This Audi A3 video review includes information about price, fuel economy, comfort, performance, standard features and trunk space. We discuss its competitors as well as its 1.8T, TDI and 2.0T Quattro models. For more information, read the 2015 Audi A3 review.
The Audi A3 is one of several smaller and more fuel-efficient cars that make up the new compact luxury car segment. However, it's the only one we presently recommend because it comes the closest to matching the quality, equipment and driving experience of its bigger, more elite siblings.
It certainly looks like them on the outside. Inside, not so much, but that's more than OK. There's an ultra-clean minimalism to it that makes just about every other car look overwrought and cluttered. At the same time, the materials are in keeping with Audi's superb standards.
Other standard features include leather, a power driver seat, xenon headlights and a 10-speaker sound system. You have to pay extra for stuff like that in bigger, more expensive luxury sedans.
Now, this is a small car, so the backseat is less spacious than those in bigger sedans. If you don't lug around friends very often, that won't be a problem, but there's a better chance the tiny trunk will be. Its 10 cubic feet of space is less than you'll get in some coupes, and it struggles to fit a golf bag or a road trip's worth of luggage.
Not counting the high-performance S3, there are three fuel-efficient engines available. The 170-horsepower 1.8-liter should be more than enough for most car shoppers. To get all-wheel drive, though, you have to step up to the 220-hp 2.0-liter that accelerates from zero to 60 mph in a rapid 5.8 seconds. Better yet, it gets the same fuel economy as the 1.8T.
For even better efficiency, the A3 TDI has a diesel engine that's good for an estimated 36 mpg combined. The TDI will also eventually be the only A3 available as a four-door hatchback.
Regardless of which engine it has, the A3 is sporty without being in your face about it. The ride is comfortable, the cabin is quiet and generally, everything has that solid German feel to. If anything, it can almost be a little too subdued when driven around town. But it proves to be a very playful little car out on a back road, with quick steering, well-balanced handling and the available grip of all-wheel-drive.
Really, everything about the A3 is grown-up and sophisticated, and certainly feels like a bona fide member of the Audi family. The Mercedes CLA, by comparison, feels like a distant cousin with its rough ride, wonky transmission and so-so cabin quality. The difference between these two competitors is really night and day, and in an Edmunds comparison test between them the A3 easily won. It is a class-leader to be sure.