The A3 is an example of the exquisite sensibilities in design and use of materials that distinguishes the contemporary Audi. It is a combination of open-road dynamism, long-haul friendliness, around-town usefulness and fuel economy.
The Audi A3 is powered by either a 200-hp 2.0-liter turbocharged (2.0T) four-cylinder gas engine; or a 140-hp 2.0-liter turbo-diesel (TDI) engine. The 2.0T comes standard with a six-speed manual or optional automatic S-tronic transmission that allows manual selection of gears. The only choice with the TDI is the S-tronic. Quattro all-wheel drive is also available with the 2.0T engine, but then your only transmission choice is the S-tronic. Some high-tech A3 features include Bluetooth phone connectivity, light and rain sensors, satellite radio and dual-zone automatic climate control. Passenger safety is provided by front, side and curtain airbags, active front head restraints, electronic stability control and optional rear side-impact airbags.
*Monthly payment estimate based on 0% down, 5% interest rate for 60 months; taxes, dealer delivery and extras not included.
Another key profit center for the A3 is the company's new Audi Connect system, a subscription service that essentially allows the car to satisfy your every smartphone need. You can hook up your device with a cord and have everything available to you onboard, or, perhaps by the time the U.S. launch comes around, the optional "phone box" will have wireless capabilities for both connectivity and charging. And, for better or worse, you can have a wireless hotspot on four wheels with an eight-device connective capacity, so you can never ever have quiet time again.
Audi Drive Select has taken on a whole new life, too, not only gauging the vehicle's dynamics, but also allowing the driver to have a personal setup for all onboard safety and convenience systems through a newer Individual interface.
From what we have seen of the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the new compact premium war will be between the A3 and the Merc, with BMW needing to up its game a tad on the 1 Series – particularly when it comes to available options. We will shortly drive Volvo's striking new V40, too, and it looks good enough to take it to the Germans for premium supremacy... at least on a small scale.
But will this small pricey class finally succeed in becoming an American pastime, too? Or will it remain largely a segment that's only widely interesting to Europeans? We can't find much not to like in this latest generation of small premium cars, so who knows? We could be in for a new North American small-car surge that involves much more than just econoboxes.