Originally published October 31, 2014
Odometer at pick-up: 1,139 km
Odometer current: 10,507 km (9,367 km by Autos.ca)
Observed Fuel Consumption: 8.6 L/100 km
Fuel costs: $1176.11
After three months in Audi’s new compact luxury sedan, we grew more and more attached to the little A3. Apparently we’re not the only ones that like it. It’s off to a great start on the sales charts, and we think it will revitalize the small luxury segment along with the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, bringing quality to the fore and delivering on the brand’s luxury promise as few others have in this segment. It should be noted that these two Euro-chic imports are doing nothing to slow the popularity of the slightly less prestigious but significantly better-selling Buick Verano.
We took delivery in June with just a little over 1,000 km on the odometer and racked up over 9,000 km driving it all over the GTA and on a family road trip out to Quebec City, then put it to the ultimate challenge in a comparison test against a natural rival.
Trims and Power
To recap, the A3 is available in three trims (Komfort, Progressiv, Technik) and with three power sources: 1.8L turbo gasoline, 2.0L turbodiesel or 2.0L turbo gasoline. On top of the trims and power plants, a variety of technology and feature packages are available. The A3 starts at $31,100, but ours was the top 2.0T engine in top Technik trim with S-line package, tech package and LED headlights, ringing in at $50,045 once you factor in the $1,995 destination fee.
On paper, the 2.0T’s 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque don’t leap out, but the torque comes on early and boots the little sedan to speed with little effort. The base engine is a 1.8L turbo delivering 170 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque and the TDI turbodiesel is rated at 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque.
Audi is blessed with one of the best transmissions in the business, designated S tronic in Audi cars (DSG in Volkswagens), featuring six gears and two clutches that shift gears quickly and smoothly at speed. An available Sport mode ramps the intensity up a notch when you’re hustling and paddle shifters offer direct control, but low-speed maneuvers can be a bit jerky.
On the outside, the A3 is conservative in form, but highly technical in detail, with subtle but sharp creases along its flanks, Audi’s large single-frame grille dominating the front end with simple shapes for the headlights that are rich with technical detail. This S-Line-equipped model adds high-contrast gloss black trim against the crisp white colour, making its signature styling touches really stand out. The side view is one of my favourites, a simple yet strong profile, its compact size giving it a feeling of dense power without resorting to gimmicky ‘coupe’ styling.
One of the best details of any current Audi are the lighting signatures from the LEDs, and clear, bright headlight performance, in this case delivered by adaptive LED headlights that add $1,050 to the bottom line. Although less crucial to the driving function, the A3 LED signatures are a geometric ribbon of light around the turn signals and taillights that nicely finish the chiseled back end with integrated trunk spoiler, twin tailpipes and underbody diffuser.
As with the exterior, the interior favours clean, simple shapes, masking the surprising amount of technology and amenities available in this small package. The flair in this interior are those turbine vents and a dash-top screen that rises out of the dash on startup.
2015 Audi A3 2.0 TFSI Technik, dashboard. Click image to enlarge
Shortly after taking delivery of our A3 2.0T A3 long-term tester, we had a chance to sample the A3 E-Tron plug-in hybrid in Vienna, Austria that will be arriving mid-next year. The hybrid promises to significantly reduce fuel consumption while adding the practicality of a hatchback. Official consumption figures have not been provided for the North American market, though we saw around and under 5.0 L/100 km in aggressive driving and in city traffic.