2015 Audi A3: Nimble Handling
April 1, 2015
I've driven our 2015 Audi A3 quite a few times the past three months. Most of that time has been spent commuting, kid schlepping and general life stuff. But occasionally I've zipped through a turn quickly and thought to myself, "Dang, this thing is pretty capable."
Just yesterday I made a special trip on some lightly- trafficked roads to learn more about the A3's handling characteristics in further detail.
The A3 might be Audi's least expensive sedan, but it's actually a rather brilliant sport sedan. First of all, it's small and relatively light weight as 2015 luxury sedans go. A co-worker and I were recently talking about how the A3's proportions seem similar to those of the first- generation A4, so I looked up the specs.
A 2015 A3 has a wheelbase of 103.8 inches and a curb weight of 3241 pounds (3,347 as-tested for our car). A 1996 A4 is listed with a 102.6-inch wheelbase and a curb weight of 3,228 pounds.
The A3's small size and relatively light weight contribute to the car's ability to feel nimble around corners. I also find it interesting that the A3 shares some DNA with the new Volkswagen GTI, another car we've come to find quite capable for handling. There must be some magic in those bones.
But there's no doubt that the A3 is a fun car. Around medium-speed turns, it stays pretty flat and inspires driver confidence. You get a feel for how the car is reacting as it approaches its handling limits. And with the A3's all-wheel drive, it's easy to put the power down exiting tight turns.
Part of the car's appeal can also be credited to the steering. Our A3 is equipped with the Sport package, which includes the Drive Select feature that includes adjustable modes for the steering assist, transmission shift programming and gas pedal responsiveness. I prefer the sportiest Dynamic mode for the steering. It makes the car quick to respond to steering inputs, but still feels linear and predictable. I also like the way the steering wheel fits in my hands.
Finally, our Audi A3's tires are respectably grippy. Had I not actually looked to find out what they are, I could have guessed that our A3's all-season 225/40R18 Continental ProContacts were actually summer- rated given how little noise they make as cornering speeds build. In testing, the A3 posted a .87g rating on the skidpad. That's not sports-car-with-summer-tires territory, but it's certainly enough to have plenty of fun on a curving road.
Overall, the new A3 continues to impress.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,322 miles