When we heard we would have a week with a new Audi A3, visions of sporty wagons filled our minds. In order to compete with the CLA and 2 Series, the wagon version has been dropped in favor of a new compact sedan.
The interior is unmistakably Audi. Our Spartan test model was the “Premium” edition and it serves as the entry level A3. We found the cockpit festooned with blank buttons that serve to remind the driver of all the options available on the upper trim levels. Premium Plus and Prestige models have all the bells and whistles, but their included content can be added individually to the Premium, albeit at a premium price. Sometimes less is more, and for a driver looking for the classic Audi formula (turbo + quattro® AWD) it was nice to not be overloaded with content.
Entertainment is handled by the new MMI touch system. It integrates a touchpad into the control wheel for a more useful interface. Two large cup holders are placed in front of the shifter and are hidden by an outcropping of the dash. Anything larger than a medium drink will make contact with the A/C control panel, making for a sticky situation.
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Handling is where A3 really shines. The latest generation of quattro all wheel drive may seem like overkill in Florida, but having the ability to stay glued to the road in any situation leads to a fun experience. Compared to the stiff and unapologetic demeanor of Audi’s past suspensions, the A3 is asking you to relax and forget you are in a performance minded AWD sedan. Cornering is flat thanks to beefy sway bars and a mostly aluminum chassis, which is how the fully loaded 1.8L model weighs in at a svelte 2,900 lbs.
Power comes from the 2.0 TFSI turbo four that is also found in almost all VW models. The turbo comes on quickly, producing chunky mid-range torque. If you need that power off the starting line, brake boosting will launch the A3 like a quattro-crazed slingshot. Horsepower of 220 and torque of 258 lb-ft might not seem motivating, but the engine is a perfect match for the lightweight Audi. Our A3 had a sticker price of $37,195 and lacked common amenities such as a powered passenger seat and dual zone climate control, but this is a driver’s car. If you need a small and nimble German sedan, the A3 might be your next car.