Stretching 175.5 inches long, 70 inches wide and 55.7 inches tall, the A3 Sedan looks like a shrunken A4 when viewed from the outside. It wears an aggressive look defined by sharp headlights, lightly sculpted flanks, pronounced wheel arches, a discreet spoiler integrated into the rear hatch and triangular tail lamps.
The A3 benefits from Audi's expertise in the field of lightweight construction and the lightest version tips the scale at just 2,755 pounds thanks to a body made largely of hot-formed steel and an aluminum hood. It shares its modular MQB platform with the Europe-only A3 hatchback and several other Volkswagen products including the seventh-gen Golf.
The A3 Sedan is fitted with a clean, uncluttered dashboard that puts a strong emphasis on function. The highlights include understated styling elements such as chrome-ringed air vents and a simple instrument cluster made up of four analog gauges.
The smallest member of the Audi family can carry five adults and up to 15 cubic feet of cargo.
The A3 Sedan can be ordered with Audi's MMI infotainment system at an extra cost. MMI groups the car's entertainment, connectivity and navigation (if equipped) functions into single operating system controlled by either a knob and a series of buttons found on the center console or a voice recognition function. The centerpiece of the system is a high-definition color screen mounted on top of the dashboard.
Another notable high-tech feature offered on the A3 Sedan is Audi connect, a software that provides a Wi-Fi connection and lets passengers find places of interest, travel information, weather reports, fuel prices and even access satellite images from Google Earth.
Under the Hood
The A3 Sedan is available with two four-cylinder gasoline-burning TFSI engines. Both engines run exclusively on premium unleaded. Alternatively, buyers can order a segment-exclusive TDI turbodiesel four-cylinder engine.
With a displacement of 1.8-liters, the smaller unit sends 170 horsepower and 200 lb-ft. of torque to the front wheels via a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. The sprint from zero to 60 mph takes 7.2 seconds and top speed is reached at 130 mph.
The larger 2.0-liter mill generates 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque, enabling the A3 to reach 60 mph from a stop in 5.8 seconds. Power is transferred to all four wheels via the same six-speed dual-clutch transmission that is linked to the smaller engine.
Fuel economy for the 1.8-liter is rated at 23/33 city/highway mpg, while the 2.0-liter is actually slightly more efficient at 24/33 mpg.
The third engine option is a 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel unit that generates 150 horsepower between 3,500 and 4,000 rpms and 236 lb-ft. of torque from 1,750 to 3,000 rpms. It sends the A3 from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds and returns 31 mpg in the city and an impressive 43 mpg on the highway. It is bolted to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission that spins the front wheels only.
Trim level breakdown
Audi offers the A3 Sedan in three trim levels: Premium, Premium plus and Prestige.
Premium comes standard with leather upholstery, a multi-function steering wheel, a panoramic sunroof, a 12-way power driver's seat, a ten-speaker stereo system, a driver information system integrated into the instrument cluster, a 90-day trial subscription to SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Bluetooth connectivity, a SD card slot, automatic wipers and headlights, Xenon headlights, LED tail lamps, power mirrors, parking sensors, a rear-view camera and heated mirrors/washer nozzles.
Stepping up to Premium plus adds automatic climate control, heated front seats, a 12-way adjustable passenger seat, iPod integration as well as keyless start, stop and entry.
Prestige builds upon the first two trims with S line exterior trim, navigation, Audi Connect, an upgraded sound system built by Bang & Olufsen and LED headlights.
A3 premium customers can select a cold weather package, an aluminum trim package and a navigation/infotainment bundle.
Selecting Premium Plus allows buyers to choose from more extras, including the Driver Assistance Package with rearview camera and park assist, an upgraded Bang & Olufsen sound system and a Convenience Package with heated, power-adjustable front seats and park assist. Of note, the navigation system is bundled with Audi Connect on the Premium plus.
Finally, the A3 Prestige can be further upgraded with adaptive cruise control, Audi pre sense front and active lane assist, and with a Sport Package that groups sport seats, a unique steering wheel and selectable driving modes.
All A3 Sedans regardless of trim level and engine come standard with driver and front passenger airbags, knee airbags as well as front and rear side and head curtain airbags.
The list of electronic driving aids includes Multi-Collision Brake (MCB), traction control (ASR), electronic stability control (ESC) and Electronic Brake-pressure Distribution (EBD).
The A3 Sedan's arch rival in terms of price, performance and image is the Mercedes-Benz CLA250. With a 208-horsepower 2.0-liter direct-injected four, the CLA250 slots right in between the two versions of the A3 but buyers seeking all-wheel drive need to step up to the considerably more expensive AMG-tuned model.