The Audi A3 has been around since 1996, making a name for itself as a compact luxury sedan and hatchback. While the A3 proved to be popular, it would be a decade before the U.S. market got its first example. The 2006 A3 was a part of the vehicle’s second generation, and came powered by the 2.0-liter, TFSI four-cylinder and the 3.2-liter, VR6 quattro. The A3 soldiered on until 2013 when the third generation was introduced. Now in its third year of the third generation, the 2014 A3 still holds true to its original intent of compact luxury. I recently spent a week behind the wheel of the A3 2.0T quattro S tronic, evaluating it livability, luxury, and performance.

My tester cam equipped with several option packages, including the Audi MMI Navigation Plus package, the Cold Weather package, and Aluminum Style package. However, even with a built-in infotainment screen, my A3 was missing a backup camera. Also noticeably absent was blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, and other now-normal safety features.

While those absences didn’t detract from the A3’s performance and impressive looks, the car did feel oddly lacking, especially considering its $37,195 price tag. The A3 had plenty of redeeming qualities about it, so click on down to continue reading.

Click past the jump to read more about the 2014 Audi A3

  • 2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-4
  • Transmission:
    six-speed S tronic automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    220 @ 4500
  • MPG(Cty):
    24
  • MPG(Hwy):
    33
  • Torque @ RPM:
    258 @ 1600
  • Energy:
    Turbocharged
  • Displacement:
    2.0 L
  • 0-60 time:
    6.6 sec.
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front engine; All Wheel Drive
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

TopSpeed Garage


Exterior

2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 569657
2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 569655
2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 569656
No wonder every other automaker is stealing Audi’s thunder.

The A3 is unmistakably Audi. From its shapely grille and LED-packed headlights to its open wheel design and angled rear taillights, the sedan’s German roots are clearly visible. The extra-cost grey metallic paint seems well worth its $550 up-charge as the A3’s lines are accentuated nicely against the subtle metallic flake.

Besides looking good, the sloping hood helps forward visibility. The headlights do a great job at dispelling darkness and the menacing presence the LED accent strips give the car is remarkable. No wonder every other automaker is stealing Audi’s thunder.

I did have one onlooker tell me the car looked boring, but they quickly changed their mind once the lights came on. They look good, but they are certainly not the A3’s only redeeming visual quality.

Interior

2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven Interior
- image 569670
2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven Interior
- image 569661
2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven High Resolution Interior
- image 569663
I especially enjoyed the three-spoke steering wheel and leather-covered shifter.

Things are just as aesthetically pleasing inside the A3, however that wasn’t my first impression. Even with the infotainment screen raised, the dash looks lacking in style. The longer I drove the car, the more I decided against that. It’s a simple kind of beauty. On the contrary, I did find the blank toggle switches positioned front and center on the dash to be a little ho-hum. It just reminded me of all the options that weren’t included with my tester.

The A3’s cockpit proved to very ergonomic though the week. I especially enjoyed the three-spoke steering wheel and leather-covered shifter. As usual with Audi, all the major touch points were spot on. It would be nice if the shifter’s manual gate was oriented to the (American) driver’s side when shipped to the States. Pushing the shifter to the right makes the reach just a touch too much. Perhaps it’s just my short arms.

The Audi’s gauge cluster is also a thing of beauty. The analog gauges work well and allow for quick reading at a glance. The other important controls fall easily at the hands. Fit and finish were Audi top-notch.

Rear seat space is on the small side, but that’s expected with this size car. Need more space? Audi has plenty of larger sedans in its lineup. Trunk space is surprisingly big for the A3’s size. It should easily fit a week’s worth of luggage without much fuss.

Drivetrain

2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven Drivetrain
- image 569658
2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven Drivetrain
- image 569659
2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 569660
This particular car didn’t come with paddle shifters, so all the shifting was done via the gear selector.

This is where the A3 really shines. Behind its four-ring grille lies a turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 220 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 258 pound-feet of torque at only 1,600 rpm. The torque is very noticeable down low, though the sedan doesn’t start really moving until the turbo spools up.

The 2.0T is mated to Audi’s six-speed S tronic automatic transmission with manual mode. This particular car didn’t come with paddle shifters, so all the shifting was done via the gear selector. That’s not a terrible thing though as the shifter provided silky smooth rows. Zero to 60 mph happens in roughly 6.5 seconds, thanks in large part to the quattro all-wheel-drive system. Quick acceleration is uneventful as the tires don’t exhibit any squealing or chirping. The car just moves forward.

When settled down during a normal drive, the A3 is a fortress of solitude. The powertrain, combined with the MacPherson front suspension and independent multilink rear suspension, provide a platform exceptionally ready to take Autobahn-type speeds.

The A3’s fuel economy was also respectable, coming in at an EPA-estimated 24 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. While that’s not the best, it’s far from the worst. The ratings seem to be in line with the power outputs and peppy throttle the 2.0T provides.

Pricing

2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven Emblems and Logo Exterior
- image 569677

The Audi A3 2.0T S tronic starts just over $32,000. My tester came with several options that bumped it final price up some $5,000. Those options included the Audi MMI Navigation Plus package ($1,900), the Cold Weather Package ($600), the Aluminum Package ($450) and iPod connectivity ($350)

With a destination charge of $895, my tester’s total sticker landed at $37,195.

While that’s not terrible, I keep finding myself longing for a proximity key, push-button starting, a backup camera, blind spot warning, smart cruise control, and other such niceties. Those are things available — if not standard — on cars costing nearly half the A3’s price. Granted, backup cameras will soon become mandated as standard, but until then, I’m left without one in an Audi costing nearly $40k.

Competition

Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class

2014 - 2015 Mercedes CLA-Class High Resolution Exterior
- image 489080

Slotted as Mercedes’ least-expensive model, the CLA-Class takes on the popular four-door-coupe design. Its sloping roofline helps define the car, but also hinders rear-seat headroom. While it may not be suited for limo service, the CLA-Class does come with a peppy engine under its hood.

The CLA250 comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder making 208 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The turbocharged mill is able to move the front-wheel-drive car to 60 mph in roughly 6.6 seconds. Get the 4MATIC version and the run takes a tenth or so longer.

Pricing for the CLA-Class starts at a $30,825 (delivery included) and goes north with added options.

BMW 3 Series

2012 - 2014 BMW 3 Series Sedan High Resolution Exterior
- image 420600

While the BMW 3 Series is technically larger than the Audi A3, BMW’s size-appropriate 2 Series only comes in two-door form. Those looking for a larger sedan will have to upgrade to the 3. Nevertheless, the 3 Series has been the benchmark sedan for more years than it’s worth counting. A decent rear seat offers plenty of room while the driver gets to enjoy the BMW’s driving dynamics.

The base 3 Series comes with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged engine making 180 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. Unlike the Mercedes, the BMW is rear-wheel drive.

The BMW does command the most for its base sedan, listing the 320i at $32,750.

Conclusion

2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro - Driven High Resolution Exterior
- image 569678

The Audi A3 proved to be a proper compact luxury sedan with plenty of clout and swagger expected of an Audi. Its stout 2.0-liter turbo engine and quick-shifting six-speed auto made short work of twisty roads and open highways. Its comfortable seating position and great ergonomics means no fatigue on long drives.

Like other Audi products, the A3 has plenty of stage presence and posh. Its only real detractor was its lack of standard equipment matched against its premium price. Otherwise, the A3 showed itself to be a great daily driver and long-distance cruiser.

  • Leave it
    • * Lack of standard tech equipment
    • * Smallish rear seats
    • * Starts to get pricy
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: