2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro Sedan (2.0L 4-cyl. Turbo AWD 6-speed Automated Manual)
Driven On 2/22/2014
The 2014 Audi A3 expertly balances comfort, luxury and performance in a compact package at a relatively affordable price. It delivers a high level of refinement and exceeds our expectations for an entry-level luxury sedan. On the downside, there's limited rear-seat space and trunk capacity.
PerformanceWith 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the A3 provides plenty of power to accelerate with purpose yet still returns good fuel economy figures. Handling is noteworthy, with a direct feel and cornering that's both entertaining and reassuring.
There's some hesitation from a standstill, but once underway thrust from the turbocharged 4-cylinder is impressive, reaching 60 mph in a class-leading 5.8 seconds. The all-wheel drive gives plenty of grip.
In panic braking there's little nosedive and the car tracks straight. It needed 118 feet to stop from 60 mph, which is better than average for the class and remained consistent after several runs.
Steering effort is light, making parking lot maneuvers easy, but still conveys direct feedback to the driver. On winding roads, it is predictably precise and further instills confidence.
The A3 feels light and athletic in curves. The Quattro AWD system makes the most of available grip and the well-tuned suspension gives it a balanced, reassuring feel.
Despite its compact appearance the A3 is surprisingly wide, yet still easy to maneuver in tight spaces thanks to its light steering. It tackles the everyday commute with ease.
ComfortThis is the kind of front seat comfort that we've come to expect from larger and more expensive sedans. Furthermore, the A3 manages this without sacrificing performance. The rear seats are cramped, but no more than other cars in this class.
Front seats are roomy and comfortable even after several hours of touring. They do lack some side bolstering, though. Rear seat space is restrictive and suitable for smaller passengers only.
The A3 finds a remarkable balance between cornering confidence and a compliant ride that smoothes over most road imperfections. Larger undulations can cause some uneasy jostling.
Road and wind noise are detectable on the highway, but never intrusive, even on rough pavement. There's some diesel-like clatter on start-up due to the direct injection, but the idle quickly smoothes out.
InteriorLike all Audis, the A3 sports an austere interior design, and that's a good thing. Tasteful aluminum accents, excellent material quality and a generous features list make this car feel anything but entry level.
Controls are placed exactly where you'd expect them, especially the MMI controller with handwriting recognition. The central screen rises from the dash for easy viewing, with sharp graphics and intuitive menus.
Front seat access is easy even in tight spaces thanks to a tall opening and doors that aren't too long. Rear access is decidedly less simple, requiring some twisting and stooping to get in.
Front seats are roomy enough for taller passengers, but the rear seats lack the head and legroom needed for the average adult. Only small folks could possibly find comfort back there.
Forward visibility is excellent thanks to narrow roof pillars -- a rarity in modern cars. Rear visibility is good enough that you could get by without the optional backup camera.
The A3's trunk is the smallest in the class with only a 10 cu-ft capacity. Large golf bags or long clubs will require folding the rear seats down. Interior storage is also on the small side.
ValueAt $30,795 the base A3 price is virtually identical to the Mercedes-Benz CLA250. The CLA has better fuel economy and a larger trunk, but its transmission lacks refinement and the rear seats are even tighter. The A3 is definitely more engaging to drive.
Build Quality (vs. $)
All interior surfaces in the A3 are well textured for an upscale look and feel. Every knob and switch has a distinct heft and click, and the car just feels sturdy.
As options are added, the Audi A3's price remains reasonably close to the CLA250's, with some packages pushing one car's tally past another's. The A3 benefits from AWD, which will soon be available on the CLA.
Even with the 2.0-liter engine with AWD and options like navigation, heated seats and upgraded interior trim, our A3's as-tested price of $36,645 is still lower than a similarly equipped front-drive CLA250.
EPA estimates of 27 mpg Combined (24 City/33Hwy) seem attainable judging by the 33.7 mpg we achieved on our highway-heavy evaluation loop. Exuberant driving dropped our overall average to just 21.5 mpg.
Unlike Mercedes, the Audi's first scheduled maintenance is free. Both offer 4 years of 24-hour roadside assistance. Prepaid scheduled maintenance is available at extra cost.
Fun To DriveThe 2015 Audi A3 with the 2.0-liter turbo and obligatory all-wheel-drive is incredibly fun to drive on twisting mountain roads. It is impeccably balanced, with equal levels of performance and trust. It's as entertaining as the more expensive Mercedes CLA45 AMG.
Despite the A3's potential for performance, it remains well mannered in normal driving conditions and places few demands on the driver. On the whole, it delivers more than we expected.
The 2015 A3 is unmistakably Audi in its execution, which is to say understated in style, more focused on driver engagement and embracing cutting-edge technology.