The compact Audi A3, with prices starting in the low $30,000s, is the latest in 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 have veered away from their brand's DNA, like the Mercedes-Benz CLA, 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.