Read the 2015 Audi A3's introduction to our long-term fleet.
See all of the 2015 Audi A3's long-term updates.
What We Got
Originally introduced to the U.S. market as a four-door hatchback, the 2015 Audi A3 arrived as a sedan in the hopes of attracting more American buyers. Along with its new shape, the latest A3 also showed up with a sub-$30K starting price. That put the new entry-level Audi directly in the crosshairs of the similarly priced Mercedes-Benz CLA sedan, a vehicle that we had just retired from our long-term fleet. Slotting the new A3 into the mix was the perfect way to find out if it was a better deal than the Benz or a completely different animal altogether.
We had choices when building our A3. Of the three available engine options (1.8-liter turbo, 2.0-liter turbo or 2.0-liter turbodiesel) we decided on the 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gasoline variant. It generated 220 horsepower and was paired with a six-speed dual-clutch automatic and all-wheel drive.
We chose the Premium Plus trim, which added 18-inch wheels, heated front seats and aluminum trim accents for an extra $2,550. The MMI Navigation Plus option added in-car WiFi and a touchpad for $2,600. And the $800 Sport package rounded out the list of extras with sport front seats and wheel-mounted paddle shifters.
The total MSRP on our 2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro S tronic sedan was $39,745. That's roughly $4 grand more than our CLA250. See for yourself below if it was worth the premium.
"It's powerful enough to feel fast, but not so strong that it's constantly straining the rest of the drivetrain. Everything feels perfectly refined and smooth. The throttle response, the transmission shifts and even the all-wheel-drive system are all tuned to perfection." — Ed Hellwig
"The A3 is really compliant, and doesn't get knocked around by bumps like the CLA. Even big impacts do little to unsettle this small sedan. Where the CLA's ride tuning feels nervous and unfinished, the A3's has polish." — Jason Kavanagh
"I absolutely love the HVAC system in our long-term A3. Three simple knobs to control what should be a simple operation. Simply wonderful. Turn the knob closest to you to change the temperature. That little knob in the middle controls the fan speed or turns the system off. The knob on the passenger side controls the passenger temperature. These functions can be done without taking your eyes off the road. Three cheers for simple." — Matt Jones
"The 2015 Audi A3 has the best dash vents in the history of dashboards. Seriously, it does. These little ducts are adjustable in any direction, consume minimal dash space and can be completely shut off by turning the chrome trim ring." — Josh Jacquot
"The A3's suspension tuning delivers a nice balance of control and comfort. And that's with our car's optional Sport package that includes a sport-tuned suspension. Even if you pick the Sport package, you don't have to worry about it crashing over big bumps or potholes. That package includes sport front seats, and I've found them to be very comfortable and supportive." — Brent Romans
"We can't ask much more from the A3. It's quiet and rides superbly. Neither of us is uncomfortable after several hours in these seats. The engine has plenty of sauce for overtaking and the cruise control is easy to monitor and adjust. The A3 does a fine impersonation of a full-size, cross-country sedan." — Dan Frio
"I pushed through rush hour and Electric Daisy Carnival traffic and crashed in my hotel room for much-needed sleep. The next morning, I gassed up the A3 and headed home. Fuel economy from Ely to Las Vegas was 29.6 mpg, nearly matching my Boise-to-Twin Falls fill." — Cameron Rogers
"Our first fuel stop came in the tiny High Sierra town of Bridgeport, California, after some 335 miles. Several roads come together here, but there's no fuel around for miles. The pump prices absolutely reflect that. We added 11.462 gallons of premium after completing the opening leg at 29.2 mpg while battling a sometimes-stiff headwind and a steady uphill climb." — Dan Edmunds
"The Audi's trunk was big enough. All four 15-by-8.5-inch wheels fit in the A3's trunk, which Audi says offers 10 cubic feet of space. There wasn't much room remaining, but there was plenty of height to spare." — Scott Oldham
"This smaller A3 trunk simultaneously holds one large international checked-baggage suitcase and one carry-on roller bag, the kind that fits into a 737's overhead compartment. Remove the large international bag and the A3's trunk will hold three carry-on bags." — Dan Edmunds
Audio and Technology
"One bit of trickle-down tech benefiting our junior 2015 Audi A3 is a power hideaway infotainment screen. Press a button and it quickly tucks into the dash. The feature is neat. It's clean. It's smooth. And it's not long for this world." — Carlos Lago
"I had a CD going in the glovebox player, and it was 21 seconds into Shovels and Rope's 'Kemba's Got the Cabbage Moth Blues' when the song stopped and a high-pitched warning sound reverberated throughout the cabin?. This went on for a minute or two, and then suddenly the Audi's infotainment screen retracted into the dash." — Mike Monticello
"A few hundred miles before our A3 cleared 5,000 miles, the car started providing notifications in the gauge cluster display that a service would soon be due. This would be our A3's first service and includes an oil change and tire rotation. Audi pays for the first service, too." — Brent Romans
"I immediately jumped out of the passenger door and poked my head under to see what had made that horrible sound. I watched as hot oil gushed out from what I presumed was a hole in the oil pan. Lots of oil. Nearly all of it, in fact. Game over. Tow Truck City." — Dan Edmunds
"While driving to my brother's wedding in the Bay Area this past Saturday, I blew a tire in our long-term A3. The good news is that I was only about 100 yards away from my destination when I heard the 'BLAM' that threatened to put a damper on what promised to be an awesome weekend." — Matt Jones
"Texas. The unending plains state. Vast. Huge. Maybe the only state in the nation more self-absorbed than California. It's ironic that we're here to pick up one of Audi's most diminutive models in America." — Dan Frio
Maintenance & Repairs
Routine service on the A3 was due at 5,000 miles and then in 10,000-mile intervals after that. The first visit was complimentary as long as it occurred within the first 12 months of ownership. As we learned at 15,000 miles, scheduled maintenance costs then ramp up quickly. We paid $379 for that service but it wasn't our only out-of-pocket A3 expense.
Additional maintenance costs on the Audi added another $1,399. An unfortunate parking incident set us back $746 and a tire blowout increased the damage by another $653, once the dust settled. The only other item outside of normal maintenance was the replacement of the natural vacuum leak detection (NVLD) sensor, which fell under warranty.
A fuel pump recall was issued on 2015 A3s in the past year but did not apply to our vehicle. This was the only open A3 campaign during our test.
Fuel Economy and Resale Value
Observed Fuel Economy:
EPA fuel economy estimates for the A3 sedan were 27 mpg combined (24 city/33 highway). We averaged 26.2 mpg during our test. Our best single tank got up to 35.1 mpg and our best single tank of range covered 418 miles.
Resale and Depreciation:
Our Audi A3 had an as-tested MSRP of $39,745. After one year and 20,305 miles Edmunds' TMV® Calculator valued the sedan at $29,091, based on a private-party sale. That reflected 27 percent depreciation. For comparison, our 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250 and 2013 Cadillac ATS depreciated 16 and 25 percent, respectively.
Pros: Excellent highway stability, front seat comfort and a quiet cabin make this a great long-distance cruiser despite its size. The 2.0-turbo engine provides excellent performance and predictable mileage. High levels of interior quality were evident even at this price. First scheduled service was free.
Cons: Limited trunk space, base model has minimal features, out-of-warranty maintenance is expensive.
Bottom Line: It may be Audi's entry-level sedan, but the new A3 is still a proper luxury car. From the way it drives on the highway to the design and construction of the cabin, every aspect of the A3 is well executed. In the growing segment of compact luxury sedans, this new A3 is one of the best.
|Total Body Repair Costs:||None|
|Total Routine Maintenance Costs:||$379.38 (over 12 months)|
|Additional Maintenance Costs:||$1,398.53|
|Warranty Repairs:||Replace NVLD sensor|
|Non-Warranty Repairs:||Replace oil sump, oil pan baffle, gasket, drain plug, oil filter and oil as a result of damage, new non-matching tire after blowout, two more new matching tires to bring it back to original specification.|
|Scheduled Dealer Visits:||2|
|Unscheduled Dealer Visits:||1|
|Days Out of Service:||5|
|Breakdowns Stranding Driver:||None|
|Best Fuel Economy:||35.1 mpg|
|Worst Fuel Economy:||17.8 mpg|
|Average Fuel Economy:||26.2 mpg|
|True Market Value at service end:||$29,091 (private-party sale)|
|Depreciation:||$10,654 (27% of original MSRP)|
|Final Odometer Reading:||20,305 miles|
The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.