ABS and ESC standard. Side and head protection air bags standard. Rear side air bags available.
The compact Audi A3 was part of a wave of small luxury-branded models for buyers who have one eye on their budget and the other on gas prices. Derived from the Volkswagen Golf, the A3 might lack the posh, roomy environment and long list of features found in true luxury cars, but it's a solid, agile and sophisticated sedan that's enjoyable to drive. And, unlike some other entry-level luxury cars that veered away from their brand's DNA, this small car actually feels, drives and looks like an Audi.
With its agile handling, minimal body lean and quick response to steering inputs, the A3 carves up winding country roads with confidence. The steering is a bit vague on center and at low speeds, but it firms up nicely at higher speeds. The ride is quite firm, particularly at low speeds, but it does a commendable job of absorbing and isolating most bumps.Our front-wheel-drive A3 Premium came with Volkswagen's 170-hp, 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The only transmission is a six-speed automated manual. There is ample power once underway, but power delivery isn't fluid and the car feels flat off the line, leading to complaints from staffers about hesitation when pulling into traffic. We measured a commendable but not outstanding 27 mpg overall.To get Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive, you'll need to step up to the livelier 220-hp turbocharged four cylinder. The interior is nicely finished and fairly quiet. The front seats are very comfortable. The rear seat is cramped, but this not surprising for a compact car.As you might expect at this price, you won't find a plush Audi cabin in the A3. The interior quality is pretty good, but it's rather businesslike, bordering on austere. The controls are almost identical to other Audi models and they can be somewhat complicated to use at first.Unlike the previous A3, which came only as a hatchback, the initial A3s were all sedans. A hatchback version with a plug-in hybrid powertrain was introduced for 2016.Thrifty diesel models and sporty S3 versions were also available.