If you need a compact sedan with AWD, the Audi A3 Quattro is a sensible choice. We have had several examples of Audi’s smaller sedans and they never fail to disappoint. A completely new A3 is coming next year, but something tells us they won’t change the formula by much. To remind us of what is offered in their entry level, Audi sent us a fully loaded A3 Prestige for a week of quattro excitement. You might be quick to point out the shocking similarities to the Jetta, but there are differences in the details. You won’t find 19” titanium finished wheels, panoramic sunroof, or Bang & Olufsen audio in the VW. On our urban test loop, the A3 performed as expected. The latest version of VW’s 2.0L turbo four offers 220 hp and a chunky 258 lb-ft of torque. Sent to all wheels via the legendary quattro system once the turbo spools, it makes for a competent daily driver. The transmission is a six-speed dual clutch S tronic which is light years beyond the old automatics and the terrible CVT. Shifts are soft but quick, and shift points are well mapped to keep the turbo spinning.
Yes the A3 has a starting price of $34,300, which is a bargain compared to other luxury sedans. But all of the features that allow it to compete on the world stage are bundled into the prestige package for only an additional $8,850. It includes lane departure, adaptive cruise control, and color instrument display. The notion that Ingolstadt will build you an A3 without this content is humorous, but other luxury brands are guilty of the same treachery. The MSRP measures in at $45,575, but that price is probably negotiable since the new generation will be arriving soon. For that price you will receive State-of-the-art safety and stability systems along with a quiet ride. If you need your back seats on a daily basis, the A4 might be a more practical option, but A3 is a solid choice for the commuter or college student. Stay tuned for the 2017 model in a month or two.