2006 Audi A3. Click image to enlarge
Review by Justin Pritchard
Vehicle Type: Premium compact
History/Description: The Audi A3 launched for the 2006 model year as a five-door hatchback with turbo-four or free-breathing six-cylinder power, available Quattro AWD and the functionality and upscale goodies fitting of a premium German ‘wagon’. Some called the A3 a ‘Beverly Hills GTI’, referencing its Volkswagen underpinnings and engines.
The A3 operated with an eye for fuel-efficient performance, and primary competitors included said GTI, as well as the Volvo C30, Mini Cooper, Lexus CT 200h and other familiars.
Engines / Trim: In earlier models, look for VW Group’s two-litre turbo-four (2.0T) with 200 hp, or a 3.2L V6 with 250. Quattro was standard with the six-cylinder engine and available on four-cylinder units after 2009. Otherwise, 2.0T powered models were front-wheel drive.
A dual-clutch “Direct Shift” gearbox with paddle shifters was standard with the V6 and optional with the four-cylinder, which was teamed with a six-speed stick otherwise. For most drivers, the four-cylinder, manual-equipped A3 will prove adequately entertaining, as well as the least-expensive to run, insure and fuel.
Feature content included upgraded audio, heated leather, navigation, folding rear seats, a panoramic sunroof and plenty more.
Shoppers in the used market should note that the A3 was badged by its engine type – namely 2.0T for the turbo four-cylinder unit, or 3.2 for the V6. Quattro indicates the presence of AWD, and models dubbed ‘S-Line’ include various upgrades and cosmetic tweaks for a sportier look and feel.
Trim grade levels aren’t used by Audi in the A3, though a model with the “Premium” designation indicates the presence of an upscale list of equipment.
For 2010, a 2.0L TDI engine, borrowed from several VW models, was available in the A3. Enthusiasts across the web shouted ‘blasphemy’ at the TDI engine’s availability paired only to an automatic DSG transmission and front-wheel drive. The TDI engine turns in robust torque, more than adequate performance and great real-life mileage.
The 2010 model year also saw the 3.2L V6 engine dropped from the A3’s options roster. From 2012 and on, a face-lifted A3 was available with numerous cosmetic tweaks and updates, as well as a new “Progressiv” trim.
2010 Audi A3. Click image to enlarge
What Owners Like: Existing A3 owners typically rave about styling, build quality, comfort levels, all-season Quattro traction and even fuel efficiency on models with the four-cylinder engine, at least when it’s not being driven by a lead-footed hooligan. Good ride and handling characteristics round out the package, with most owners reporting confidence in the A3’s composure and handling at all speeds. Nighttime driving peace of mind is enhanced in models with the powerful, steerable xenon lights, too.
What Owners Dislike: Common complaints include some low-budget interior switches and controls, ‘fragile’ plastics lining the cargo area, a sometimes-fussy Bluetooth interface and limited leg- and headroom in the rear seating row, even for passengers of normal size. The V6 engine can be loud and harsh when pushed, and when it is, fuel consumption gets hefty, too. Other complaints include the set of triangular grab-handles mounted to either side of the centre console. These look neato, but chew up valuable knee room.