In Brief: A small car that’s big on high-tech infotainment, Audi’s new A3 sedan quattro 2.0t s-tronic represents the Ingolstadt premium luxury car maker’s replacement of the popular A3 hatchback in response to market demand.
The 2015 Audi A3 sedan 2.0t quattro showcases cutting-edge technology and connectivity features, bold, handsome styling and the VW-group’s brilliant TFSI turbo four cylinder engine, all wrapped in a stiff, capable chassis based on VW’s most recent MQB small-car platform. The A3 sedan will be followed by the A3 cabriolet, a clean diesel TDI model, and finally the ultra-high performance S3. A hatchback version, available only as the e-tron plug-in hybrid, is slated for release later in 2015.
The A3 sedan’s styling, penned by Danny Garand, represents an evolution of Audi’s signature Bauhaus-inspired design. In person, the car looks classy, purposeful, and compact, with an integrated rear spoiler, sharp character lines, and a creased hood leading down to a tallish trapezoidal grille. It’s very recognizably an Audi, but it’s also definitively new. The A3 stands out from its larger siblings, with an edgier look befitting its younger target demographic.
Aside from its styling, the A3 sedan also offers a multitude of new features aimed at tech-hungry car buyers. It includes the latest-generation of the Audi Connect infotainment system, with the updated MMI which now features 4G-LTE wireless hotspot connectivity- an automotive first. This promises to deliver super-fast access to navigational functions via Google Earth, real-time online traffic information, and the ability to interface with a mobile app allowing passengers to view videos and make conference calls through the vehicle’s screen and speakers.
As befits the A3 sedan’s market positioning, it also has numerous options for social-networking while on the road. The Audi Connect system features read-aloud Twitter feed and Facebook status updates.
The Bang & Olufsen sound system provides great quality; the seats are supportive, especially with the optional sport package, and the interior has a high-quality, premium feel. Workmanship is excellent, with Audi’s usual attention-to-detail and fit-and-finish evident throughout. Our cuba-blue premium edition tester also came with a smoked glass panoramic sunroof, Audi Xenon plus front lights, and leather seating surfaces with a 12-way power driver’s seat.
But how does it drive? Infotainment technology is all well and good, but in order to thrive in a segment long-defined by drivers’ cars from the likes of BMW, the A3 has to deliver an engaging on-road experience. And (good news for those of us who enjoy a spirited canyon run) it does. The electro-mechanical steering is light but precise, the turbocharged engine is powerful and refined, and the chassis is as planted as anything this side of an RS4. Audi did an excellent job with the ride-and-handling tradeoffs on the A3, though the sport package with its 18″ wheels and 40-series tires makes the car markedly more sure-footed. The TFSI engine is a solid performer, with 0-60 times estimated at 5.5 seconds, which should make it just a hair quicker than an automatic-equipped BMW 328i. The only transmission available on the A3 at launch is Audi’s twin-clutch DSG unit- which is fine since it one of the most responsive, least-frustrating two-pedal gearboxes on the market. We were, however, puzzled by the lack of paddle-shifters on our test-car, but then again Audi seems to think most of the A3’s buyers will never take the car out of “drive” or use the twin-clutch DSG transmission to its full-potential. It’s worth noting that for 2015, sport package equipped A3s will allow the driver to customize throttle-mapping and transmission shift-points. The 2015 A3 sedan is designed to be frugal as well as quick, with the 2.0T engine delivering 24 mpg in the city and 33 mpg on the highway according to EPA estimates.
Despite the lack of push-start, paddle-shifters or a back-up camera, features we’ve come to expect at this price range, the A3 sedan is a lovable automobile for city-dwellers.
Learn about the design concept of the A3 Sedan and see more photos in this gallery.