2015 A3 New Car Test Drive
The Audi A3 is all-new for 2015. The 2015 Audi A3 begins its third generation in the U.S. as a four-door sedan, the first time for this body style in the U.S. Three- and five-door hatchbacks and a convertible are right behind the new sedans. A premium-level vehicle, the Audi A3 boasts a high-quality interior with leather upholstery as standard equipment.
As cars in the compact segment keep getting bigger, manufacturers are creating new models to slip into the entry-level category. Audi is no exception; while the A4 sedan was once considered Audi's compact offering, the 2015 Audi A3 sedan now takes over as the smallest four-door in the lineup.
Riding on a new platform, the 2015 Audi A3 offers a choice of two drivetrains. The standard front-wheel-drive sedan uses a 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4 that makes 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy is EPA-rated at 23/33 mpg City/Highway.
Top-of-the-line A3 sedans come with Quattro all-wheel drive and a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 good for 200 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 24/33 mpg City/Highway.
Both models use a 6-speed dual clutch transmission.
Like all Audis, the interior of the 2015 A3 is of high quality, with soft-touch materials, a clean, simple layout, and attention to detail. Even the climate control knobs have a well-built, substantial feel in-hand. The standard display screen is thin and retracts elegantly into the dash when not in use.
The A3 is packed with many standard features not always found on base models, including leather upholstery, power driver's seat, power sunroof and automatic wipers.
A new version of Audi's MMI control interface also is also standard, with 4G LTE data connectivity that effectively turns the A4 into a mobile hotspot, allowing users to pair up to eight compatible devices. Navigation is powered by Google Earth and Google Street View, with real-time weather, traffic and gas prices.
Although it's a four-door sedan, the 2015 Audi A3 is best on long trips for front-seat passengers only, though rear space is adequate for average-sized adults on short commutes. Cargo space is average for the class with all seats in place, and split-folding rear seats, including a center pass-through slot, help to make the A3 more versatile.
The base 1.8-liter engine is fine in the A3 sedan, and would be an ideal choice for commuting or driving around town.
Plenty of power and thrust is on tap driving the top-of-the-line 2.0T Quattro, with the most satisfaction coming in the higher revs. Though we sometimes found ourselves wanting more from the dual-clutch transmission through the winding roads, especially between second and third gears. Ride and handling is comfortable, though we found it a little floaty when pushing it hard around corners on rougher roads.
The closest competitor to the 2015 Audi A3 sedan is the Mercedes-Benz CLA250, which also rides on a front-wheel-drive platform (with optional AWD). The CLA-Class offers more power for the money with its standard 208-hp turbocharged inline-4, though we think the Audi is better looking and comes with more standard features.
2015 Audi A3 sedans come in two basic models: A3 1.8T uses front-wheel drive and a 170-hp, 1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4. A3 2.0T models have Quattro all-wheel drive and are fitted with a 200-hp turbocharged inline-4. Both models are available in three trim levels: Premium, Premium Plus and Prestige.
A3 Premium ($29,900) includes air conditioning, leather upholstery, a 12-way power driver's seat, manually adjustable passenger's seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with multifunction controls, power windows/locks/mirrors, driver information system, cruise control, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio connectivity, 10-speaker audio system with single CD player, HD radio and satellite radio capability (with 90-day included subscription), SD card slot with 32GB capacity, panoramic sunroof, 60/40-split-folding rear seat, rain-sensing wipers, automatic Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and taillights and 17-inch alloy wheels. Options include navigation ($1,900), a Cold Weather Package ($500) with heated front seats, power adjustable side mirrors and heated windshield and washer nozzles.
A3 Premium Plus ($32,800) adds dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, aluminum interior trim, pushbutton start, and upgrades to 18-inch alloy wheels. Packages include Navigation Plus ($2,600) which adds navigation and the AudiConnect hotspot connectivity with six-month subscription, a Driver Assistance Package ($1,400) including blind-spot detection, parking sensors and rearview camera; a Convenience Package ($750) adds power-adjustable folding heated exterior mirrors, an auto-dimming interior rearview mirror with digital compass, ambient LED interior lighting and an interior storage package.
A3 Prestige ($38,700) upgrades to a 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system and adds navigation plus Audi S-line interior and exterior trim. Options for the Prestige trim include an Advanced Technology Package ($1,400), which includes front collision mitigation, lane departure assist and adaptive cruise control.
A Sport package ($550) available on Premium Plus and Prestige trims adds front sport seats, a sport steering wheel with paddle shifters, and adjustable driving modes. In addition, many of the features found on Premium Plus and Prestige models are available as packages or stand-alone options on Premium trims.