Bigger is not always better. At least that’s the latest trend in the automobile luxury class, where small, entry-level sedans are quite the item.
What’s driving the interest and sales? Millennial-aged people who are young professionals want a vehicle that’s upscale, has some techie characteristics, good performance and handling, and won’t require a huge car payment or loan agreement.
One of the class leaders for 2015 could be the Audi A3, which has been smartly redesigned. It fits many of the aforementioned traits, compact in size, impressive power, solid handling, refinement, and appealing price tag, starting at just under $30,000. And one more thing: it gets between 23-33 mpg.
2015 Audi A3
Performance: 1.8-liter turbocharged, four cylinder,170 horsepower; 2.0-liter turbocharged, four cylinder, 22 horsepower
Mileage estimate: 23-33 mpg
Estimated price: $29,900-$38,600
Warranty: 4 years/50,000 miles; drivetrain: 4 years/50,000 miles; roadside assistance: 4 years/unlimited; corrosion: 12 years/unlimited
The revised Audi A3, a four-door compact luxury sedan with seating for five people, has some competition, but not that much. The short list of competitors includes the BMW 320i, 2015 Volvo S60, Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, Buick Verano and Acura ILX. The A3 can make a legitimate case for being the best of the bunch.
But not everything is perfect with the A3. Interior space is an issue. The front seat is fine, providing sufficient comfort. However, the back seat is lacking both head and leg room, while the moonroof is an impediment for head room. The A3 also has a small 10-cubic-foot trunk that can barely accommodate a golf bag.
The A3 comes with an impressive list of standard features that includes, automatic xenon headlights; sunroof; eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar); leather upholstery; Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity; MMI electronics interface (with center console controls and dash-top rising screen); 10-speaker sound system with a CD player, satellite and HD radio, and SD card slot.
There are two turbocharged engines available with the A3, and both have a six-speed automated manual transmission (no manual transmission is offered). The front-wheel-drive A3 features a 1.8-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that produces 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque. It goes 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds.
The alternative is the more powerful Quattro, which is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four cylinder that generates 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Driven here for a week, the Quattro goes a very quick 0-60 mph in 5.8 seconds.
Driving impressions for the A3 will mimic a more expensive luxury vehicle. The ride is comfortable, composed and quiet. The A3 is very suitable for commuter driving and also for longer trips where performance and handling are valuable commodities.
As mentioned previously, the interior design is smart and features high-quality materials. The stereo and other controls are not that intuitive, but the high tech nature will appeal to many people.
Overall, the Audi A3 is an impressive small luxury sedan that will definitely attract youthful young car buyers.