Although you won’t mistake the A3 for Audi’s quieter and more comfortable-riding higher-priced cars, it handily outscores other entry-level competitors, such as the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe and Mercedes-Benz CLA. This is due to its well-builtcabin, sharp handling, and remarkable fuel economy. We found it to be a thoroughly enjoyable car to drive in most ways, beyond some minor clunkiness and hesitation at low speeds caused by its dual-clutch automatic transmission.
If you enjoy picking up the pace on a twisty two-lane, the A3 could be the car for you. Our testers raved about the responsive steering and taut suspension that guided them smoothly through corners, and helped the little Audi carve deftly through our avoidance maneuver—a test which simulates swerving quickly, with a left-right-left steering sequence, to avoid a vehicle or obstacle on the road. The A3’s strong tire grip also helped it achieve impressively short stopping distances at our track. Our test car’s optional Sport suspension, however, delivered a ride bordering on too firm, with bumps on rough back roads kicking through to the cabin noticeably. Still, we found it more forgiving and livable than its BMW and Mercedes-Benz competitors.
A 201-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission come standard. The transmission’s clunkiness and hesitancy at low speeds (unfortunately all-too-common traits of dual-clutch setups) is mildly annoying, but once underway the engine provides decent power and responsive acceleration. The transmission gives smooth, immediate shifts, enabling the A3 to manage a competitively quick 0 to 60 mph time of 6.8 seconds for our all-wheel-drive test car (front-wheel drive comes standard). If that’s not enough performance for you, Audi offers the S3 model with a 306-hp turbo four-cylinder and the RS 3 with a 401-hp turbocharged five-cylinder engine.