view to the back. The rear window pane, while heated glass, is fairly small. The twin rear seat headrests obscure nearly half your view out the back. Large rear sail panels further reduce three-quarters vision to the point where you will find yourself wholly reliant on the new-for-2016 backup camera and screen display. It’s almost worth dropping the top whenever you need to reverse out of a parking place. The top is a marvel of engineering which takes but 15 seconds to lift or drop. It can also be run at speeds up to 20mph. Just be sure to have the appropriate trunk divider partition in the proper position, or the system won’t work at all. Audi has thoughtfully provided a couple of latches inside the trunk to drop the rear seatbacks. You can then pass bulky objects through from the trunk into the interior. Audi also provides a windblocker for the cockpit which stores flat in the trunk.

2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro S tronic

We were never bothered by excessive wind, so the blocker stayed folded in the trunk. You can carry a couple of adults in the tight back seat, but if they stretch more than 5’8”, they won’t have head room with the top erect. They will, however, discover a pair of heater/AC vents facing them on the central tunnel.

2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro S tronic

For $50,000 plus, you would expect this Audi to include electric seat and steering wheel adjusters, but the A3 Prestige has neither. Although 170hp and 292hp engines are available for the A3, the 2.0-liter turbo in our test car was more than adequate for cutting through traffic or scorching up back roads. It uses fuel in a miserly fashion, with its 14.2-gallon tank good for a range of nearly 370 miles in combined mode driving. On a sunny day, with the top dropped and the tunes maxed, there isn’t a better car in the universe that this A3 Cabriolet.

2016 Audi A3 Cabriolet 2.0T Quattro S tronic

  • Engine: 2.0 liter TFSI turbo in-line four
  • Horsepower: 220hp@4500-6200rpm
  • Torque: 258lb.-ft.@1600-4400rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 23MPG City/32MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $50,425
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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2016 Audi A6 3.0T quattro Tiptronic Review

Thursday June 9th, 2016 at 11:66 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Audi A6 3.0T quattro Tiptronic

By David Colman

Hypes: The Decathlete of German Sedans
Gripes: Move the Start/Stop Button Closer To The Driver

“I could live with this car.” It was my wife Judy making that comment after spending a fairly intensive week driving and riding in the Audi A6, a supercharged super sedan that elicited an observation I had never heard my wife express before. And bear in mind that we test drive close to 50 cars every year, year after year. Her positive assessment was one I also shared. This Audi was proving itself- rather unexpectedly – to be a real keeper. The A6 is not, after all, the fastest sedan Audi makes, nor is it the best looking, the most powerful, or even the least expensive. To check any or all those boxes, you’ll have to look elsewhere in the company’s model lineup. Surprisingly, what the A6 has to offer is more than the sum of its parts. It provides a very satisfying ownership experience, with just enough power, handling, comfort and looks to tick all the tabs for the perfect ride.

2016 Audi A6 3.0T quattro Tiptronic

Let’s start with the 3.0 liter V6 in the engine bay. Underneath Audi’s plastic modesty shield lies a ribbed aluminum supercharger that provides just enough horsepower (333hp) to make the A6 a true sports sedan. Whenever you lean on the throttle, the efficient V6 snaps smartly into action. Direct high pressure fuel injection insures complete combustion, and that supercharger instantly starts to whine as it makes boost. The 8 speed Tiptronic transmission harnesses every burst because it allows you to retain gear choices manually via paddle shifts. If you simply leave the Tiptronic to its own devices, it will provide a steady stream of passing power by downshifting on its own when you tromp the throttle. The V6 offers a solid compromise between horsepower and economy, with a 24 MPG overall fuel consumption rating.

2016 Audi A6 3.0T quattro Tiptronic

Our week with the A6 included more than 300 freeway miles, so we got very familiar with its handling characteristics on a round trip to Monterey from the Bay Area. The outbound drive took place in a driving rainstorm which proved the exceptional adhesion quattro (all-wheel-drive) provides in inclement weather. The 255/30R20 Pirelli P Zero tires, part of a $1,500 “Black Optic Package” that also includes striking “5-Arm Rotor Design Wheels with Titanium Finish,” proved perfectly suited to standing water. There was no tendency to hydroplane despite the Pirellis’ wide tread and ultra-low profile sidewalls. The return trip in dry sunny weather also showed the Audi suspension to good advantage, with lots of high g-force cornering stick on the snaky sections of coast Route 1.

One of the reasons for the trip to Monterey was to conduct an interview with a well known race driver at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The best place to conduct said interview proved to be the inside of the A6, which provided peace, quiet and comfort. All three are hard commodities to come by at Laguna Seca on a race weekend. The cabin of the A6 provides a wonderfully accommodating environment. The front and rear seats are all heated thanks to a $500 Cold Weather Package that also warms the rim of the steering wheel. The dashboard and door panels look and feel opulent because they are inlayed with matte finish, open grain chocolate wood veneer which Audi calls “Fine Grain Ash Natural Wood.” Conducting business in this environment felt completely natural since the A6 cabin, with its oodles of available seating adjustments, resembles a slick office more than a mere car interior.

2016 Audi A6 3.0T quattro Tiptronic

Although the base price of the A6 is a relatively modest $57,400, you’ll probably want to upgrade your Audi with the $4,200 “A6 Prestige Model” package which includes a Bose sound system, LED interior lighting, LED headlights, and a very handy electric trunk opener and closer. This last feature proved its worth innumerable times on our road trip. The final item on the Prestige list is a head-up display which projects your current road speed on the lower inside face of the windshield. Long freeway stretches make this easily accessed information particularly valuable.

2016 Audi A6 3.0T quattro Tiptronic

The Audi A6 is the definitive German sports sedan. Its subdued appearance belies its lion-hearted performance. You can spend lots more on a BMW or Mercedes, but you won’t get a better, more practical, more luscious sedan than this mid-priced Audi.

2016 Audi A6 3.0T quattro Tiptronic

  • Engine: 3.0 liter TFSI V6
  • Horsepower: 333hp
  • Torque: 325lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 20 MPG City/30 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $66,875
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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2016 Audi S7 4.0T Review

Monday April 25th, 2016 at 10:44 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Audi S7 4.0T

By David Colman

Hypes: The Magic Carpet Ride
Gripes: Heated Steering Wheel and Rear Wiper Should Be Standard

Since its recent introduction, the Audi S7 has quickly matured into one of the most athletic and expensive hatchbacks you can buy today. Normally, hatchbacks fill utilitarian needs in the lower end of the market spectrum. VW started the craze back in the 1970s with the original Rabbit, which allowed you to load all manner of cargo through its huge lift-up rear door. VW also turned the cargo hatch into the hot hatch by introducing the GTI version of the Rabbit. The GTI started other manufacturers on a stampede to emulate its practicality and scintillating performance. In short order, everyone was offering a hot hatch to combat the GTI invasion. It should thus come as no surprise that Audi, a division of VW, has upped the ante in the hot hatch field from the original $10,000 GTI to the current $100,000 Audi S7. Well, okay, the $95,525 Audi S7.

2016 Audi S7 4.0T

You can chose from 3 different engines for the S7. The base model uses a 3.0 liter V6 making 333hp. Our test quattro-equipped S7, dubbed “4.0T” by Audi, carries a base price of $82,900, and utilizes a 4.0 liter, twin turbo V8 good for 450hp and 406lb.-ft. of torque. If that isn’t enough motive power, the $109,825 RS7 bumps engine output to 560hp and torque to 516lb.-ft. Several expensive option packages boosted the final tally of our test car. You’ll gladly pay $3,500 for the “S7 Sport Package” which consists of Audi Dynamic Steering, Quattro Sport Rear Differential, and Sport Exhaust With Black Tips. While you don’t absolutely need these three additions to enjoy life with this Audi, the adjustable steering calibration adds to your driving precision, the special differential aids all weather traction, and the sport exhaust really enhances the sound of the engine’s peak thrust.

2016 Audi S7 4.0T

Also elevating the price were a $2,700 optional set of 21 inch “5-Arm Rotor” alloy wheels with 275/30R21 tires that were supposed to be “summer performance” rubber, but were in fact Dunlop Winter Sports 4D snow tires. Since it rained for much of the week we spent with the S7, these massive Dunlops were perfect for exploring the handling limits of the hefty 4,235lb. Audi. Rest assured that those limits are so high in all circumstances that you will never find yourself exceeding them, even in the heaviest rain or snow. This Audi is prepared to transit anything short of the Rubicon Trail with grace, ease and consummate finesse.

2016 Audi S7 4.0T

The $2,500 optional “Audi Design Selection” interior upgrade moves the cabin of the S7 into the Rolls Royce/Bentley realm of opulence. Its “Arras Red Interior” converts all Valcona leather seating surfaces to box quilted brick red leather that feels scrumptious and looks palatial. It also includes “Carbon Twill Decorative Inlays” which are so attractive they make common carbon fiber look prosaic. Audi has managed to weave a reddish strand through the carbon nexus that invests the material with a depth and vitality that transforms the look of the entire cabin. In addition, medium gray ultra-suede covers the door panels and roof liner, with discrete matte aluminum tags reading “Design Selection” appended to each door card.

2016 Audi S7 4.0T

Finally, another $2,450 buys you the “Driver Assistance Package” which includes adaptive cruise control with stop and go, active lane assist, a corner view camera system, and a high beam assistant. We tested the stop and go feature and decided we’d rather trust our instincts than depend on the electronics to keeps us out of trouble. The lane keep flashes a bevy of orange lights under each exterior mirror when proximate traffic is detected. These flashing lights mimic those you might see on an adjacent police cruiser, and proved to be a constant source of irritation. Do yourself a favor and save $2,450 by not ordering this accessory group.

2016 Audi S7 4.0T

The S7 is a phenomenally fast, handsome and comfortable long distance cruiser. It will cover virtually any terrain in any kind of weather without giving you pause. The interior fitments are so beautifully and elegantly devised that passengers will think they’re riding in a car costing $200,000. It’s not often that a $100,000 Audi manages to look like a terrific bargain, but this one most certainly does. Hatchback have come a very long way since VW brought that first Disco-era Rabbit to market so many years ago.

2016 Audi S7 4.0T

  • Engine: 4.0 liter twin turbo V8, TFSI
  • Horsepower: 450hp
  • Torque: 406lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 17 MPG City/27 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $95,525
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4T FWD S tronic Review

Thursday March 3rd, 2016 at 11:33 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4T FWD S tronic

By David Colman

Hypes: The Only Non-Clown Car Hybrid
Gripes: Electric Range Disappointing

Audi’s bread and butter car is the A3, which is available in a stupefying number of iterations. The newest and greenest of the bunch is the Hybrid “e-tron” version which debuted as a prototype almost 3 years ago at the Frankfurt Auto Show, reappeared at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2013, and is now finally in production. The Hybrid offers two modes of propulsion. The first is a small displacement (1.4 liter) inline 4 making 148hp and 184lb.-ft. of torque. This advanced design engine features double overhead cams and 16 valves. The second motor is electric and produces 55hp and 243lb.-ft. of torque. These engines feed their combined output of 201hp and 258lb.-ft. of torque to a 6-speed twin clutch automatic gearbox. The e-tron model is offered as a five door hatchback, with comfortable seating for 4 adults plus a spacious storage area behind the rear seats. Fold those 60/40 split back seats down, and you’ve got enough storage for a mountain bike.

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4T FWD S tronic

Inside the trunk you will discover a large zippered bag containing the recharge apparatus for the electric motor’s 661 pound battery pack. This kit consists of a heavy oblong charging unit which plugs into a receptacle hidden behind the Audi rings in the front grill. Included in the kit are alternate plugs for 120volt and 240volt applications. A guide light implanted in the grill throbs green as the unit recharges the battery, then turns solid green when the procedure is complete. At 120volts, a full charge on an empty battery takes about nine hours. At 240volts, the same process takes about three hours. We left the charge unit fastened overnight in order to insure a full charge at 120volts. We then headed over the hill from our home on the coast to a point just 10 miles away. At that point the battery charge indicator read empty. Audi estimates 33 miles per full charge, but does add a disclaimer that your charge mileage may vary.

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4T FWD S tronic

Regardless of such limited battery utility, the A3 Sportback is a still delectable German hatchback that provides stunning good looks allied to excellent handling. Although Audi has staked its reputation on the virtue of Quattro all-wheel-drive, the power train layout of the e-tron does not allow room to install all-wheel-drive in the Sportback. Thus, you must make do with front-wheel-drive only. However, the traction offered by front wheel pulling power is excellent, so good in fact that you’ll be hard pressed to determine that the rear wheels are not also driven. Helping control the A3 through turns and switchbacks are a set of grippy 225/45R17 Pirelli Cinturato P7 tires mounted on special 15 spoke “Turbine Design” alloy rims. These tires and wheels are part of the optional $4,100 Premium Plus group which also provides heated front seats and full LED headlights.

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4T FWD S tronic

The fit and finish of the A3 has been improved over the years to the point that it is now indistinguishable from Audi models costing twice as much as our $46,655 test car. For example, the sport model front seats are works of art in terms of design, appearance and comfort. The dashboard features “3-D Optic” inlays which give this normally boring expanse of vinyl an alluring depth. High gloss aluminum window trim frames the side glass with handsome slashes of brilliance, while adaptive lighting in the cockpit casts a touch of Hollywood glamour on the entry and exit procedure. The dash and window treatment, along with the stage lights are all part of the Premium Plus package.

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4T FWD S tronic

If your obligation to save the planet requires ownership of a Hybrid, the Audi A3 e-tron is a worthy choice. Unlike so many awkward looking electric powered offerings (Toyota Prius, Mitsubishi i-MiEV and Nissan Leaf come to mind), Audi’s petite Hybrid makes no concessions to ugliness. While it is not 100 percent electric, it still qualifies you as a certified greenie – without having to look like a weenie. Indeed, the A3 enjoys all the attributes of its gas powered model line siblings: pleasing appearance, smart packaging, efficient use of energy sources, and unexpected comfort. Although the base price of the A3 e-tron looks steep at $37,900, this entry level foothold on Mount Audi is well worth your investment.

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4T FWD S tronic

2016 Audi A3 Sportback e-tron 1.4T FWD S tronic

  • Engine: 1.4 liter inline 4, DOHC, 16 Valves plus Electric Motor
  • Horsepower: 148hp (gas) + 55hp (electric): 201hp (combined)
  • Torque: 184lb.-ft. (gas) + 243lb.-ft. (electric): 258lb.-ft. (combined)
  • Fuel Consumption: 83 MPGe (combined)/35 MPG(gas only)
  • Price as Tested: $46,655
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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2016 Audi TT Coupe Review

Tuesday February 16th, 2016 at 1:22 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Audi TT Coupe

By David Colman

Hypes: Better and Lighter New Platform
Gripes: S tronic Up shifts Unbidden, Rear Wiper Needed

Welcome to your third helping of Audi’s bantam weight sports car, the TT, named after the Tourist Trophy race in England that Audi dominated back in the 1930s. The first TT made its debut in 1998, with spectacular looking inverted bathtub style coachwork. Ten years later, the second generation TT received a mild makeover that forsook some of the original design’s stubbiness in favor of a more streamlined silhouette. This third makeover for 2016 retains the current corporate trademark of a massive front grill, but leavens the heaviness of that big black snout with some very nice side panel detailing. In particular, the tooling around the pronounced fender arches is enticing. The redesign looks distinguished, if not as forceful or startling as the original.

2016 Audi TT Coupe

The largest deviation from tradition is the complete reorganization of the dashboard and instrument binnacle into a new life form Audi terms “Audi virtual cockpit.” Instead of physical dial faces for the tachometer and speedometer, Audi has introduced digital simulacrums for both gauges which can be resized from large to small at the touch of a button marked “View” on the flat bottom steering wheel. At full size, these virtual gauges occupy as much shelf space as those in the original TT, but when you hit “View,” they reduce to disarmingly small iWatch size displays. Audi has eliminated the central dash mounted display screen of previous TTs and relocated it to the space between the virtual speedo and tach. When you call up Google Earth from the Navigation system (part of a $3,250 “Technology package”), you can display the mapping on the panel directly in front of you. When you minimize the instrument faces with the “View” button, the entire instrument binnacle fills with the map display instead. This is both good and bad. The good is that the map gives you immediate information about your location, including which way the road turns next. The bad is that this information, which is constantly changing in front of your nose, is extremely distracting if you pay attention to it. Audi has managed to provide you with all the trappings of a self driving car here. The only problem is you still have to drive it.

2016 Audi TT Coupe

Now driving the TT is no chore, mind you, because it’s still a rather delectable sports car. The latest version, at just a tad over 3,100 pounds, weighs nearly 100 pounds less than its predecessor. In the scheme of present day sports machinery, the TT is a relative flyweight, especially when you consider its excellent power output of 220hp, and its 258lb.-ft. of torque. The turbocharged 4 cylinder engine will propel you to 60mph from a standstill in 5.4 seconds, with a speed of 98mph @ 13.8 seconds in the quarter mile. Those numbers indicate the TT to be usefully quick in back road passing situations, though I found that the 6-speed “S tronic” twin clutch automatic tended to up shift prematurely, at about 5500rpm, from 2nd to 3rd gear – even though the gearbox was slotted in the Manual mode designed to prevent early up shifts. As a result, 2nd gear expired just when you most needed its punch. A possible answer to this quandary is to opt for the TTS version of this car, equipped with a 292hp turbo 4 making 280lb.-ft. of torque.

2016 Audi TT Coupe

The TT boasts full time “quattro” all-wheel drive. When you combine the grip of AWD with very sticky 245/40R19 Bridgestone S001 radial rubber, mounted on optional ($1,000) “5-arm star design” alloys, you’ve hit on a combo bred to attack back roads. Audi offers four “Drive Select” chassis settings which can be dialed up instantaneously from a paddle switch on the dash. Chose “Comfort” and the TT glides over bumps and leans a bit in turns, while its exhaust note remains unheard. Dial up “Dynamic,” however, and all the suspension settings stiffen to plywood resilience, the exhaust note becomes throatily audible, and the steering response tightens to micrometer precision. Even during heavy rain outings, it was almost impossible to dislodge the quattro T from its trajectory in tight turns. The grip of this newly improved and lighter chassis is simply unimpeachable.

2016 Audi TT Coupe

Yet you can turn the TT back into a boulevard cruiser in an instant by resetting the drive choice system to “Comfort.” In that mode, and with the S tronic gearbox slotted into Drive, the TT assumes a much calmer personality. In fact, it reminds me very much of our family’s Mercedes Benz 250SL, a rather stately and attractive boulevard cruiser entirely lacking sports car handling. The beauty of the newest TT is that you can have it both ways, at just the flip of a switch.

2016 Audi TT Coupe

  • Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4, turbocharged, direct injection
  • Horsepower: 220hp
  • Torque: 258lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 23 MPG City/30 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $50,600
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI FWD S tronic

Wednesday March 11th, 2015 at 4:33 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI FWD S tronic

By David Colman

Hypes: Vault-Like Construction, Stellar Navigation
Gripes: Where Are My Paddle Shifts?

In terms of rave recognition, navigation screens usually rate pretty far down my list of significant features. But after spending some time decoding Audi’s Google Earth-based “MMI Navigation plus package” (a $2,600 option), I was astounded by this system’s stellar leap beyond anything else on the road today. Would you believe a pop-up 8.1 inch full color HD screen that transmits breathtakingly accurate overhead views of the countryside as you travel through it? How about a mind-boggling distance range from 30 yards to 1,500 miles above earth? Would you like to know what to expect at the destination of your trip? Just program an address into the system, and it will present you with a full Google “Street View” image which you can manipulate via the Audi controller to show a full 360 degrees of rotation. You can even adjust the magnification of the image to such a level of close up that it’s possible to read license plate numbers of parked cars! To operate the system, simply dial in your preferred destination, or better yet, scribble it across the face of the controller, and MMI will decipher your handwriting. Never was Audi’s adage about the strength of its technology more appropriate than in regards to this navigation package.

2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI FWD S tronic

The system also happens to be connected to a particularly fine automobile. The Diesel version of the A3 is the least powerful variant you can buy. It makes just 150hp. Compare that to the 3 gasoline engines available in the 3 model range: the base 1.8 liter 4 makes 170hp, the optional 2.0 liter rates 220hp, and the top line S3′s 2.0 liter makes 292hp. So why opt for the puniest motor in the family garage? Torque, mileage and driving range. The Diesel produces a respectable 236lb.-ft. of torque – that’s 36lb.-ft. more than the base gas motor – and it does so from 1700rpm all the way to 3000rpm. The Diesel A3 rates an 8 on the EPA’s scale of 10 for “Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Rating” because it manages 31 MPG around town, 43 MPG on the open road, and 36 MPG in overall driving. You can multiply that figure of 36 MPG by the 13.2 gallons it takes to fill this Front Wheel Drive Audi, to determine an overall cruising range of 400-500 miles per tank. Try as we might to empty the tank of our test A3, we still returned it half full of Diesel after running it continuously for a week. Annual fuel cost is rated at a very modest $1,550 by the EPA.

2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI FWD S tronic

Thanks to Ready Tellers, it’s probably been awhile since you’ve been inside the vault of your local bank branch. But if you miss that consummate feeling of security, just climb into an A3 for a dose of instant vault gratification. Notice how the doors open and shut with military precision. The knurled aluminum grip rings surrounding the ventilation ducts mete air flow with the kind of precision you’d expect to find in a hospital operating room. Even such a minor control as the joystick for adjusting the exterior rear view mirrors responds precisely and accurately to your slightest touch. Audi achieves engineering excellence by mastering a vast accumulation of such seemingly trivial details. Take the cruise control, for example. Many manufacturers these days have managed to over complicate this feature. But Audi, relying on the proven technology of the universal VW stalk system, gives you just four choices: push the button at the end of the stalk in to activate cruise control, push the stalk down to set a speed, push the stalk up to increase speed, and push the stalk towards the front of the car to deactivate cruise. It’s an achingly simple system that many others would do well to emulate.

2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI FWD S tronic

You will discover some strange inconsistencies in the overall layout of the A3 TDI. For example, the suspension system here is definitely calibrated to sport operation. Spring rates are just short of harsh over broken road surfaces, but remarkably well calibrated to keep the chassis level during spirited cornering. The sport-oriented ten-spoke, 18″ alloys, shod with Continental Sport Contact radials (225/50R18) are included in the “A3 Premium Plus model” option group for $2,550. This package also provides heated front seats with 4-way lumbar support, keyless entry and button activated stop/start. So the A3, thusly optioned, rides and handles firmly, like a true German sport sedan. Yet its S tronic 6-speed gearbox, which can be manually controlled, inexplicably lacks steering wheel paddles for full sports driving enjoyment. We also discovered that when you “lock” the gearbox manually into second gear, it will automatically up shift to third at just 3,500rpm. However, when you lock the transmission into third, it will stay put even when you rev the engine to 4,000rpm. Now granted, gear changes don’t play an important role in overall performance thanks to the Diesel’s abundant torque. But still, in a sedan so sportingly configured, the lack of paddle shifts is hard to justify.

The A3 with Diesel power is perfectly suited to long distance touring. Its cockpit is roomy enough for four full size adults and the 13 cubic foot trunk is spacious enough for all their luggage. The spectacular Navigation system will not only insure your arrival at any chosen destination, but even take a picture of each location you visit and save it to memory! The A3 represents the cutting edge of technology. The future arrived yesterday.

2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI FWD S tronic

2015 Audi A3 Sedan TDI FWD S tronic

  • Engine: 2.0 Liter inline 4 cylinder Clean Diesel
  • Horsepower: 150hp @ 3500-4000rpm
  • Torque: 237lb.-ft. @ 1700-3000rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 31MPG City/43MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $38,645
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8T FWD S tronic

Tuesday December 9th, 2014 at 8:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8T FWD S tronic

By David Colman

Hypes: Immaculate Construction
Gripes: If You’re an Enthusiast, Opt for the 220hp AWD Version

Is there a car with a longer formal title than this Audi? Let’s translate its multiple messages. For 2015, Audi has mounted an assault on the entry level luxury market with its new-to-North America A3 line. These trim and diminutive offerings weigh just over 3,100 pounds, measure 175 inches in length, but stretch wheelbase to 104 inches. Available in either sedan, convertible or coming hatchback body style, the A3 promises to be the volume leader in the company’s model line. The Cabriolet we tested means convertible in Audi dialect. Its engine is the near universal VW base power plant, a 1.8 liter inline four fitted with a turbocharger to produce 170hp and 200lb.-ft. of torque. This engine powers the front-wheel-drive (FWD) version of the A3 that holds down the lower rung of the price ladder, with a base cost of $35,600. The driveline includes Audi’s automatic gearbox, a 6 speed unit without paddle shifts that Audi designates “S tronic.” If you elect to move your purchase upscale, the Cabriolet can be equipped with all-wheel-drive, which also includes a significant engine upgrade to a 2.0 liter turbo four good for 220hp and 258lb.-ft. of torque. Only the smaller base motor, however, returns stellar fuel economy: 35 MPG on the highway, 24 MPG around town, and an overall rating of 28MPG.

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8T FWD S tronic

At first blush, it would appear that this A3 Cabrio’s base price is stunningly cheap for such an exotic import from Germany. But once you lavish the base package with what Audi calls its “A3 Prestige model” you’ve bumped that affordable entry level price by a whopping $8,450. If you elect to forego Prestige for pauperism, you will have to do without the following niceties: 18 inch, 10 spoke alloy wheels, heated front seats, power folding and heated rear view mirrors, Audi advanced key, auto-dimming driver side rear view mirror, aluminum interior package, S line exterior trim, LED interior lighting package, auto-dimming interior mirror with compass, Navigation system, Parking system with rear view camera, Bang & Olufsen Sound System and LED headlights with LED daylight running lights. Particularly engaging are the aluminum bits that comprise the interior trim. Horizontally striated strips of silver look terrific decorating the dash and door panels. The S line threshold entry plates add elegance to the interior. And the LED cabin lighting thoughtfully illuminates the speaker enclosures on the door kick panels, and casts just enough illumination into the footwalls to convey a sense of well being. Audi mounts modestly sized (225/40R18) Continental Pro Contact tires on the handsome alloy wheels. All in all, this Prestige upgrade is well worth the stiff tariff.

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8T FWD S tronic

Another upgrade you’d want to consider is the all-wheel-drive configuration powered by the 220hp 2.0 liter motor, because the base 1.8T engine of our test car is just barely adequate to the car’s acceleration needs. Without steering wheel mounted shift paddles, it’s rather difficult to manipulate the S tronic gearbox in manual override mode. Most of the time, you’ll defer to the Drive position and let the 6-speed choose its own up and downshifts. This it does in a habitually lazy manner that is serene but slow. If your driving style tends to be more, rather than less aggressive, opt for the AWD 2 liter turbo A3.

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8T FWD S tronic

This Audi, built in Hungary, with a German gearbox, is beautifully constructed. Its handsome and aerodynamic cloth top drops or rises in just a matter of seconds. With the top raised, this A3 is as quiet as a sedan. When you drop the roof and hold the controller down until the operation is complete, all four windows automatically elevate. Oddly enough, however, when you erect the top, none of the windows shut at the end of the cycle. The interior of this Audi is far more luxurious and finished looking than similar entry level offerings from Mercedes or Lexus. In particular, the detailing is exquisite around the knurled and gimbaled air vents as well as on the Multi Media Interface (MMI) control knob on the central console. There’s a richness to the color and feel of the Chestnut Brown leather interior that belies the A3′s bargain price. Audi proves the point that you do not have to spend more than 50 thousand dollars to enjoy the full benefit of the company’s legendary vault like quality.

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8T FWD S tronic

2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet 1.8T FWD S tronic

  • Engine: 1.8 liter inline 4 turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 170hp @ 4500-6200rpm
  • Torque: 200lb.-ft.@1600-4400rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 24MPG City/35 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $45,525
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2015 Audi A3 1.8T FWD

Wednesday November 19th, 2014 at 12:1111 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 Audi A3 1.8T FWD

By David Colman

Hypes: Best Value Audi of All
Gripes: MMI computer interface system needs work

Shopping for an Audi is like shopping for a suit at Brooks Brothers. Audi’s top line models such as the A8 are equivalent to custom tailored Brooks Brothers dress ware in terms of price and quality. At the other end of the spectrum is their mass produced sedan, our A3 test car. Yes, it too carries the Audi name, but like a Brook Brothers “346″ Outlet Store suit, it offers less costly admittance to the store through the side door. Our A3 is really Audi’s loss leader, with its base price of just $29,900. Even decked out with a smattering of extras (Glacier White Metallic paint for $550, Navigation Plus for $1,900, Cold Weather Package for $500, Aluminum Style Package for $450), this Audi slides out the dealer’s front door for just $34,195. Welcome to your back row balcony seat in the Audi/torium.

2015 Audi A3 1.8T FWD

Conspicuously absent from this A3′s standard fitment is Quattro, Audi’s all-wheel-drive system. The entry level model is a front-wheel-drive sedan, powered by Volkswagen’s turbocharged 1.8 liter inline 4, making 170hp and 200 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine drives the front wheels through an “S Tronic” 6-speed automatic gearbox. If you want Quattro you’ll need to pay $3,000 to upgrade to the 2.0 liter engine and all-wheel-drive version of the A3. If you are familiar with current VW products like the Golf, Jetta and Passat, the A3 will feel very familiar. The 1.8 liter turbo takes some judicious management via the shift lever to deliver maximum thrust. Unfortunately, you can only swap gears manually with the floor stick itself, as the steering wheel lacks paddles for shift changes.

Since the A3′s suspension geometry derives largely from that of the VW Golf, handling is dependably sure footed. Even when the first rains of winter slickened the oily pavement, the A3 stuck to its line through a succession of testy curves. The Audi’s simplified 5-spoke “star design” alloy wheels mount Continental Sport Contact tires (225/45R17) at each corner. Speed sensitive electronic power steering transfers information from the front contact patches of the Continental tires to your hands with informative alacrity.

2015 Audi A3 1.8T FWD

You can perform some neat parlor magic tricks by inserting the ignition key into the slot of the driver’s door and holding it to the right. This will close all open windows and sunroof as well as locking the car. Turn and hold it the other way and you’ll open and unlock all windows and sunroof. The Panorama sunroof is notable for its extravagant size and nicely finished sliding interior shade panel. The front seats are definitely a grade above VW issue. Finished with leather surface, the driver’s seat offers 12 way adjustment, though fore and aft travel is curiously manual. The passenger’s seat makes do with manual adjustment for rake and slide, and both seats could do with more lateral bolster support. The rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 split. The A3 also enjoys a cavernous trunk with a sub-floor compartment for space saver spare, jack and small tool roll. The MMI navigation color display ingeniously pops out of the dash when you start the A3, and becomes the focal point for all your climate, navigation and entertainment needs. In an effort to keep the dash face free of incidental controls, Audi moved nearly all switches to the center tunnel surface between the seats. You will struggle to figure out exactly what the big knob controls without taking your eyes off the road. The system verges on dysfunctional. Relocation of the radio volume knob to the center console is particularly annoying. On the other hand, Audi has produced the very best vent controls in the car business. Each of the 4 gaping supply orifices on the dash face are encircled by knurled aluminum rings that can be twisted to admit more or less air. Absolutely brilliant engineering.

2015 Audi A3 1.8T FWD

The A3, which is built by Audi in Hungary, presents an affordable route to Audi ownership for the new car buyer. For this kind of money, you won’t get Audi’s trademarked Quattro system, but you will enjoy a level of build quality, sleek German Bauhaus design, and responsive performance that is hard to match for the price.

2015 Audi A3 1.8T FWD

  • Engine: 1.8 liter inline DOHC 16-valve 4, turbocharged and intercooled, direct injection
  • Horsepower: 170 @ 6,200rpm
  • Torque: 200lb.-ft. @ 1,600rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 23 MPG City/33 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $34,195
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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2013 Audi allroad Review

Wednesday August 1st, 2012 at 11:88 AM
Posted by: jacolman

By Judy Colman

The hills around Denver, Colorado were alive with music, but not with the voices of the von Trapp family. This music emanates from the humming engines of Audi’s eighth version of their ‘B’ Segment lineup – the Audi A4, S4, A5, S5 and, again, the Audi allroad.

For 2013, Audi reintroduces the allroad, last available in the US in 2005. This new version replaces the A4 Avant in Audi’s model line. Now based on the A4 platform rather than the A6, the new allroad is faster and more energy efficient than its predecessor. A 211 horsepower, 2.0-liter, direct-injection I4, turbocharged engine provides plenty of oomph to tackle the Rockies while still delivering 23 (combined) mpg. 258 lb.-ft. of torque are generated at 1500 rpm. Audi links the 2.0T motor with an eight –speed Tiptronic automatic transmission. A manual transmission is not currently available. We tested quattro, Audi’s permanent all-wheel drive system, when afternoon thunderstorms all but obliterated the roadway. Grip on the slick, mountain curves never wavered on the standard 18-inch wheels shod with 245/45 all season tires.

The 2013 allroad receives the distinctive Audi “Singleframe” grille with vertical chrome struts and angled upper corners. That feature appears also on all ‘B’ Segment cars for a homogeneous look. Newly designed headlamps, fog lamps, side mirrors, taillights, and exhaust add to the fresh appearance. The new allroad’s longer wheelbase adds ride comfort and an additional 1.5 inches of ground clearance. That and a widened track makes off road trekking a little easier. Body cladding, traditionally a matte finished gray/black is also available in full paint finish.

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2012 Audi A4 2.0 Sedan Review

Wednesday May 2nd, 2012 at 8:55 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

For: Understated Good Looks, Practicality, Road Burner
Against: Weenie-looking Brake Discs Revealed by 19” Rotor Wheels

For German manufacturers, the most important racing championship in the world is the DTM. In English, that acronym translates into “German Touring Car Championship,” and every win in this series bestows bragging rights on the company that finishes first. For years now, the winning company has been Audi, and the winning car has been the A4. After spending a week in a well optioned A4, it’s not hard to see why this model wins the DTM so often, over fierce competition from Mercedes, Opel, and now, BMW. A properly equipped A4 is one of the best sports sedans in the world, and also one of the most affordable.

Over the years, the A4 has grown marginally in size, to the point where it’s now nearly as large as its bigger brother, the A6, once was. With an overall length of 185” and a wheelbase of 110” the A4 serves well as a 5 passenger sedan, with enough trunk space and interior room to keep all occupants happy on long trips. Given its 16.9 gallon tank, and highway mileage of 31 MPG, the A4 is capable of traveling over 500 miles between refills. If your A4 is equipped like our test car, you will relish every one of those miles. Let’s start with the base price of just $33,300. That buy-in gets you the base powerplant, a 2.0 liter, turbocharged in-line 4 cylinder motor that produces enough horsepower (211hp) and more than enough torque (258 lb.-ft.) to cope with any driving need. The base package also includes an ultra slick-shifting 6-speed manual gearbox, with well-defined gates between gears, well-chosen gear ratios, and an easily modulated clutch that makes choosing a gear a joy rather than a chore.

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