The Audi A3 is a compact hatchback that is the German automaker's smallest and least expensive model sold in North America. The A3 gives those seeking entry-level luxury an attractive option with pricing that is still obtainable to a large portion of the market, while also offering efficiency-minded buyers the option of a 42 mpg diesel engine.
For the latest model year Audi has given the A3 its second minor update since the current model was first released. The refresh includes minor visual changes such as chrome accents on the door handles, air intakes and side mirrors, while the rear of the vehicle also enjoys a revised diffuser and slightly tinted taillights.
The four-door hatchback comes standard with a 200 horsepower 2.0 liter inline-four engine, which achieves peak output between 5,100 and 6,000 rpm. Max torque of 207 lb-ft is available from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm. This engine is good for 21 city, 30 highway miles per gallon with front-wheel drive.
The other engine option comes in the form of a 2.0-liter TDI - which of course is a diesel engine. This powerplant provides 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, while returning 30 city and 42 highway miles per gallon, according to the EPA.
Customers have the choice of a regular six-speed manual transmission or a six-speed DSG gearbox, which provides high-speed shifts without a clutch pedal. Gear changes are made via paddle shifters mounted behind the steering wheel. The DSG (aka S-tronic) transmission can also operate in a fully automatic mode.
Should owners wish to add Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive to their A3, they will need to stick with the TFSI gasoline engine as only FWD is available when coupled with the TDI engine.
Standard and Optional Features
Standard features include automatic climate control with pollen filter and sun sensor, 140-watt stereo with 10 speakers and Sirius satellite radio preparation, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, power windows, and remote locking.
Options include adaptive Bi-Xenon headlights, rain sensor, heated seats and mirrors, DVD-based navigation, Bose premium sound, SD memory card support, and a six-CD changer. The Open Sky sunroof system and rear side airbags are also optional.
In terms of safety, the A3 features front and side airbags for occupants in the front of the vehicle, and curtain airbags for the rear passengers.
As a premium compact hatchback, the A3 doesn't have any true rivals; the BMW 128i is priced similarly but is only offered as a coupe in America, while the Acura TSX Sport Wagon offers similar cargo versatility but is a bit larger overall. The Audi's closest competitor might well be the Lexus CT 200h, a hatchback hybrid that matches up well with the A3 TDI.