2015 Audi A3: I'd Take It Over the Volvo S60
June 1, 2015
We have three entry-level luxury sedans in our long-term fleet right now: the Acura TLX, the 2015 Audi A3 and the 2015 Volvo S60. I haven't driven our TLX yet, but I've spent more than a week in both the A3 and S60. I like them both, but of the two, I'd buy the A3. Here's why.
Most of my decision comes down to price and driving experience. Both cars are on the less expensive side of luxury sedans. Our A3 rang up at $39,745, while the S60 was priced at $46,975. Our S60 T6 offers more luxury and safety features as well as the 302-hp engine upgrade, so there's value behind the higher price. Add those missing features to our A3 and it'd still cost less than the Volvo (although you can bring the two closer in price by opting for the S60's less-expensive T5 (240 hp) engine).
Even with its upgraded engine, however, our S60 posted slower acceleration times than the A3 in our testing. The S60 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds and cleared the quarter-mile in 14.3 seconds. In contrast, the A3 had 5.6-second and 14.0-second times, respectively.
Our A3's times were based on using the car's launch control system, which certainly takes advantage of the car's all-wheel-drive traction. You could argue that the A3's acceleration time with the traction-control system turned on (6.7 seconds) is a more real-world number. In my experience, I'd say the S60 feels stronger just driving around town, but not dramatically so.
I prefer our A3 for the way it goes around turns. It feels sharper and more nimble. It's a car I'd purposely take on a deserted back road to have some fun. The S60 is capable but just doesn't spark the same enthusiasm. For long-distance driving, both cars are quiet and composed. Volvos are known for having fantastic front seats, but I'd have to agree with Mike Magrath that the S60's don't fit quite right. The S60 does have a little more room for rear seat passengers and a slightly bigger trunk, though.
There's a lot of parity elsewhere. Both interior designs are quite nice. Both cars earn top safety scores across the board. The technology display interfaces operate in a similar fashion. But in the end, the A3 is the car that intrigues me more. If you're shopping for a luxury sedan in the $40,000 range, I highly recommend it.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor