2015 Audi A3 SedanPosted on May 14th, 2014
Audi expands its compact line-up with a youthful eye
By Nina Russin
While it might not be easy to produce a good car, the basic formula is simple. If engineers don’t meet driver’s expectations for acceleration, steering, suspension, NVH and braking, little else matters. With regards to design, form should always follow function. Cars shouldn’t look like jukeboxes on wheels or futuristic cartoons.
The guys at Audi get this while other automakers, for inexplicable reasons, do not. Audi’s new compact A3 sedan moves to the front of the pack simply because its product planners made sure everything from the broad sweeps to less obvious details adhered to the same standards as the automaker’s high-end luxury models.
A Bauhaus-inspired design adheres to classic architectural proportions. It is simple, purposeful and aerodynamic. And while the two-liter engine might not have the heart stopping acceleration of some of the brand’s larger supercharged blocks, it is plenty for getting the job done. The dual-clutch automatic transmission is crisp and appealing, and the suspension is pure, nimble Audi.
Base price for the test car is $32,900, excluding the $895 delivery charge. Options include voice-activated navigation, heated front seats, side mirrors and windshield washers, an aluminum style package and iPod interface. Final MSRP is $36,645.
Designer Dany Garand drew his inspiration from the Bauhaus: a pre-World War II center for architectural and furniture design. Bauhaus founder, Walter Gropius, said: “Architecture begins where engineering ends.” Who could better inspire car design?
The sedan’s exterior utilizes coupe-like proportions, with a long front end, aerodynamic passenger cabin and snub decklid. Lines throughout the exterior are crisp and purposeful, emphasizing key elements such as Audi’s signature trapezoidal grille and the wheel wells. There is a strong beltline leading the eye from the front to the back of the car, where the tail lamps and rear spoiler create strong horizontal lines to emphasize the sedan’s wide track.
The interior, particularly the instrument panel, may strike many observers as Spartan. Audi’s multi-media interface integrates controls for all infotainment systems into a single mouse device on the center console. In lieu of a mass of knobs and buttons, the center of the instrument panel contains two air vents and a pop-up screen.
The optional aluminum trim on the test car is quite attractive, but this writer is less enthralled with the plastic material used on the instrument panel. It lacks the pleasing tactile quality of other materials on the interior.
Power seating controls are easy to operate, with plenty of lower lumbar support for longer drives. Redundant steering wheel controls enable the driver to change audio channels and perform other simple tasks with minimal distraction.
Test drive in Arizona
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to drive the new compact sedan on some canyon roads and highways in Northern California. This week was a chance to live with the A3 as a daily driver, on a combination of surface streets and highways at home in Phoenix, Arizona.
Since Audi went for the heart of the market with the 2015 model, fans of the former A3 Sportback may feel a bit let down. A manual gearbox is available on the 1.8-liter model but not the 2-liter. And of course, a sedan is by nature more conservative than a hatch. But a new Sportback is coming, as are cabriolet, S-line, turbo diesel and plug-in hybrid options.
Audi shares a focus on fuel economy with other OEMs in order to meet the stricter 2016 C.A.F.E. standards. This explains the switch over to electric power steering, weight reduction measures throughout the chassis, and the use of relatively small engines.
While the engines are small, they are not anemic. The 220-horsepower 2-liter block in the test car develops up the 258 foot-pounds of torque as low as 1600 rpm, and maintains it to 4400 rpm.
The dual-clutch automatic transmission reduces pumping losses as compared to a traditional torque converter design, but doesn’t suffer from the rubber band feel of some continuously variable automatics. The electric power steering unit is properly tuned to the car with solid on-center response.
Quattro all-wheel drive on the test car automatically sends engine power to the wheels with the best traction for better handling on rain or snow-covered roads. Braking is firm and linear.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. The test car does not have a rear backup camera, but I had no problems backing out of parking spots or monitoring cross traffic. Over-the-shoulder visibility is similarly satisfactory, making it easy to keep an eye on vehicles in the adjacent lanes.
The interior is quiet, so passengers in both rows can converse on the highway or enjoy the audio system.
Connectivity has become the industry’s newest buzzword for good reason. Buyers want the means to communicate inside the car in similar fashion to their homes or offices. For this reason, Audi is offering 4G LTE within the car, as well as features such as Google earth. Chipsets are easy to access and replace during the life of the vehicle.
The Audi A3 sedan comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control and tire pressure monitoring.
Audi produces the A3 at its Gyor, Hungary assembly plant.
Like: A stylish sport sedan with solid performance and available 4G LTE connectivity features.
Dislike: Manual gearbox is not available with the two-liter engine. Vinyl material on instrument panel is unattractive.
Model: A3 sedan 2.0T quattro S tronic
Base price: $32,900
As tested: $36,645
Horsepower: 220 Hp @ 4500 rpm
Torque: 258 lbs.-ft. @ 1600 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 24/33 mpg city/highway
One response to “2015 Audi A3 Sedan”
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