Overview & Reviews
Introduced in the mid-1990s in Europe and brought to the United States in 2006, the A3 is Audi's entry-level model for the North American market. Smaller and lighter than the A4, the Audi A3 presents a strong argument for buying a bargain sport sedan or wagon, provided one goes easy on the options. And just because this is Audi's entry-level car doesn't mean the company cuts corners on quality. The cabin's design and materials are up to the lofty standards Audi has set for the industry, meaning everything fits tightly, moves with precision and looks and feels top-shelf.
Those considering a used version of this junior Audi should know that most of the ones they see for sale will be the wagon, which was the only body style available until 2015. For many the A3 will be an alternative choice -- few luxury automakers bother making small hatchbacks. As such, it's an upscale alternative to more mainstream hatchbacks and a cheaper alternative to a luxury wagon or sedan. Furthermore, with the clean-burning diesel engine option it also makes an extremely-fuel efficient alternative to hybrids. But whether you're considering an A3 wagon or sedan, it offers the distinct German flavor of Audi, that being one of engineering excellence combined with an upscale cabin.
Current Audi A3
Introduced for 2015, the latest version of the Audi A3 comes solely in a four-door sedan body style, although a convertible is rumored to debut within the model year. Initially, there are two main trim levels: the front-wheel-drive 1.8 TFSI and the all-wheel-drive 2.0 TFSI. A diesel-powered TDI version is set to debut later in the model year.
The 1.8 TFSI has a turbocharged 1.8-liter four that produces 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. The 2.0 TFSI has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four with 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. Both engines come matched to a six-speed automated manual transmission.
Both the 1.8 and 2.0 A3s start off in Premium trim and offer two available packages, dubbed Premium Plus and Prestige. Highlights of the Premium include xenon headlights, a sunroof, leather upholstery, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a 10-speaker sound system. The Premium Plus adds keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats. The Prestige features LED headlights, added exterior styling tweaks, power-folding side mirrors, a navigation system, Audi Connect (WiFi hotspot and various smartphone applications) and a Bang & Olufsen sound system. Options include a Sport package, adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system and a front collision warning and braking system.
In reviews, we've been impressed with the Audi A3's grown-up personality; it feels more like an honest-to-goodness luxury car rather than a fancy compact. The ride is composed and comfortable, the cabin is quiet and the turbocharged engines provide plenty of punch around town and on the freeway. Superb fuel economy helps as well. Surprisingly, the A3 doesn't feel especially sprightly when driving around town, due to its somewhat light and numb steering feel at lower speeds. However, it perks up when driven with more enthusiasm. Particularly when equipped with the 2.0-liter engine and all-wheel drive, the A3 feels like a running back in bankers' clothing.
Used Audi A3 Models
The previous-generation Audi A3 was introduced as a 2006 model in the United States and was produced through 2013. There was no 2014 model. It came only in a four-door hatchback body style that some might consider a small wagon.
A 2.0-liter, 200-hp turbocharged inline-4 and front-wheel drive were standard. Audi offered either a six-speed manual transmission or a quick-shifting six-speed automated manual transmission (S tronic). All-wheel drive was optional starting in 2009, and it came with the S tronic transmission. From 2006-'09 a 3.2-liter V6 engine was available that produced 250 hp. It was outfitted with all-wheel drive and the S tronic transmission as standard. Starting in 2010, Audi began offering a 140-hp, 2.0-liter diesel-powered engine (TDI). It came as front-wheel drive only and had the S tronic transmission.
Originally, the A3 came in 2.0T and 3.2 Quattro trim levels. Standard features on the 2.0T included 17-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control and a 10-speaker audio system. The "S line" Package provided a sport-tuned suspension, sport seats with leather upholstery and special exterior styling. The Premium package also included some of the S line's items but added a power driver seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and rain-sensing wipers. The 3.2 Quattro included almost all of the equipment from the S line and Premium packages as standard. Notable options on both trim levels were xenon headlights, a sunroof, a navigation system, Bluetooth, iPod integration and a Cold Weather package.
The most significant changes for this generation took place for 2009. The exterior and interior were refreshed, most notably with Audi's signature larger grille and LED running lights. Leather upholstery, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack became standard equipment, while the 2.0T could now be equipped with all-wheel drive. For 2010, new Premium and Premium Plus trim level names debuted. From then on through 2013, only minor equipment updates took place.
In reviews at the time, we found that this generation of A3 struck an agreeable balance between athletic handling and a comfy ride. With the base 2.0-liter engine, it provided energetic acceleration along with good fuel economy. The V6 was a little quicker, but not dramatically so. The A3 TDI's ample low-end torque was nice around town but the engine could feel winded at higher speeds. As for passenger space, the A3's hatchback design provided some added versatility, but the small rear seat was cramped for adults.
User Reviews:Showing 1 through 10 of 353.00
A great smaller Audi - 2015 Audi A3
By - January 25 - 1:22 am
I traded a 2013 A4 for an A3 2.0 Premium Plus Quattro. It's about a foot shorter than the A4 and feels sportier and quicker since it has the same engine but is smaller and lighter. The interior is definitely up to Audi standards, but the CD player is placed in the glove box, making it useless when the driver is alone (unless you want to drive into a ditch changing a CD!). The handling is sporty, steering seems tighter than the A4, and the car rides just as well as its larger cousin. The engine is quiet and smooth but there seems to be more road noise than the A4, probably due to less sound insulation. Mileage has been impressive, quite a bit better than the A4. Comfort and space int the front seat seem equal to the A4 but the back is understandably tighter. The bucket seats are firm and comfortable on a long trip. Overall, I love this car--it has Audi's classy styling and quality in a smaller package that's fun to drive.
surprisingly missing some standard stuff - 2015 Audi A3
By Anthony K. - December 17 - 10:25 am
Let me say right off that I love the car. Having owned 4 diesel VW Jetta's previously, it was time to move up. A few small quibbles though: No heated seats??? Are you kidding? My last Jetta cost 14 grand less and had heated seats. And the big gripe: You cannot move the or extend the sun visors. In other words, if the sun is coming at you from the side and you position the the visor to your left while driving, there is a huge 7 inch gap, which cannot be blocked because the visor will not slide in or out. Again, even the cheaper Jetta could do that. Very annoying. Oh, and the GPS system is fairly useless, and will be expensive to update, and event which can only occur once per year???!!! Stick with Google maps. Other than that, the car is extremely solid, and very confidence inspiring while driving.
Nice ride, but it will cost you - 2009 Audi A3
By William Lee - November 22 - 11:02 pm
Akin to what another reviewer described - the A3 is a great driving car, too much fun (as evidenced by multiple speeding tickets). But... I've gotten to know my service dealer a little too well. Driver's seat fell apart - warranty-covered fix. Fuse box melted - warranty covered that. It's a turbocharged car, so you have to replace the spark plugs every 30k mi. It didn't help that the injector coil also went out on me. Ugh. Now at 80k miles, the engine light is going on, and there's no identifiable reason. The engine was cleaned out (pistons), various valves and manifolds were replaced, yet after $900 in repairs, it's still messed up with the engine light brightening my interior lighting. The 25k/50k/75k services at the dealer ran about $500-$700. Oil changes run $100. Premium fuel. No off-dealer maintenance shop will replace the transmission fluid as that's Audi special. My next car will be a Mazda - all the same driving fun, with less costly repairs.
One of the vehicles I've owned that I will miss. - 2010 Audi A3
By Artie - October 17 - 11:01 am
Solid car. Tracks great. At 72 on cruise control gets 30 mpg. Averages between 27 and 28 mpg combined.Have been very happy with it but looking for something a little bigger, but still in a sport back, or hatchback. Same thing, different terminology.
Lemonade season is almost over - 2015 Audi A3
By Sonia - October 11 - 1:47 pm
Uncomfortable rear seats with no leg room. AC is not as powerful as it should be and will not cool off your passengers in the rear seats. There has been a tapping noise coming from the sunroof which the dealership cannot seem to locate. They stated that this is normal due to the new models all glass sunroof. Experienced a loud whistling noise coming from the ac, Talk about embarrassment. The dealer said there was tree leaves. Lol. Less than a year with this car and already went in to have the ignition switch completely replaced. ( key is removed yet still recognizing a key in the ignition, if you don't pay attention your interior and exterior lights will stay on and your battery will drain) The brakes have started to roll which makes me weary if I ever am in a jam. This has got to be the biggest headache known to man. At less than 11,000 miles my check oil light went on, I'm not sure this was a wise decision. It's time to breakup!
Needed more testing w/women drivers - 2015 Audi A3
By Peg S - October 3 - 2:37 pm
I just traded in my Audi A4 for an A3 this spring and am, in general, pretty happy with it. I bought the most tricked out model with driver assist, auto braking, etc/. No one -- I repeat -- no one does driver friendly technology the way Audi does. It's one of the reasons I love the brand. Every time I drive my husband's Mercedes, I cringe at having to deal with an illogical navigation system. I love the car's handling with the exception that it can be a bit trickier than my A4 on curves - perhaps because of the more narrow wheel base. The reason I say that a little more testing with women drivers would have been helpful is because the car lacks a couple of features that a woman will notice. Unlike my A4, the A3 does not have the automatic seat settings so every time I get in the car after having it valet parked, I inevitably have to move the seat back in position. But the thing that drives me absolutely nuts is that the A3 offers ONLY the options of having a driver's door open with the keyless OR all 4 doors. Gentleman - what exactly do you think a lady does with her larger size handbag? Hint: we do not hike it over the console!!!! We put it in the back seat, which means that you should have offered the setting to open only the two doors on the driver's side or allow the doors to open independently. Now, I have no choice but to use the 4-door setting, which makes me more vulnerable to things like carjacking when I get in my car in a parking garage.
Audi vs BMW - 2015 Audi A3
By DogDays - August 16 - 10:15 am
I turned in my leased BMW for an Audi and am not sure I may the right decision. Went with Audi because of the advertised MPG and it's sportiness. I definitely DO NOT get the advertised MPG- I am getting about 28mpg for LA highway/traffic driving. The biggest headache (esp if you surf) is that the Audi does not come with any type of emergency, valet or plastic key. Instead all you get is 2 gigantic fobs. If you surf, you are SOL. I've called Audi, I've called the dealership and many locksmiths and for some unknown, illogical reason Audi USA has opted to not make an emergency key. This is a huge inconvenience. You can take the key apart but if you lease, you'll be responsible for returning 2 functioning keys. Bottom line is that I wish I stuck with BMW!
You get a leaky roof with an Audi Convertible??? - 2015 Audi A3
By Cookie's Audi - July 25 - 4:58 pm
My A3 has been in the shop a total of 3 visits / 30 days. One visit was never recorded with Audi after 7 days of trying to trouble shoot and duplicate the leaking, which they never did get to leak....supposedly. Took it in twice to a dealer with it physically and they still said I was imagining things. REALLY DISAPPOINTING AND VERY FRUSTRATING after I had such high expectations of buying a luxury European car such as Audi AND FOR THE PRICE. The convertible button is located on the lower console but my puppy (45 pounds) steps on it, it starts rolling up. One other time he stepped on the power button and the doors locked with my key fob sitting on my seat, he stepped on the lock button on the key fob....glad the windows were down partially and I could reach my key. Lesson learned there and really pretty stupid of me to leave my puppy in the car to talk to the mailman, but thought they might make it a bit harder than that to lock yourself out. Surprised the key fob isn't deactivated if detected in the car. Pinch protection on the windows was not working, one day I went to my car after it poured rain for 3 hours and drivers window was down 1/3 of the way and the interior door, seat and floor were soaked. This happened with the passenger rear window as well. The Audi connect never stayed connected, had to go through a big process every time I tried to use it and log in again and again, with a pin and other annoying login criteria, it was only a 3 month trial. After that you pay $500/year for the service and as far as I could tell, you only received a satellite image of the navigation, which for that price I am ok with 3D. Navigation seems really outdated even with the most current version....supposedly. The one thing good about my car is the ride. I do enjoy the handling and peppy pick up, VERY SLOW acceleration which they say because it has a clutch system, which I thought would be instant. Probably should have saved myself $20k and bought a Beetle convertible - same options and details since they are made by the same company. The convertible is lumpy and creases easily. Large amount of road noise which I believe is associated with the top leaking since it is not sealing properly. The Quattro is very nice in the winter. Glitchy annoyances like after closing convertible it turns my heater on full blast and it's 90 degrees out. If you switch from radio screen to navigation it goes to radio stations in the area not the presets that it was on so you have to switch back and hit the preset button again. I could go on and on......I would pass if I were you!!
Great car, not perfect. - 2015 Audi A3
By Aron Ma - July 21 - 8:23 pm
Pros: Low MSRP for a luxury car. Interior was extremely well built. Very quiet ride, very comfortable. Driving was great besides acceleration. Good fuel economy if you don't drive it very hard. Cons: Tight headroom for the backseat. Subpar cargo capacity, less than a BMW 3 series. Slow acceleration. I think this car is amazing! If you don't mind the cargo being slightly smaller than average, I'd say this is the best compact car EVER! Besides, the cargo space is enough unless your carrying something huge, in which case you don't want ANY compact sedan. Be aware that this is my opinion on this car, your experience will most likely be different.
Horrible experience with Audi A3 Cabriolet - 2015 Audi A3
By sairamkumar - June 4 - 8:10 pm
I leased a new 2015 Audi A3 Cabriolet from Audi Palo Alto in October. A few weeks back as the car was climbing a hill enroute to Lombard street in San Francisco in Traffic, it started slipping backwards and refused to accelerate upwards. The cars behind me naturally honked and drivers were mad at my car not only blocking traffic but slipping backwards. When I switched off the car and tried restarting it would not start for 10 min. After 10 min, it started again and went up 100 feet and again slipped backwards. Somehow after an hour long traumatic experience, I got out of the hill. Following this, I had a horrible experience with the service team at Audi Palo Alto too...