2007 A3 New Car Test Drive
The Audi A3 is a practical, compact hatchback, but it feels upscale, like a scaled down A4. Sales of the A3 sales are modest here in the U.S., but Audi has sold 1.5 million A3s worldwide. It's earned accolades for its high levels of technology and sporty driving dynamics.
The A3 2.0T is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder driving the front wheels, while the A3 3.2 Quattro carries a 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine that drives all four wheels.
The A3 is an example of the exquisite sensibilities in design and use of materials that distinguishes the contemporary Audi. It will take more than just high fuel prices for U.S. buyers to look for their sporty utility in smaller vehicles, but we like the A3 for its combination of open-road dynamism, long-haul friendliness, around-town usefulness and fuel economy.
We found the front-drive A3 2.0 T offers superb balance and excellent throttle response that make for a convincing sports car when the road is right. Inside, the A3 Sportback is roomy and versatile, blending pleasing materials with logical controls and highly legible readouts.
There are few changes to the five-door hatchback for 2007. For now at least, all A3 models come to the U.S. in the Sportback five-door hatchback body style, though other body styles are available in Europe.
The Audi A3 2.0T is front-wheel drive and powered by the heralded 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, rated at 200 horsepower. Two transmissions are available: a standard six-speed manual or optional Direct Shift Gearbox (DGS) automatic. The A3 3.2 Quattro has all-wheel drive and a 250-hp 3.2-liter V6.
The A3 2.0T is available in three trim levels, 2.0T, 2.0T S line, and 2.0T Premium. In line with the A3's near-luxury market placement, there's no dearth of appropriate amenities. The base A3 2.0 T ($24,620) comes standard with automatic climate control with pollen filter and sun sensor; cloth upholstery; tilt and telescoping adjustable steering column; 10-speaker 140-watt stereo with satellite prep; central locking with remote keyless entry; power windows; electronic cruise control; anti-theft vehicle alarm; two cup holders in the center console; and vanity mirrors in the sunvisors.
Designed to be as much sporty driver's car as well-tailored transportation module, the A3 comes standard with upmarket technologies. These include a sophisticated multi-link rear suspension; an electronic stability program (ESP); standard full-time traction control (ASR); ABS with an electronic differential lock (EDL); Servotronic electro-mechanical steering; and 17-inch alloys with all-season radials. Low-profile 225/45 performance radials are a no-cost option. These elements all contribute to a persona that begs for tight, winding mountain roads, thrives in the slice-and-dice of urban traffic and quietly relieves the tedium of commuter slogs.
Safety features that come standard include front and side-impact airbags for the front-seat passengers. All five seating positions get three-point belts with automatic pre-tensioners and an adjustable headrest; the front seat belts feature height adjustment, automatic pre-tensioners and belt-force limiters.
The new for '07 A3 S line package ($2,200) features a more aggressive treatment to the nose and tail as well as 16-spoke bi-color alloy wheels wrapped with 17-inch all-season radials, sport-tuned shocks and stiffer springs to tighten up the handling. Distinctive exterior touches includes a roof spoiler, front fog lamps, front grille and side moldings with S line badge, brushed aluminum beltline trim and S line front and rear bumpers. Leather seating surfaces, aluminum door sills with S line logo, a trip computer, and sport seats with manual height adjustment upgrade the interior along with illuminated vanity mirrors; alloy inlays and trim; aluminum door sill trim with the Audi logo; a three-spoke multi-function sport steering wheel; and alloy shift paddles on cars with the DSG transmission.
The revised 2.0T Premium package ($1,650) gets leather seating surfaces; specific 16-spoke silver alloy wheels with 17-inch all-season radials; a storage package; trip computer; illumination package; power front driver's seat with four-way power lumbar adjustment; multifunction three-spoke sport steering wheel; alloy shift paddles on cars with DSG; aluminum beltline trim; and front fog lights.
Option packages include an Audio Package ($1,350) with Bose electronics, an in-dash six-disc CD changer and Sirius satellite radio; a Cold Weather group ($700) with heated front seats, ski sack, heated windshield washer nozzles and heated exterior mirrors. A new Technology Package ($1,500) offers a light/rain sensor; auto-dimming interior mirror; Bluetooth phone prep; and bi-xenon headlights with an Adaptive Front Lighting system. The Audi Navigation Plus package ($3,300) includes the content of the Audio Package in addition to the navigation system. Stand-alone options include an Open Sky sunroof ($1,100); rear side airbags ($350); and a stereo upgrade ($350). Separate pearl effect or metallic finishes are available ($450) as well as sold-order only paint finishes ($750).
The A3 3.2 Quattro ($33,260) comes in just one configuration: a 3.2-liter 250-horsepower six-cylinder engine.
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