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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Audi A3 Sedan Concept to be Shown at Geneva Motor Show

Tuesday February 22nd, 2011 at 9:22 AM
Posted by: aquadog

Audi A3 Concept Notchback SedanAudi has released a few sketches of its A3 concept sedan version that is bound for the upcoming Geneva Motor Show. Audi describes the A3 concept as a “four-seater notchback sedan” that will measure 174.84 inches long (4.44 meters), which is about six inches longer that the current A3 model. The redesigned A3 also promises a little extra power and more premium features. The A3 concept car features a 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder, 408-horsepower engine, a seven-speed S-tronic twin clutch transmission, Audi’s quattro AWD system, LED headlamps, a trapezoidal grille, and an arching roofline and low C-pillar for a coupe-like appearance.

Illustrations after the jump.

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2009 Audi A3 Review – Compact, but capable sport wagon

Tuesday June 16th, 2009 at 8:66 AM
Posted by: peter

2009 Audi A3
>> Review by Peter Newton | >> Photos by Derek Mau

Pros

  • Taut and controlled handling
  • Roomy cargo for a compact car
  • Cool-looking LED DRLs
  • Just above average Bose sound system

Cons

  • Too few controls available on steering wheel
  • Sunroof cover did not fully block light
  • Trip/car computer non-intuitive
  • No iPod integration

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2009 Audi A3 2.0T S-tronic Quattro – First Impressions

Friday May 15th, 2009 at 9:55 AM
Posted by: twain

2009 Audi A3
Review by Twain Mein

Pros

  • Zippy and economical 2.0T
  • Smooth shifting S-tronic gearbox (a.k.a. DSG)
  • Audi’s ├╝ber-cool LED daytime running lights
  • Magnificent suspension setup and Audi ride quality

Cons

  • Pricey with options
  • Back seat legroom worse than flying Economy Class on Southwest

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