Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent some quality time with some gas-guzzling brutes. I may have enjoyed every second of these high-horsepower vehicles, but my wallet wasn’t so pleased. This week though, I decided to give my bank account a welcomed break. I took out the 2015 Audi A3 TFSI and put it through the grind.
My test car was the 2015 A3 in a beautiful black-on-black combo. This was the top-level 2.0T quattro model with the S-tronic dual-clutch transmission. Additionally, this particular car is the fully-loaded “Technik” trim, with gizmos such as navigation, LED headlights, a reverse camera, as well as the Bang & Olufsen sound system. Most A3s sold will be of lower, more affordable trim levels, but after spending a few days with this particular one I can’t imagine missing out on the toys this one has.
During my evaluation, I noticed precise power delivery right throughout the powerband; not once was I begging for more power. The 220 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque from the 2.0L turbocharged inline 4-cylinder are more than ample for any sort of commuting required. This engine has been around for many years, and there has been some criticism suggesting that it’s time for an overhaul or a replacement, but I think that it does just fine with the right factory tune. This A3 is the best example of this motor I have seen to date – it’s just perfect.
Quick shifts from the S-tronic dual-clutch transmission only help confirm the brilliant power delivery of this engine. The car always seems to beg to be pushed harder, and in “Sport” mode it’s even more eager. Steering is on the lighter side but tightens up with speed; it’s effortless to handle on my favourite backroads and I thoroughly enjoyed driving each and every one of them with the car. Audi’s trademark quattro all-wheel-drive system is, of course, on board, and means the A3 is a perfect year-round commuter.
Because the A3 is the entry-level car in the Audi lineup, it’s unfortunately plagued with the stigma of having cost-cut materials and behaving more like a Volkswagen than an Audi. Therefore, I will admit to having preconceived notions about the interior of the car. However, I was in for a surprise. The sheer amount of detail in the cockpit of the A3 makes far more expensive luxury cars feel outdated. The beauty of it is that the dashboard oozes elegance and charm without being busy in the slightest. Buttons are scarce, but the dash isn’t covered in touch-sensitive pads either. The black leather seats are very comfortable and surpass my expectations.
Audi’s MMI has been adequately refreshed to not show its age. Navigation graphics are high-resolution and very simple to toggle through. Destinations can be input using the “hand-write” pad in the center of the main MMI controller. Another option box ticked off on my test car is the Bang & Olufsen stereo. My colleagues here at DoubleClutch.ca seem to like this one more than I do – I much preferred the B&O setup in the 2014 BMW X5 xDrive50i I tested a few months ago; it just sounded more crisp to me. I experienced awesome Bluetooth quality throughout my time with the car; voice quality both on my side and from the other side is crystal clear with zero complaints.
Having spent some time with the Volkswagen Jetta GLI earlier this year, I was expecting something relatively similar out of the A3. The A3 does share its motor with the GLI, but with the added twist of quattro and tons more development. Make no mistake, this is not a Jetta. On one drive out from Toronto to the Hamilton area and back, I averaged 5.8L/100km on premium fuel. The A3 does its part to save me fuel, and there is a TDI version coming too.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find very much wrong with the new Audi A3. Even the styling is great, and I’m usually not a huge fan of smaller sedans. In fact, the new A3 is so good that it makes its larger sibling, the A4, feel redundant and old. Until the new one comes in a year or two, I’d be hard-pressed to find any reason at all to opt for the A4. It’s pretty similar in size, it’s far more advanced technologically, and its polarizing styling makes it look fresher. All I ask now is for Audi to please give us the hatchback sooner than later!