2015 Audi A3 Long-Term Road Test: Introduction
October 23, 2014
What Did We Get?
Most new cars these days are bigger, heavier and more expensive than the models they replace. Eventually this type of evolution creates a new space for smaller, less expensive models, an opportunity that luxury automakers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and now Audi are all too happy to fill.
The all-new 2015 Audi A3 is just such a vehicle. Previously available only as a hatchback, the A3 now comes solely as a four-door sedan in the United States (at least for now). It slots in below the A4 sedan in terms of size and price and can be had with a choice of one of three engines: a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder or a 2.0-liter turbodiesel. All engines are paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.
After giving the Mercedes-Benz CLA a try for a year, we figured the new A3 would be an interesting follow-up. With a base price of just over $30K, the A3 costs roughly the same and offers similar equipment and space. But does it offer something the Mercedes doesn't?
What Options Does It Have?
We began by equipping our A3 with the larger of the two four-cylinder gas engines. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivers 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque and is packaged with Audi's Quattro all-wheel-drive system. We felt the extra power and AWD was worth the $3,000 option price.
We also went with Premium Plus trim, which adds 18-inch wheels, heated front seats and side mirrors, and aluminum interior trim. Premium Plus increases the bottom line by $2,550.
We ticked the box for MMI Navigation plus ($2,600), a package that marries a single-CD/DVD player radio with a navigation system, in-car 3G/4G WiFi and touchpad controller. We have a hard time saying no to front sport seats and shift paddles, and the Sport package ($800) adds both along with a sport suspension.
All in, our new A3 rang in at $39,745, considerably more than our CLA. And since we got it on loan from Audi, there was no negotiating the price down.
Why We Got It
Like the CLA, the new A3 is part of an emerging class of small, luxury sport sedans that start right around the $30K mark. They not only offer smaller, more efficient options for traditional luxury buyers, they also offer a compelling alternative for more traditional buyers who might otherwise opt for a loaded version of a mainstream family sedan for the same price.
Of course, we don't add a car to our fleet just to get a complete picture of a segment. That's where the "A" rating we gave the A3 comes into play. Aside from the tight quarters inside, we gave glowing remarks to nearly every other aspect of the little sedan. The A3 performed admirably during heavy acceleration and braking and we found plenty of fun in tackling twisty roads.
The Audi A3 looks to be at the top of its class, but questions remain that we will answer during its time with us. Will the backseats prove to be useful to anyone taller than 5 feet? Is the 2.0T/Quattro combo worth the extra cash? And how does it stack up against its closest-priced competitor, the hugely successful 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250?
We have 12 months and 20,000 miles to find out. Follow along on the Long-Term Road Test Updates page as we tool around in this Audi for the masses.
Best MPG: 33.4
Worst MPG: 23.0
Average MPG over 1,853 miles: 29.2
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.