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Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the Audi A3 2.0T Premium include 2.0L I-4 186hp intercooled turbo engine, 7-speed auto-shift manual transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, SIDEGUARD curtain 1st and 2nd row overhead airbags, driver and passenger knee airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, automatic air conditioning, 17" aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control, electronic stability.
Starting at: $31,200
Flexible and refined, the zippy new turbocharged engine is a winner, whether with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The paddle-shifting 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission delivers ultra-rapid shifts, although sometimes clunks at low speeds.
The heavier Cabriolet is a bit less zippy, and there’s some slight shake over bad roads, but it’s still nicely composed.
The rigid Golf platform allows the A3 to use a fairly soft suspension without adversely affecting the above-average handling. The electric power steering is light but direct. The available sports suspension can be stiff over expansion strips, but the seats in the Sport Package have better bolstering help keep the driver in place.
The battery pack in the environmentally correct Sportback e-tron is mounted low, which helps bring down the center of gravity and help the handling. It weighs 500 more pounds than the sedan, but the hybrid engine/motor makes 258 pound-feet of torque, to keep it sprightly. An EV mode selects electric power for motoring at slow speeds.
The A3’s trim proportions and clean lines help it look classy when compared to its rivals with uninspiring designs. The Cabriolet is especially cool, with its folding cloth top nicely incorporated into its stubby design, just 175 inches long.
The conservative cabin design is attractive, with a chunky steering wheel and simple horizontal dashboard that comes from the A3’s Volkswagen roots, and distinctive round vents. The 7.0-inch MMI infotainment screen rises from the top of the dashboard, as the system’s knobs and buttons are easy to reach on the center console, including a touchpad that recognizes handwriting. An optional high resolution LCD screen that replaces the conventional gauges and can be set up with Google satellite view or images of analog gauges.
The materials are nice, including leather standard or sport seats. But both seats have short cushions, and legroom is tight for tall drivers. With its small footprint, the A3 can’t be expected to have much interior room, but Audi hasn’t done a great job of getting the most out of the design. The rear is cramped, only suitable for short periods of time for adults. High road noise doesn’t help the comfort of passengers.
The hatchback offers a more versatile cargo area.
The Audi A3 is a practical size and shape, especially the hatchback, but there’s not enough room in the rear for it to work. The powertrain is strong, with a new 2.0-liter turbo and 6-speed twin-clutch automatic, although the transmission can be faulted for its occasional clunking at slow speeds. The Sportback e-tron hybrid gets 34 miles per gallon, but you could get that in a car costing half as much.
The 2017 Audi A3 comes in sedan, cabriolet, and hatchback versions, with a choice of powerplants, in Premium, Premium Plus, and Prestige trim levels.
Standard equipment includes leather upholstery, power driver’s seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, HD satellite radio, Xenon headlamps, LED daytime running lights, rain sensor for wipers, panoramic moonroof, and automatic emergency braking. An S-Line package adds special trim to Premium models.
Premium Plus adds heat to the front seats, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; while the Prestige adds a 705-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen sound system, LED headlamps with automatic dimming, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors with cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping, and navigation.
Rear side impact airbags are optional, along with WiFi hotspot capability.
A Sport Package firms up the suspension and adds bolstering to the front seats. The sports suspension, without the seats, can be a stand-alone option.