Tom Crosby: 2016 Audi A3 sedan continues winning ways

Tom Crosby

The Audi A3 compact luxury sedan is the smallest vehicle Audi makes but it is their biggest seller in the United States. Last year, the peppy, sports-like all-wheel drive five-seater was made especially for the U.S. market and sales skyrocketed with more 2015 Audis sold here than the total of nine previous years. That says a lot about the A3’s appeal.

Audi sweetened the deal for 2016 by adding a new S-line exterior included in our test-drive’s $8,650 Prestige Package and other features like rear-view camera and parking sensors are included in the other two trims – Premium and Premium Plus. Models include convertible, diesel, a high-performance S3 and an electric hybrid scheduled later this year.

Our 2.0-liter TSFI (turbo fuel stratified injection) engine provided more power, less fuel consumption and reduced exhaust emission than the 1.8-liter option. It yielded a decent 27 mpg average. Outfitted with impressive high-tech features and performance, the A3 is slightly slimmer than its predecessor but peppier and extremely well handling with seamless responsiveness and glue-like road grip. The well-modulated ride and leather-everywhere interior make for a relaxed, upscale behind-the-wheel experience.

The A3’s all-wheel Quattro, which modulates power to front and rear wheels on low-profile tires as driving conditions dictate, delivered a comfortable and firm ride with a MacPherson strut front suspension and four-link rear suspension. The interior’s information and entertainment options, along with several integrated technologies, make the A3 attractive to younger, entry-level luxury buyers.

Audi was the first carmaker to integrate features with AT&T’s 4G LTE network for instantaneous response and accuracy. Safety ratings are top and our tester had adaptive cruise control and lane departure assist. A multi-media interface (MMI) uses a pop-up dial to move icons on the 7-inch screen, like a computer, linking Audi connect. It provides high-speed internet access to voice texts, Facebook and Twitter alerts, timely traffic updates, driving directions with Google Earth and Street View, and access to 7,000 Internet radio stations.

Navigation detail was fine but voice recognition sketchy, not always understanding the address, which could be manually inputted. Cargo space is smallish trunk with a spare tire but 60/40 split rear folding seats add capacity. Rear seating is somewhat tight for full-sized adults. Bang Olufsen audio is excellent and the cabin is hush-quiet when desired.

LIKES: Handling, power, technology, luxury fit/finish, quiet, looks

DISLIKES: Rear seating and cargo space, sketchy voice recognition

BOTTOM LINE: A winning move by Audi into U.S. luxury compact sedan market


2016 AUDI A3 2.0 TFSI Quattro (Prestige)

Base price with destination fee: $35,125 ($46,150 as tested)

Curb weight: 3,362 lbs.

Wheelbase: 103.8 inches

Length: 175 inches

Width: 77.2 inches

Engine specs: 2.0-liter, inline 4-cylinder, turbo direct injection

Horsepower: 220 hp at 4,500 rpm

Torque: 258 lbs.-ft. at 1,600 rpm

Transmission: 6-speed automatic w/manual option

EPA Rating: 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway

Range: 14.5-gallon tank, premium fuel

Performance:  0-60 in just under 6 seconds