I’ve never actually reviewed a car before on here; I’ve been tempted to write up my experiences with my various cars over the years, just never got around to it. Well Audi and The Collection reached out to me asking me if I would be interested in test driving an Audi A3 for a week, so of course I said yes. My first car was a 1999 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T, so I have fond memories of VW cars. The Audi A3 recently redesigned for the US market for the 2015 model year, no longer sports the hatchback of previous models, so it doesn’t look like a slightly sleeker VW Golf anymore, and is now a sedan; I am guessing Americans don’t appreciate hatchbacks yet.
- Pros: Great ride, quiet, affordable luxuries, great first luxury car.
- Cons: Turbo lag, occasionally jerky drive, fuel economy was mixed.
I was driving the 1.8TFSI engine with navigation and sunroof. This car is a 1.8l four-cylinder engine with a turbo attached. This is effectively the evolution of the engine that I had in my 1999 passat, just with 15 years of innovation added to it. This engine puts out around 170hp according to Audi’s specs, which means it does 0-60 in about 7 seconds give or take. The interesting thing about this engine is that there is a slight lag from 0-10mph but then from 10-60mph it really catches up. This is likely due to turbo lag, which I’ve seen in past vehicles I’ve driven. My 2013 Ford Escape has a 2.0L turbo ecoboost engine which has a bit of lag but at lower speeds (0-5mph).
Highway cruising is where the A3 excels though, once you’re past the turbo lag threshold you can really get up to speed comfortably without much trouble. The A3 was up to highway speeds of 70MPH before I realized it. The highway is also where the Audi A3 shines from a fuel economy standpoint. On the highway I was averaging close to 29-30MPG, the advertised rate is 33mpg on the highway and 23 in the city. My experiences in the city were closer to 18-19mpg average though. I tend to get lower overall gas mileage on my cars because I drive lots of shorter trips and according to Ford, my engine never gets warmed up enough to maximize fuel economy, so I assume the same occurred with the A3.
One of the first things you’ll notice about the A3 is the fit and finish of the interior. Everything seems solidly built, including the doors which give a resounding thunk, and not a flimsy sound like some other cars in the category. The Audi A3 is very well insulated so you don’t hear the road much, it is definitely quieter than my Escape, and as quiet as my last car, a Lexus IS250.
Audi has updated their in dash entertainment/info system for 2015 to improve bluetooth integration with phones. I was able to quickly and easily pair my iPhone to the system and take calls over the hands free system. Despite the nice jog dial control for the MMI system, the user interface is kind of counter-intuitive. I am looking forward to Apple’s car play system being incorporated by more vendors. The MMI system works way better than Microsoft’s Sync in my ford, despite the Sync having a more intuitive touch screen interface. Each system has its tradeoffs, however the fact there are 7 tactile interfaces in addition to the jog dial center knob means that controlling the displays and the various computer systems takes some getting used to. That being said there is a definite advantage to it being at resting level and tactile, means you can control much of the interface without taking your eyes off the road. This proves useful while driving at highway speeds. Whether or not this is a moot point because of the voice command systems all the new cars have in this class, I don’t know, but it is something to consider. I can imagine quite a few people never exploring 90% of the functionality of the MMI interface because of its steep learning curve.
The 2015 Audi A3 was a lot of fun to drive last week, and I have a very strong suspicion that Audi of America will sell tons of these cars. This will quickly become the most popular Audi on the market as it offers almost as much space as the slightly larger A4 model, but for a few thousand dollars less. The demographics they are targeting with this vehicle tend to range in the young professional / hip 25-35 year olds buying their first luxury car. I can see a lot of rich folks buying these for their teenagers instead of a BMW 1 series, or Mercedes CLA. Regardless of who ends up driving this car, Audi, and parent company VW are going to sell a ton of them. This will definitely help Audi catch up with rivals BMW and Mercedes in US sales. The Euro spec A3 I believe is still a hatchback form.
Special thanks to The Collection & their Audi sales office in Coral Gables for lending me the car for the week. Also check out pics from their launch party on the official blog of the Collection President Ken Gorin