You might have already read my post about Audi A3′s “hot swappable” infotainment processor. And while that’s far from a stunning revleation in the tech world, it’s a game changer in terms of the car industry, which has a product cycle of 5 to 8 years. Now, let me tell you about the actual car itself, the A3.
At a glance the A3 could be mistaken for Audi’s slighter larger A4. Rightfully so, at it follows the traditional Audi design language. But if you ask me, I think the 2015 A3 is a better looking ride. The angles are sharper, less muted, and elicits an emotion that might be best described as understated agression. Take an even closer look. Notice the sharp angles throughout the body panels, the low slung front fascia (unchanged with the S packaged checked) and a tail that qualifies for construction worker whistles.
Inside, Audi has both updated and simplified the interior. Gone is the complicated climate system that combines the fan speed and temperature into one knob. It has now been replaced by three knobs; one knob for fan speed, and a temperature knob for each front occupant. There are the usual Audi steering wheel controls, though if you want the paddle shifters you’ll have to throw down a mere $550, which also scores you the front sport seats and Audi’s Drive select. However, the Drive Select in this car is a bit of a moot issue, as there are no dampers, and the accelerator and transmission mapping can be achieved simply by pulling down on the stick one more time when in drive, which puts the A3 into Sport mode. There the gears are held longer, and the accelerator pedal becomes more sensitive, requiring less lead to get moving.
Powering the A3 is either a FWD 1.8l turbo or an AWD 2.0l turbo. They’re entirely different engines, and noticeably so. But before I get into that, you should note that the architecture of the car is front wheel drive. So even in the Quattro version, the car pulls, not pushes, though a differential will ensure smoother takeoffs and gripping as roads permit and influence.
Now, about that 2.0l versus the 1.8l. Yes, there is a difference, but it will largely be moot for those considering the less powerful of the two. For those seeking a bit more kick, sportiness, and all together gumption, well, then one not need look any further than the 2.0l, because it’s just that much better through the windies, hills, and provides just that much more feedback. And it puts out 220hp, 50 more than the 1.8l!
Driving the A3 through the hills of San Francisco, I was surprised by just how little body roll the car has, especially since the A3 behaves so nicely over less than freshly paved roads. As expected, there is understeer, but given the A3′s front wheel drive architecture it’s to be expected, so no shock there.
I’m not a fan of Audi’s Electromechanical steering, and nothing is really changed in the A3. But honestly, it is far less of a concern in the A3 considering it’s not their sportiest car, and is probably just right for the type of driver that would get in this car. What I am a giant fan of, and perhaps a bit too much, is the optional B&O sound system. It’s falls under Audi’s Prestige package. It costs $8,450 if you tick the box, but with it comes their MMI Nav system with Google search (stop by a dealer and try if you haven’t already), Convenience package, Driver Assistance package, S-Line exterior kit, and full LED headlights.
Price? The A3 starts at a few dollars shy of $30,000. All things added and your in it for about $44,000. It’s, needless to say, not a starter car. But with that comes a fully loaded car that seats 4, has room for luggage, and does it in relative luxury and sportiness. That all said, I wish I could give you more feedback in terms of how the car behaved, but alas, I only drove it for the better part of 4 hours.