The 2015 Audi A3 reminds us of the original Audi A4 sedan from the 1990s. Now that was a great sport sedan -- small enough to fit into any parking space, capable enough to hang with purpose-built sports cars, and practical enough to schlep you and your friends across town. Today, however, the A4 is larger and more expensive, which is where the excellent new A3 fits in. Modest in stature yet overflowing with features and performance, the 2015 A3 gives us five reasons and then some to deem it one of this year's must-drives.

Upscale Styling Inside and Out

Although the A3 is Audi's entry-level car, its aesthetics are top-notch. On the outside, the A3 just looks like a smaller version of Audi's other sedans, but if anything, it actually looks a bit sportier, with clipped overhangs and an aggressive stance. Inside, the A3 gives up nothing to its pricier siblings, with typical Audi refinement in the materials and controls. We like the simplicity of the center stack, too; rather than an overload of buttons and gadgets, the A3 provides only what you need.

Impressive Value

With a base price of just over $30,000, the A3 is cheaper than some highly optioned family sedans, but get this: It comes with standard features such as xenon headlights, Bluetooth, Audi's MMI interface and a 10-speaker stereo. That's a whole lot of value, especially when you factor in the prestige of the Audi brand. You pay less for the A3, but you don't necessarily get less.

Strong, Efficient Engines

Even the base 1.8T 4-cylinder engine makes a respectable 170 horsepower and returns an excellent 33 miles per gallon on the highway. If you want more get-up-and-go, the 2.0T 4-cylinder pumps out 220 hp and gets the same 33 mpg hwy. In any A3, the engine's going to be a highlight, featuring ample turbocharged torque and smooth acceleration all the way to redline.

Available All-Wheel Drive

Like some other Audi sedans, the A3 1.8T starts with front-wheel drive in case you don't need quattro all-wheel drive. The legendary quattro system comes standard on 2.0T models, and it turns the A3 into an all-season all-star. No matter what climate you live in, the A3's up to the challenge. That gives it a leg up on rival sedans such as the Acura ILX that are exclusively front-wheel drive.

Premium Driving Feel

The A3 may be small, but it drives like a true luxury car. On the highway, it's quiet and stable at any speed, but when you push it through a corner, it hunkers down like a sport sedan, especially with all-wheel drive. It only takes a few miles in the saddle to realize that the A3 is an Audi through and through; it's just easier to park than the others.

AutoTrader Says

The 2015 Audi A3 is a lot of car for the money, and it might even be more fun than its pricier stablemates. You have to try Audi's latest star.

author photo

Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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