With the population aging, the entry-luxury segment is growing quickly.
Owners of traditional, large luxury cars no longer need a car so big and fuel efficiency is a growing concern. Also, people who no longer have kids at home are now free to upgrade to something a little more comfortable.
Audi’s answer for these customers is the A3.
In the past, the A3 was a 5-door hatchback, which was never fully loved by the North American luxury-car buyer. New for 2015, the A3 is a sedan.
Now, the A3 is more adequately equipped to compete with the likes of the Cadillac ATS, BMW 2 Series, and the new Mercedes-Benz CLA. Offering a fuel-efficient diesel engine makes the Audi unique in this group.
The A3 is available in three trim levels with three different engines. Currently, it is only available as a 4-door sedan or a 2-door convertible. In the near future a gasoline electric hybrid and a diesel hatchback will be joining the lineup.
The Audi A3’s styling is classy and charming, but conservative. Standard features like bi-xenon headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels give it a premium look.
All of Audi’s contemporary styling elements are present on the A3. The resemblance to its A4 sibling is clear, especially looking at the large single frame grille and soft, smooth shoulders.
Built on Volkswagen’s MQB architecture, the 2015 sedan A3 is larger in every dimension than the previous hatchback model. Wheelbase has increased more than 2 inches, which in turn increases length and width.
The interior offers everything you expect from an Audi. The cabin design is clean, but it is sportier and less posh than its A6 and A8 stablemates. Stock features like leather seats and panoramic sunroof ensure a luxury standard.
The dash is low and smooth, punctuated by simple, circular air vents that almost have a retro vibe to them. However, once the display screen rises out of the centre, the idea the interior design is old is quickly forgotten.
From the driver seat, all the controls are within easy reach. The 3-spoke steering wheel feels nice in hand, the gauges are easy to read, and the front seats are roomy and comfortable.
Audi’s MMI command centre has been updated to improve its ease of use. It features new toggle switches and handwriting recognition to help you find your destination.
While the added wheelbase allows for some more rear seat legroom, it is still quite tight. The cabin is cozy and is hard-pressed to squeeze three people in the rear seats.
Cargo space benefits the most from the stretched wheelbase. Front-wheel drive models offer 12.3 cubic feet, but the all-wheel drive system cuts that down to an even 10.0 cubic feet.
Fans of small, sporty cars will enjoy driving the A3. Its light weight gives it a playful nature but the ride is supple and the cabin is quiet making daily commutes and long drives easy.
S3 models are certainly more performance-focused as the stiffer suspension makes it even more agile. However, the ride is not so harsh that daily-driving becomes unpleasant.
The base engine is a 1.8-litre turbo inline-4 producing 170 hp and 199 lb-ft of torque. Despite this being the entry engine, it is still capable of a top speed of 209 km/h and can accelerate to 100 km/h in 7.7 seconds.
The economical choice is a 2.0-litre turbo four cylinder clean diesel. Output is rated at 150 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque and can return 6.6L/100km of combined driving.
Both are only available as front-wheel drive. Also, Audi’s 6-speed dual-clutch S tronic transmission is the only offering, but that’s fine as shifts are impressively quick and smooth.
Those wanting Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel drive need to opt for the 2.0-litre turbo inline-4. In A3 trim, output is rated at 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The S3 boosts power to 290 hp and 280 lb-ft of torque, enabling it to rocket to 100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds.
Overall, the new A3 sedan better fits North American luxury buyers expectations. The engine choices all offer solid performance, and the clean diesel has good fuel economy.
While the A3 has its charms, it is far from the most dramatic in this class. This segment has seen a lot of new and refreshed entries lately, and the A3 may not stand out as much as it needs too.
If you are looking for a compact luxury car, the 2015 Audi A3 checks all the mandatory boxes and provides a few nice added perks.
What do you think about the 2015 Audi A3? Do you like the sedan or did you prefer the hatchback?