The Audi A3 Sedan is an affordable premium compact, attractive and fun to drive, with the same design expertise, technology and driving dynamics of Audi’s full-size luxury models.
Three trims are offered for 2017 – Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige – priced from $31,200 to $40,150.
Only one engine is available – down from three for the previous model. It’s a turbocharged 2.0-liter, 186-horsepower four-cylinder engine, with the choice of a new seven-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission with front-wheel drive, or a six-speed S-tronic transmission with Quattro all-wheel drive for $3,000 more. In all-wheel-drive models, the engine is tuned to produce 220 horsepower.
A pioneer in turbocharger technology, Audi brings the benefits of a larger engine in a smaller size. The front-wheel drive A3 is EPA rated at 26 mpg city/35 highway/29 combined, while the all-wheel drive achieves 24 city/31 highway/27 combined. Stop/Start technology helps with fuel efficiency.
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The exterior has been refreshed for a sportier, more-aggressive appearance, starting with an all-new front fascia with a high-gloss Singleframe grille; new “undercut” headlight design with new light signatures for both Xenon Plus and optional full LED applications; lower front bumper styling and rear bumper with a diffuser-insert design; LED taillights with updated light signature; and new wheel designs, including standard 17-inch five-spokes and available 18-inch five-double spokes with two-tone gray polished finish.
Inside, you’ll find greater attention to detail, functional refinement and additional driver-focused technologies. Details include standard Micrometallic Silver inlays or optional Aluminum Mistral inlays, and an Aluminum Interior Package highlighting air vents, door handle surrounds, mirror, and window controls.
New technologies include the awesome available Virtual Cockpit with a 12.3-inch retractable screen, and smartphone integration. The Technology package ($3,000) also brings Audi MMI Navigation Plus with MMI Touch, Audi Connect PRIME & PLUS, and Audi side assist with rear cross-traffic assist.
For this review, I drove a beautiful Cosmic Blue Metallic ($575) A3 Premium with quattro all-wheel drive and Rock Gray interior, base price $34,200. My Audi included a Premium Plus package for $3,250, which included the 18-inch wheels with all-season tires, smartphone interface, and Mistral inlays.
The addition of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay for 2017 allows access to navigation, telephone, music, and certain third-party apps, controlled through the MMI system, by voice, or steering-wheel controls.
The package also included an eight-way power front passenger seat with four-way lumbar (standard on the driver’s seat), heated front seats, Audi advanced key, auto-dimming interior mirror with compass, high-gloss aluminum window surrounds, and the S-line exterior, with aluminum doorsills with S logo.
Also included was Parking System Plus. Parking System Plus detects when the vehicle is close to an object, with the standard rear view camera providing additional visibility when backing.
Advanced key can be programmed to unlock all doors or only the driver’s door when the key is within range. The key can also be programmed to position the driver’s seat and mirrors when the door is unlocked. With the key within range, the vehicle can be locked with the touch of a button on the driver’s door handle.
The S-line exterior boosted my A3’s aggressive appearance with high-gloss black slats in the grille, larger wheels filling the wheel arches, lower suspension, exclusive sportier bumpers, more-aggressive body panels with larger air vents, deeper side skirts, posher headlights, and fender badges.
Full LED headlights and LED taillights with dynamic turn signals were included in the LED Lighting Package for $1,050.
Nine exterior colors are available for this model – Ibis White and Brilliant Black at no extra charge, and Nano Gray Metallic, Tango Red Metallic, Mythos Black Metallic and more for $575. Interiors come in Black, Chestnut Brown, and Rock Gray.
The interior also had S line features, including nicer sport seats with leather upholstery; a flat-bottom, leather-wrapped, three-spoke sport steering wheel; and perforated leather on the shifter.
S-line models don’t come with any extra technology, which remains optional. Mine included the Technology Package. Virtual Cockpit, an expanded, configurable, driver-focused, fully digital instrument cluster, enhances infotainment viewing (radio, phone, other media) and navigation with large 3-D Google Map images – impressive on the large screen – (requires Audi Connect), supported with 4G LTE where available.
Audi Connect PRIME & PLUS starts with basic assistance and security services such as SOS calling, Online Roadside Assistance, Stolen Vehicle Locator, and Service Request.
PRIME adds Google Earth with Street View and Voice Search, myAudi Destinations, over-the-air Map Data Updates, Semi-Dynamic Route Guidance with traffic; fuel prices, parking info, music streaming, internet radio, Twitter; Geofencing, speed alert, curfew alert, parking position, remote lock/unlock, and vehicle status reports. Connect PLUS allows up to eight devices to be connected to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
MMI Navigation with Touch has a revised touch-sensitive control knob, allowing the operator to scribble commands with a finger. Two touch-keys flank the knob for menu functions, including navigation, entertainment, and more. Music selections, hands-free calling, directions, and more can also be accessed using voice control or standard MMI controls. The MMI system results in a comfortable balance of simplicity, intuitiveness and elegance.
SiriusXM All-Access is standard, and includes over 160 channels such as sports, talk, comedy, inspiration, news, traffic, and weather, and allows listening on a Mac or PC, and, with the free SiriusXM app, on an iPad, iPod touch, most smartphones and more. Streaming includes features such as custom mix, artist search and On Demand.
The A3’s back seat and trunk take a hit due to its smaller size, with 10 cubic feet of cargo space – enough for a golf bag or a couple of pieces of luggage. Folding the rear seats does help with hauling longer items – several lengths of pipe for a project, for example – with the width still limited.
Adults can sit in the rear seats, with 35.1 inches of legroom, but the rear is best left to children. All rear positions have LATCH for child seats. Front passenger and driver were comfortable, with 41.2 inches of legroom.
Driver Assist technology included adaptive cruise control with stop and go, which maintained a preset safe distance to vehicles in front, and slowed or accelerated with the flow of traffic, even coming to a complete stop in slower traffic. That feature was a little disconcerting at first, with a feeling of dread as my A3 closed in on the stopped vehicle.
Active lane assist operates at speeds above 40 mph, detecting if the A3 is drifting out of its lane without signaling. It alerts the driver and nudges the vehicle gently back into the intended lane, if necessary.
Forward collision mitigation is capable of slowing or stopping the A3 in the event of an imminent rear-ending of the vehicle ahead, and is standard on all models. Pre-sense basic and pre-sense front prepare the vehicle by precharging the brakes, warning the driver and partially braking. The system also prepares the vehicle by closing the side windows and panoramic sunroof and tightening the front seat belts.
My A3 had plenty of power out of the gate and for overcoming on the highway; and driving was easy and effortless.
Cabin noise was pleasantly low; and parking was easy because of the compact size coupled with parking sensors and a rearview camera. Styling was top-end, with leather touch points and unique interior trim.
With $7,875 in options and $950 destination charges, my A3 delivered for $43,025.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.