New Car Review

2017 Audi A3: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader December 2016

The 2017 Audi A3 puts luxury into a compact dimension. This is Audi's entry-level model, but it still has all the qualities for which this company is renowned, including cool interior and exterior design and high-quality build and materials.

The A3 range includes sedan and cabriolet body styles. There's also a plug-in hybrid hatchback version (the E-tron, reviewed separately) and a hot S3 sedan (also reviewed separately). In this class, the A3 is one of the best.

What's New for 2017?

The front end has been updated to bring the A3's looks more into line with the rest of the company's lineup. The cabin has also seen a minor freshening, making Audi's Virtual Cockpit available. Front-wheel-drive models have a new 7-speed transmission. The 1.8T engine has been ditched, leaving 2.0-liter turbocharged engines to power the regular A3 range. Also, a forward-collision mitigation system is now standard across the range.

What We Like

Overall premium feel; satisfying driving experience; respectable fuel consumption; impressive crash-test performance; leather and panoramic sunroof come as standard

What We Don't

Small trunk; dashboard seems sparse; options are pricey

How Much?

$32,150-$47,500

Fuel Economy

The basic 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine is found in front-wheel-drive versions. It produces 186 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque and is linked to a 7-speed dual-clutch (automated manual) transmission. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 26 miles per gallon in the city and 35 mpg on the highway. The cabriolet version achieves 25 mpg city/34 mpg hwy.

Models equipped with quattro all-wheel drive have a more powerful turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine that develops 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The transmission here is a 6-speed dual-clutch unit, and the EPA rating is 24 mpg city/31 mpg hwy for the sedan or 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy for the cabriolet.

Both engines have a stop/start feature.

Standard Features & Options

The 2017 Audi A3 comes in Premium, Premium Plus or Prestige trims.

The 2.0T Premium ($32,150) has leather seating surfaces, 17-inch alloy wheels, panoramic sunroof (sedan only; the cabriolet has a power-folding fabric roof), an 8-way power adjustable driver's seat, xenon headlights with LED running daytime lights and LED taillights, 60/40-split folding rear seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, parking sensors front and rear, a rearview camera, rain-sensing wipers, heated mirrors, a 7-in screen for the Audi Multi-Media Interface, a USB port, an SD card slot, Bluetooth, HD Radio and satellite radio. The sedan has a 10-speaker audio system; the cabriolet has a 9-speaker setup.

Premium Plus ($35,400) adds 18-in alloy wheels, keyless entry/start, heated front seats, an 8-way power adjustable front passenger seat, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, a self-dimming rearview mirror, and the S line cosmetic package.

Prestige ($41,100) offers full LED headlights with automatic high beams, Audi's Virtual Cockpit (a 12.3-in configurable LCD screen in the instrument cluster), adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, a blind spot monitoring system, power-folding side mirrors with auto-dimming on the driver's side, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hot spot, a 14-speaker/705-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system (sedan) or a 13-speaker/625-watt setup (cabriolet), navigation and gesture control for the infotainment system.

Options include a Technology package with active lane assist, a blind spot monitoring system and adaptive cruise control. A Sport package contains sport seats, Audi drive select (separate driving modes from Comfort to Sport) and a flat-bottomed steering wheel with paddle shifters. A lowered sport suspension and rear-passenger thorax/side airbags are also available.

The sedan's trunk space measures 12.3 cu ft., although the all-wheel drive hardware knocks that down to 10 cu ft. That's still easily enough for a couple of golf bags. The cabriolet offers 9.9 cu ft. with the roof up or 7.1 cu ft. when it's folded away.

Safety

Thanks to its chassis and airbag setup (which includes knee airbags for the driver and front passenger, plus side airbags with inflatable curtains), the A3 sedan earned a Top Safety Pick designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, with top scores of Good across the board.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the sedan five out of five stars overall, with four stars for front impact protection, five for side impacts and four in the rollover test. The cabriolet has not been crash-tested.

Behind the Wheel

Although its interior comes across as somewhat small, the A3 feels well-proportioned and has sufficient rear room to encourage prolonged drives with four passengers, largely thanks to the car's more conventional C-pillar, which doesn't emulate the coupelike look currently in fashion.

Extensive use of aluminum helps keep a check on weight, so acceleration and handling benefit significantly. When enhanced by all-wheel drive, the A3 tackles twisty roads with strong grip and precise changes of direction. Body control is excellent, making the A3 feel as capable of attacking a curvy canyon road as a sports car.

The soft-top Cabriolet seats four (as opposed to the sedan's five), but accommodation in the back is limited by needing somewhere to stow the folded roof. When the roof is up, it does a good job of keeping noise at civilized levels.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 Acura ILX -- It's hard to shake the idea that this is really just a posh Honda Civic.

2017 BMW 228i -- BMW has a compelling package with its 2 Series, although this coupe starts at a higher price than the A3 and gets even pricier for the 235i.

2017 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class -- The CLA is still fresh and stylish -- and still the cheapest way to own a new Benz.

Used BMW 3 Series -- For the price of a new A3, a recent certified pre-owned 3 Series offers more space, plenty of driving fun and just as much Euro-style status.

Autotrader's Advice

All-wheel drive is a $3,000 option, but it's great for bad weather and/or grippy performance. With the A3, it also means a more powerful engine. If neither of those things are considered essential, then it could be smarter to go for a less expensive front-wheel-drive version, which offers more leeway regarding the choice of options.

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2017 Audi A3: New Car Review - Autotrader