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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2012 Audi A6 Review – Being practical and passionate all in one

Friday August 12th, 2011 at 12:88 PM
Posted by: mtan

2012 Audi A6
By Ming Tan


  • Great balance – the car did everything well, from managing a mundane highway commute to ripping along a spirited windy road.
  • Styling – you can’t miss the profile of an Audi on the road, and as the first brand to embrace LED lighting technology, the car has a trademark stare. It’s sinister seeing the lights come towards you at dusk.
  • The 3.0 liter supercharged V6 – Audi’s awarding winning engine building skills have paid off again with the supercharged 310hp V6. It’s lively, smooth, and efficient with plenty of get up oomph to hustle down the road, especially considering the size of the car. The 325 ft-lbs of torque are easily accessible at a very reasonable range from 2900 to 4500 RPM.


  • Tire noise – The 19-inch sport package wheel and Pirelli P Zero tire combination proved to be a bit on the noisy side. Depending on road surfaces, the degree of annoyance varied.
  • Somewhat flat seating surfaces – the A6 Sport Package does not come with more aggressively bolstered S-Line seats that come with some other Audi Sport Packages.

Admittedly, I’ve always been an Audi guy. Over the years we’ve owned seven Audis, ranging from the fun to drive yet practical A3 to the vaunted RS4 muscle car. I’ve loved them all. I’ve loved them for their overall feel, comfort, sportiness, heritage, and emotion. And for a period, years ago, they weren’t everywhere on the road.

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2011 Audi Q7 Review

Wednesday July 27th, 2011 at 12:77 PM
Posted by: mash

2011 Audi Q7 S line Prestige
By Mary Ellen Ash


  • Bang & Olufsen Advanced Sound System
  • Quattro permanent AWD
  • Adaptive Suspension
  • Smooth 8-speed Tiptronic automatic transmission
  • High quality parts and attractive styling
  • Power tailgate


  • Complicated Audi MMI navigation system
  • Non-touchscreen capability for 7-inch LCD radio/navigation screen
  • No rear seat DVD entertainment system option
  • Luxury brand price-tag

The Audi Q7 was first released in 2005 and was Audi’s first entrance into the SUV market. Over the years, the German automaker has been tweaking its flagship luxury SUV and it hopes the 2011 model will not disappoint. High quality components and subtle luxurious features give buyers their desired pomp without being overtly gaudy. The top-notch engineering is noticeable throughout the vehicle, and the Q7 is filled with a vast amount of sophisticated luxury items and safety features.

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2012 Audi A7 Review – Sportback? Hatchback? Fastback? Just call it brilliant.

Monday July 18th, 2011 at 9:77 AM
Posted by: AKramer

2012 Audi A7
By Alex Kramer


  • Smooth, powerful supercharged V6
  • Remarkable 8-speed automatic transmission
  • Well-balanced suspension provides comfort and performance
  • Excellent fuel efficiency, especially on the highway
  • Gorgeous, distinctive exterior design
  • Tons of available technology


  • Annoying dashboard squeak
  • Rear legroom a bit cramped
  • Need to order the Sport Package for paddle shifters and sport suspension

Is it a hatchback? A sportback? A fastback? A 5-door coupe? Whatever you want to call it, the new Audi A7 is one magnificent automobile.

That might seem like an overly strong statement with which to open this review, but every now and then a car comes along that just does so many things well that you have to acknowledge its brilliance from the start. And then when it also offers a truly unique design, you have a car that is simply in a class by itself.

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2011 Audi S5 Review – A lot more than just a pretty face

Friday April 29th, 2011 at 2:44 PM
Posted by: twain

2011 Audi S5
By Twain Mein


  • Timeless styling. This is a beautiful car that will age well
  • Steering and road feel
  • Rear wheel bias gives rear wheel drive feel with all wheel drive safety
  • Ride quality


  • Rear seat room is tighter than Houdini’s escape coffin
  • You pay to play at the gas pump
  • Sunroof doesn’t slide back

The Audi S5 is the high performance version of the A5. It features 354hp vs. the A5’s 211, a whopping 67% increase. With this added horsepower, 0-60 times drop from over 6.5 to just under 5 seconds. This performance comes at a price premium, boosting base MSRP from $36.9k to $53.1k while dropping combined mileage (for the manual transmission variants) from 24 to 17mpg.

The model we tested had the upscale “Prestige Package”. The Prestige package adds the Multimedia Interface (MMI), driver seat memory, and parking assist with rearview camera. This car also had several additional options including the “Sprint Blue Pearl Effect” paint ($475), Navigation ($2,550), Sports Rear Differential ($1,100), and the 505-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen premium sound system ($850). These options, coupled with the base price of $53,100, Gas Guzzler tax and destination charge, brought the total to $60,250.

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40 MPG Cars – Affordable and Fuel Efficient

Tuesday March 29th, 2011 at 12:33 PM
Posted by: aquadog

2011 Chevy CruzeWith fuel prices continually rising, 40+ mpg cars are looking like a great option for consumers who can’t afford or don’t want hybrid technology. Without breaking the bank, these affordable fuel efficient cars range from $15,000 to about $20,000 and all provide 40 mpg or more highway mpg driving. Companies that have joined the 40-mpg club are Ford, Honda, Kia, Mazda, Hyundai, Chevrolet, and Smart.

Automakers are achieving the 40 mpg mark by using lighter-weight materials, modern gasoline powered engines with direct injection and six-speed automatic transmissions along with additional fuel-saving technologies such as low-rolling-resistance tires.

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2011 Audi Q5 First Impressions Review – Equipped with a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that packs a punch

Friday March 18th, 2011 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By contributing editor David Colman


  • Price leader in its class
  • No decontenting in performance or luxe due to low price
  • Extremely stable in all conditions


  • Paddle shift would be nice
  • Exterior a tad plain-Jane
  • Mirrors obscure side views

You might succumb to reverse sticker shock because the price of this Audi is so low. Opt for the new-for-2011 turbocharged, 4 cylinder, Q5, and your base price is just $35,200. The 2.0 liter power plant used across the VW/Audi model range in everything from the Golf to the A4 makes its debut in the Q5 this year. Yes, you do lose 69hp by choosing the 211hp turbo 4 instead of the 270hp V6. But that slight concession in power saves you thousands in base price at little cost in ultimate performance. There’s still plenty of pop for passing maneuvers, plenty of quiet for freeway cruising, excellent overall gas mileage (20 city/27highway), and lots of tow capacity (4,400 pounds). Trailer hitch pre-wiring is a nice standard feature.

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