In Focus

Conquering Hero: Audi A3 Sedan

Audi’s all-new-for-2015 A3 sedan just arrived on American shores and it’s already being heralded as a winner. Sporty? Compact? Luxurious? Efficient? Comfy, four-door family sedan? Check, check, check, check and check again.

For starters, the new A3 is a looker. Audi cheerfully admits that the new model was specifically tailored for the American market — which makes us wonder what “No hatchback” sounds like in German. In any event, it’s the right call: the trim, athletic A3 looks longer than its 175.5 inches and appears ready to pounce even while standing still.

Innovative technology comes into play throughout, starting with a choice of two engines coupled with what Audi calls TFSI (Turbo Fuel Stratified Injection), a combination of direct injection and forced induction turbocharging that creates more power with better fuel efficiency. The standard 1.8-liter 4-cylinder offers 170 horsepower and 200 lbs. per foot of torque, while the optional 2.0 liter cranks out 220 horsepower and 258 lbs. per foot of torque.

Mated to the dual-clutch, six-speed S-Tronic transmission, power is transferred smoothly and quickly. Lightweight construction materials ensure sprightly handling that never feels like it’s coming unglued, even around tight curves.

The technology onslaught continues in the cabin with a James Bond-ish electronically extending screen housed in the dashboard’s center console. It’s a great idea that will surely keep the kids engaged as they crank it up and down repeatedly. Audi’s reputation for fine craftsmanship is on full display throughout, with nice materials, superb fits and finishes, and well-thought-out ergonomics that make commuting — dare we say it — fun.

The base A3, starting at $29,900, comes with leather seats; power driver’s seat; automatic xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and taillights; dual-zone, automatic climate control; and a huge sunroof. Opt for the Premium Plus package ($2,550) and you get 18-inch wheels, an aluminum interior package, heated front seats and keyless entry.

The best part of the Premium Plus package has got to be the 4G LTE data connectivity abilities that turn the A3 into a wireless hotspot. Through Audi Connect, A3 occupants can enjoy read-aloud Facebook and Twitter alerts, access to more than 7,000 Internet broadcast stations, RSS news feeds, navigation with Google Earth and Google Street View, text-to-speech function for email and text messages, access to high-def videos and the ability to make video conference calls. Never go to the office again!

But the good stuff, the stuff you expect to pay for in a luxury vehicle, comes with the Prestige package ($8,450), which enhances the Premium Plus package with an exterior sport kit, LED headlights and a 705-watt, 14-speaker, Bang & Olufsen sound system. It’s what you want, for sure.

Over the next few months, the A3 Sedan will welcome the rest of the brood: a convertible, a diesel, a crossover, an electric hybrid and a high-performance sedan version, the S3. If impressive appearance, comfort and performance are success factors — and they most surely are — then Audi will have a solid home run on its hands with the A3 family.