The 2015 Audi A3 builds on its predecessor's success with a new lightweight platform and an improved interior.
Sharp style in compact package; upscale interior; enjoyable driving dynamics; high fuel efficiency from diesel engine.
Body style limited to sedan -- for now; hopefully improved navigation controls.
The 2015 Audi A3 is an all-new redesigned model.
The next-generation Audi A3 destined for American shores will not be the four-door hatchback that we've come to know, but a small sedan instead. It's an unconventional move from Audi, yet the automaker clearly hopes to win hearts, minds and dollars by positioning the 2015 Audi A3 as a premium compact four-door.
Europeans, meanwhile, will see the reverse order, first getting a look at two-door hatchback and convertible versions, with the sedan to possibly arrive as a 2015 model. Whether American buyers eventually get the convertible is unknown, although Audi has already queried its social networks to gauge interest. Audi has confirmed a hatchback for the U.S., however, in the form of the A3 Sportback plug-in hybrid. The gas-electric powertrain will generate 204 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. This might win over the hybrid-inclined, but we wonder if Audi can afford to withhold a conventional gasoline hatchback given the popularity of the current A3 hatch.
The 2015 Audi A3 will be based on a new lightweight platform designed for front- and all-wheel-drive applications. This same platform will also underpin the next Golf and several future VW products. Compared to the current A3, the new model is slightly longer for improved proportions and interior space.
In the U.S., the A3 will offer three turbocharged four-cylinder engines: a 1.8-liter making 170 hp, a 2.0-liter (power figures announced closer to launch) and a 2.0-liter diesel generating 150 hp. All three engines join a six-speed automated manual dual-clutch transmission. The A3 will also offer Audi's four-mode Audi drive select, which allows the driver to choose one of four modes that adjust throttle response, steering effort and shift points.
A natural-gas version is reportedly in the works, and there's also the possibility of the all-electric A3 reaching full production -- a not-so fantastical notion given the current availability of BMW's 1 Series-based ActiveE. For pure performance, an S3 variant with higher output from the 2.0-liter will also be available.
The 2015 A3's interior should get a push further upmarket, offering standard leather upholstery, a panoramic sunroof, Bluetooth, an MMI navigation system, a WiFi hotspot connection, a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system and even a cell phone booster antenna. Audi's pre-sense safety system, which preloads the brakes and seatbelts when it senses an impending collision, comes standard, while options include blind-spot warning and adaptive cruise control.
Audi says the sedan will arrive in dealer showrooms early next year. Expect the sticker price to hover around $30,000, a couple thousand more than the outgoing model. Check back for a full review of the 2015 Audi A3, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.
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