Introduced in the mid-1990s in Europe and brought to the United States in 2006, the A3 is Audi's entry-level model for the North American market. Smaller and lighter than the A4, the Audi A3 presents a strong argument for buying a bargain sport sedan or wagon, provided one goes easy on the options. And just because this is Audi's entry-level car doesn't mean the company cuts corners on quality. The cabin's design and materials are up to the lofty standards Audi has set for the industry, meaning everything fits tightly, moves with precision and looks and feels top-shelf.
Those considering a used version of this junior Audi should know that most of the ones they see for sale will be the wagon, which was the only body style available until 2015. For many the A3 will be an alternative choice -- few luxury automakers bother making small hatchbacks. As such, it's an upscale alternative to more mainstream hatchbacks and a cheaper alternative to a luxury wagon or sedan. Furthermore, with the clean-burning diesel engine option it also makes an extremely-fuel efficient alternative to hybrids. But whether you're considering an A3 wagon or sedan, it offers the distinct German flavor of Audi, that being one of engineering excellence combined with an upscale cabin.
Current Audi A3
Introduced for 2015, the latest version of the Audi A3 comes solely in a four-door sedan body style, although a convertible is rumored to debut within the model year. Initially, there are two main trim levels: the front-wheel-drive 1.8 TFSI and the all-wheel-drive 2.0 TFSI. A diesel-powered TDI version is set to debut later in the model year.
The 1.8 TFSI has a turbocharged 1.8-liter four that produces 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. The 2.0 TFSI has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four with 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come matched to a six-speed automated manual transmission.
Both the 1.8 and 2.0 A3s start off in Premium trim and offer two available packages, dubbed Premium Plus and Prestige. Highlights of the Premium include xenon headlights, a sunroof, leather upholstery, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 10-speaker sound system. The Premium Plus adds keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats. The Prestige features LED headlights, added exterior styling tweaks, power-folding side mirrors, a navigation system, Audi Connect (WiFi hotspot and various smartphone applications) and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Options include a Sport package, adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system and a front collision warning and braking system.
In reviews, we've been impressed with the Audi A3's grown-up personality; it feels more like an honest-to-goodness luxury car rather than a fancy compact. The ride is composed and comfortable, the cabin is quiet and the turbocharged engines provide plenty of punch around town and on the freeway. Superb fuel economy helps as well. Surprisingly, the A3 doesn't feel especially sprightly when driving around town, due to its somewhat light and numb steering feel at lower speeds. However, it perks up when driven with more enthusiasm. Particularly when equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and all-wheel drive, the A3 feels like a running back in bankers' clothing.
Read the most recent 2015 Audi A3 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Audi A3 page.