2006 Audi A3 3.2 quattro 4dr Wagon AWD (3.2L 6cyl 6A)
I cross shopped this car against the Subaru Legacy GT/ WRX, and Audi S4 V8. The Legacy felt bland and the WRX unrefined. While the V8 S4 with it's 300hp was the best motor, the interior was small and the A3's hatchback trumps it for practicality. The A3 S-line comes with all the bells and whistles: Sirius XM, Bluetooth, heated driver and passenger seats, twin glass roofs, self leveling HID lights etc. Audi continues to make cars with handsome interiors. Of course the famed Quattro drive makes winter driving a breeze. Performance is brisk for 250Hp and launches are surefooted with AWD. Brakes haul down the car in an instant with little fade.
This is a drivers car, made for the twisty roads. The A3 DSG is a great improvement over the first generation Tiptronic, in that it is adaptive to your style of driving. In D mode, and cruising along, it will short shift at 1500rpm to conserve revs and save gas. Mash the throttle and the shift points hold until the revs climb higher before selecting the next gear. In S mode, it will shift at redline if you keep the throttle down, plus under braking it performs a rev matched downshift as needed. Of course in M mode, you control all that via paddle shifters to your delight. The chassis is taught and body roll minimal. The 3.2L V6 has enough grunt to keep pace with the likes of WRX's and GTIs.
As with any VW Audi product, maintenance can be costly. Stay on top of issues otherwise trouble items will cascade to a hefty repair bill. Expect to shell out $400 or so for a routine dealer service and up to a grand for major work like the 75K interval. Warranty is highly recommended. The motors themselves take well to tuning. A simple ECU reflash can net you a 10% increase in power. The DSG can be reprogrammed for a sportier gear selection. Reliability is average, due to the familiar VW electrical switchgear, second only to Lucas electrics for their unfailing predisposition to burn out. Quattro drive is complex and can be costly to repair if things go wrong.