2009 A3 New Car Test Drive
The Audi A3 is a premium car with excellent driving dynamics from superbly engineered powertrain, suspension and braking systems. Yet it's fuel-efficient, with an EPA-rated 30 mpg Highway.
It is, essentially, a practical, compact five-door hatchback, but it feels up-market, like a scaled-down A4. We like the A3 for its combination of open-road dynamism, long-haul friendliness, and around-town usefulness. The A3 is an example of the exquisite sensibilities in design and use of materials that distinguishes a contemporary Audi.
Two models are available. The A3 2.0 T is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, which drives either the front wheels, or has all-wheel-drive with the quattro version. The A3 3.2 quattro has a 3.2-liter V6 that drives all four wheels.
We found the A3 models offer superb balance and excellent throttle response that make for a convincing sports-car experience when the road is right. Inside, the A3 is roomy and versatile, blending pleasing materials with logical controls and highly legible readouts.
Changes for 2009 include the addition of quattro all-wheel drive as an option with the 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, the optional availability of Audi Magnetic Ride, which enhances the ride and handling, some changes to trim and some re-configuring of some of the options packages. Features that are now standard equipment include leather seating surfaces, Sirius satellite radio, a leather steering wheel, auxiliary audio input, and hill-hold assist. The A3 3.2 now comes standard with Bluetooth, bi-xenon headlights, the Open Sky moonroof, Concert CD audio, Sport Suspension, and Sport Seats.
All Audi A3 models sold in the U.S. are five-door Sportbacks.
The A3 2.0 T is front-wheel drive, with the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine rated at 200 horsepower. Two transmissions are available: a six-speed manual or the optional Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automatic. The A3 2.0 T is also available with the all-wheel-drive quattro system. The A3 3.2 quattro comes with all-wheel drive and a 250-hp 3.2-liter V6. All quattro models use the DSG automatic.
The A3 2.0 T ($26,920), 2.0 T DSG ($28,400), and 2.0 T DSG quattro ($30,500) come with leather upholstery; automatic climate control with pollen filter and sun sensor; power lumbar support; tilt and telescoping steering column; 10-speaker, 140-watt stereo; central locking with remote keyless entry; power windows; electronic cruise control; anti-theft alarm; two cup holders in the center console; vanity mirrors in the sunvisors; Servotronic electro-mechanical steering; and 17-inch, five-spoke alloy wheels with all-season radial tires.
The 2.0 T Premium Package ($1,500) adds 17-inch, ten-spoke alloy wheels, a storage package, 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, front fog lights, and Bluetooth. The S line Package ($2,000) includes the Premium Package, plus a roof spoiler, S line badges, unique front and rear bumpers, and aluminum door sills (with the S line logo). The Convenience Package ($1,800) adds Bose electronics, AudioPilot noise compensation, bi-xenon headlights, and an auto-dimming mirror. The A3 3.2 quattro ($36,975) includes all of the content of the S line Package and Audio Package.
Options include a Cold Weather Package ($500) with heated front seats, heated windshield washer nozzles and heated exterior mirrors; navigation ($1,950), which includes a six-cd changer and two SD card slots; and the Open Sky moonroof ($1,100).
Safety features that come standard on all models include front and side-impact airbags for the front-seat passengers. All five seating positions get three-point seatbelts and adjustable headrests, while front-seat headrests feature active technology to reduce whiplash injuries. The front seat belts feature height adjustment, automatic pre-tensioners and belt-force limiters. Rear side airbags are optional ($350). Active safety features that come standard include electronic stability program (ESP); full-time traction control (ASR); ABS, EBD, Brake Assist; and an electronic differential lock (EDL).