The 2016 Audi A3 Review: The A4 has long been Audi’s bread-and-butter model. The A3 was a smaller wagon configuration, directed at a different buyer. The A4 stretches nearly 10 inches longer on a nearly seven-inch-longer wheelbase. That does give rear passengers in the A4 more than three inches of greater legroom. But in 2015, the A3 was recast as a sedan or a convertible, offered with three engine choices and option packages to load it up to your specifications. Now for 2016, the A3 five-door version returned as the E-tron Sportback, a gasoline / electric hybrid.
My A3 test sedan arrived in a sophisticated coat of Dakota Gray metallic paint, with a complementary black interior. Audi has always offered at least one gray shade, always good looking and tasteful.
Under its hood, my test car came with a 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder, mounted transversely, sending its 220 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque through Audi’s famous Quattro all-wheel-drive system. This is likely to be the most popular model.
The entry-level A3 features a 1.8-liter turbocharged engine that puts out 170 horsepower and 200 lb.-ft. of torque. On the other end, the S4 model boasts a turbocharged 2.0-liter with 292 horsepower and 280 lb.-ft. For now, skip the fourth option, the Diesel.
The gasoline versions are all pretty efficient. The sticker showed 24 City, 33 Highway, and 27 overall. I averaged 26.8 mpg, admittedly including a lot of open freeway driving. My tester rated surprisingly clean, with an EPA Smog score at an excellent 9, with a 6 for Greenhouse Gas. This is a fine option for Audi intenders with a wish to minimize their environmental impact.
On the road, the A3 is pleasingly taut and smooth, and controls fall to hand. Power from the naturally aspirated 2.0-liter is direct and plentiful. All A3’s, despite their compact size, require Premium fuel, which may not be an issue today but could be when prices climb again.
It’s quiet in there, too, the better to enjoy the standard 10-speaker, 180-watt audio system. Audi’s controls are unique, but once you understand the logic, are easy to operate. Use the control knob on the center console to make selections on the slim, iPad-like screen that slides up out of the dash top. You can lower it if you’re tired of looking at it, and use the steering-wheel-mounted controls to make choices.
The A3 offers the engine variants, but there are equipment levels, too. The Premium Plus package for $2,700, ups the 17-inch wheels to 18-inchers, heats the already multi-adjustable front seats, provides the ease of keyless entry, decorates the car inside and out with metallic accents, and brings in a few handy things like Audi music interface and an automatically dimming rearview mirror.
Pricing starts at $30,825 for the A3 with front-wheel drive and the 1.8-liter engine. My car included the Technology Package, also $2,700, which upgraded the audio, added navigation, and gave access to various online services.
The A4 begins at $36,825 with the 2.0-liter engine. My test car, with all its extras, came to $41,100. That’s the price of entry for a well equipped sport sedan these days, and I’m guessing that most of the A3s go out the door equipped more or less this way. All prices include the $925 shipping charge.
If you want a manual transmission, forget it in the A3. European buyers, who favor shifting for themselves, get one, but we don’t have a choice in the U.S. The A4 still offers one, which could affect your buying decision. European buyers also get an A3 three-door and a non-hybrid A3 Sportback.
Direct competitors include the BMW 2-Series sedans and the Mercedes-Benz CLA, which occupy the “junior” level at their respective marques. You also could investigate what Lexus, Infiniti, and Acura have to offer at the entry-luxury level. American brands don’t really compete in this market today, but watch out for Buick and Lincoln to offer something before too long.
Despite being assembled in Gyor, Hungary, the A3 is a German design, and these Teutonic cars have their fans because of the enjoyable driving experience. Audis are known for their excellently designed and built interiors, too, and even the baby of the brand exhibits that appeal. And who knows, Audi could send us over a manual version someday. By Steve Schaefer © AutoWire.Net
The 2016 Audi A3 Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
The Bottom Line: The 2016 Audi A3 looks a lot like a shrunken A4, which is a familiar Audi family design. It’s a little sharper in the lighting designs at both ends, but it’s unmistakably an Audi. VW’s luxury division is turning out to be the most conservatively styled German manufacturer in the Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi battle for customers. Future models will take on a squarer, edgier shape, as hinted by recent concept cars and the new Q7 crossover. Why pick an A3 over an A4? It’s smaller and less expensive. And maybe, just for those reasons alone, you should “Drive one, Buy one, Today ©”. Bottom Line Review provided by: Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
“Tony the Car Guy” is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit AutoWire.Net at www.autowire.net - And remember: “You Are What You Drive ©”
Column Name: Drives Great, Less Filling
Topic: The 2016 Audi A3
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