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The A3 grows up: No longer a hatchback, A3 sedan matures, offers engine options

Updated April 23, 2015

Hatchbacks are still quite popular for the American consumer. But, so are compact sedans. My tester this week shed its hatchback shell in favor of a sleek four-door exterior.

The new A3 is no longer a hatchback and instead is a four-sedan. I was fortunate to get behind the wheel of two variants of the A3 this week, which allows me to truly evaluate this sedan.

I drove both the 2.0-liter diesel and the 2.0-liter gasoline engine. Audi, like its mother company Volkswagen, loves offering diesel options for their vehicles. And it was nice for me to see how each of these performed and the true differences between the two.

The 2015 Audi A3 is offered with quattro (AWD) and has both a gasoline and diesel engine.

The 2015 Audi A3 is offered with quattro (AWD) and has both a gasoline and diesel engine.

EXTERIOR

Regardless of the engine, the looks are the same. And the A3 is quite handsome. Without the juvenile-looking hatchback styling, the A3 looks mature, grown up and refined. It fits in well with the rest of Audi’s A line vehicles.

The grille is more diminutive than other bigger Audis, but it still maintains the European flare and is still distinctively Audi including the LED headlights.

A new grille for the Audi A3 is more diminutive than other Audi vehicles, but this sedan also sheds its hatchback shell for a more mature 4-door option.

A new grille for the Audi A3 is more diminutive than other Audi vehicles, but this sedan also sheds its hatchback shell for a more mature 4-door option.

POWERTRAIN

The A3 has three different engine options. A 1.8-liter 4-cylinder turbo is one option. It makes 170 horsepower and is available in front-wheel drive only. I drove the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder and it is much more aggressive. With all-wheel drive (Quattro) it makes 220 horsepower and 258 lb./ft. of torque. I don’t understand why Audi would make the smaller displacement engine even an option, as there’s only a one mpg difference in fuel economy between the two. And if fuel economy is something you want, there’s another option.

My other tester was the front-wheel drive A3 TDI (turbo diesel injection). This 2.0-liter diesel engine makes 150 horsepower and 236 lb./ft. of torque. While the horsepower is significantly less than the gasoline engine, it is comparable with the torque output. Like many diesel vehicles (especially German ones), the A3 TDI outperforms its numbers on paper. While it’s certainly not as fast (especially off the line), it doesn’t feel like a 150-horsepower car either. Additionally, there is practically no turbo lag in the diesel.

FUEL ECONOMY

Fuel economy varies based upon the engine. The 2.0-liter gasoline engine has an EPA rating of 24 city and 33 hwy while the TDI has an impressive 31 city and 43 hwy. So you can see that if fuel economy is a factor, then the TDI would be the way to go.

Like all Audis, the A3 has plenty of technology, including Google Earth based navigation and an MMI-based infotainment system.

Like all Audis, the A3 has plenty of technology, including Google Earth based navigation and an MMI-based infotainment system.

INTERIOR

Inside, the A3 is impressive when it comes to quality and touch points. However, with its new sedan shape, including the decrease in roof height, headroom and legroom are diminished for the back seat passengers. The hatch version had limited rear passenger space, but the new sedan version has even less. Adults won’t be comfortable back there, despite the excellent materials used throughout.

The A3 does hit the mark when it comes technology and interior amenities. Soft touch points abound and Audi’s almost-too-fancy-for-it’s-own-good infotainment system is cool, yet cumbersome to operate. It’s the same MMI and touch-sensitive pad/knob that’s present in other Audi vehicles. It’s one of those features where it’s cool to show off, and once you figure it out it’s more intuitive. But initially it’s quite cumbersome and over engineered.

As mentioned, all interior space is limited in the A3 sedan. The new design definitely affects trunk space the most. The A3 sedan only has a 10 cubic foot trunk. That is barely big enough for golf clubs and is certainly one of the smallest trunks in the industry.

TRIM/PRICING

The A3 has one trim level (Premium) and it can be added onto with certain packages. Both of my testers had the same base price of $32,600. The Prestige upgrade has an additional cost of $8,400 and comes with such things as 18-inch wheels, heated front seats, heated mirrors, LED interior lighting and accents, advanced Navigation and a Bang & Olufsen Sound System. A sport package is an additional $800 and includes driver select mode, 3-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters and a sport suspension.

Sometimes it’s harder getting older and maturing. That’s certainly the case for the Audi A3. Shedding its childish hatchback styling for the more mature sedan exterior shows how far the A3 has come and where it’s going. It is definitely comfortable in its new skin and ready to conquer the world.

All photos courtesy of Jimmy Dinsmore/DriverSide

All photos courtesy of Jimmy Dinsmore/DriverSide

SPECS

2015 Audi A3 2.0T quattro

Price/As tested price………………………………………… $32,600/$40,545

Mileage…………………………………… 24 mpg/city; 33 mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder

Horsepower…………………………… 220 hp/258 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… Six-speed automatic

Drive Wheels……………. All-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point……………. Gyor, Hungary

 

2015 Audi A3 TDI

Price/As tested price………………………………………… $32,600/$43,295

Mileage…………………………………… 31 mpg/city; 43 mpg/hwy

Engine……………………………………… 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder diesel

Horsepower…………………………… 150 hp/236 lbs./ft.

Transmission…………………………… Six-speed automatic

Drive Wheels……………. Front-wheel drive

Final Assembly Point……………. Gyor, Hungary

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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