2006 A3 New Car Test Drive
The Audi A3 is a completely new vehicle for the U.S. market and is leading the way in establishing a new class of premium compact cars here. The A3 comes packed with technology and it boasts the sporty driving dynamics and high quality standards of a German sedan.
The new Audi A3 was launched as a five-door hatchback powered by a newly developed turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder driving the front wheels. An all-wheel-drive A3 Quattro powered by the much admired 3.2-liter six-cylinder engine will also be on sale during the 2006 model year.
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.
The Audi A3 2.0 T is front-wheel drive and powered by the new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 200 horsepower. Two transmissions are available: a standard six-speed manual or optional Direct Shift Gearbox (DGS) automatic. Available later in the 2006 model year is the A3 Quattro with all-wheel drive and the 250-horsepower 3.2-liter V6. 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 A3 2.0 T is available in three trim levels, 2.0 T, 2.0 T Sport and 2.0 T Premium. In line with the A3's near-luxury market placement, there's no dearth of appropriate amenities. The base A3 2.0 T ($24,740) 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 low-profile 225/45 radials. 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 A3 Sport package ($1,800) features 16-spoke bi-color alloy wheels wrapped with 17-inch performance tires (all-season radials are a no-cost option), sport-tuned shocks and springs to tighten up the handling, and a roof spoiler and front fog lamps. Leather seating surfaces and sport seats with manual height adjustment upgrade the interior along with illuminated vanity mirrors; alloy inlays and trim; driver/passenger reading lights; aluminum door sill trim with the Audi logo; and a three-spoke steering wheel.
The A3 Premium package ($2,025) gets leather seating surfaces; specific 16-spoke silver alloy wheels; HomeLink garage door opener; trip computer; light/rain sensor with auto-dimming interior mirror; three-spoke steering wheel and alloy shift paddles; power driver's seat with lumbar support; front fog lights; a Storage Package and alloy trim bits around the cockpit.
Option packages include an upgrade of the sound system ($900) with Bose electronics and an in-dash six-disc CD changer; a Cold Weather group ($700) with heated front seats, ski sack, heated windshield washer nozzles and heated exterior mirrors. Sport versions offer a Convenience option ($675) that includes HomeLink, Storage package, trip computer, auto-dimming interior mirror; and light/rain sensor.
Stand-alone options include Audi Navigation ($1,950) and Navigation plus Sound ($2,850); Open Sky sunroof ($1,100); rear side airbags ($350); xenon headlights ($500); two additional paint colors, Venetian Violet metallic and Murano Green pearl effect ($1,000); and separate pearl effect or metallic finishes ($450). Satellite radio prep for either XM or Sirius is available for Sport and Premium models ($350).