- Fun to drive
- utility and sportiness
- delicious interior design
- reasonably priced.
The A3, Audi's first hatchback for the U.S. market, celebrated its second birthday in 2007, continuing to tout itself as "the first four-door car with the sportiness of a TT coupe."
The base engine is a smooth 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder that makes 200 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque, and is available with front-wheel drive. The 2.0T comes standard with a great six-speed manual gearbox that has light and easy clutch action. Audi's Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) is a $1,480 option, and is based on technology pioneered in their Le Mans winning racecars. The DSG shifts either automatically or with the pull of a steering column-mounted paddle, and it always has the next gear ready for quick engagement.
The throaty 250-horsepower narrow-angle 3.2L V6 is paired with the DSG and Audi's quattro system. Its base price starts just under $34,000.
Audi has done an outstanding job with the exterior and interior of the A3. All body panels boasted tight seams and comely lines, and the interior materials were all top notch. The amount of standard equipment the A3 has is outstanding. Dual zone automatic climate control helps eliminate disagreements over interior temperatures, and an AM/FM/CD stereo provides good tunes.
Standard safety equipment includes antilock circuitry on all four disc brakes, and brake assist helps give full braking power for panic stops. The electronic stability program helps keep the A3 planted. Front, side, and head curtain air bags protect occupants in the event of a collision.
The ride and handling compromise is perfect for the A3's intended mission. The car can be pressed quite hard through the corners, yet the ride from the 225/45R17 tires is not punishing. While the back seat is not enormous, there is plenty of room for a family with two growing children.
Audi's execution is first rate, and all in all the A3 delivers a quality driving experience in a shapely package.