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2015 Audi A3

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2015 Audi A3 Expert Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 7.7

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that this vehicle's diesel engine is involved in a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act issued by the EPA to Volkswagen for producing and selling 4-cylinder diesel cars that include a software device that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants. The EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) determined that these diesel cars emit up to 40 times more pollution than emission standards allow. Recalls, investigations and litigation are currently ongoing.

Audi's player in the rapidly expanding entry-luxury segment is the sub-$30,000 (destination charges not included) 2015 A3 sedan. Happily that price tag comes attached to a car you'd actually want to drive. Both sporty and welcoming, the all-new A3 and sportier S3 may be small, but they're a pleasure to live with – a standard panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon headlights and leather seating only sweeten the deal. The new-for-2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA is a prime competitor, as are the cheaper Acura ILX and Buick Verano, but the A3 distinguishes itself as a traditional premium sedan available with a fuel-efficient diesel engine or in a fun convertible version. A hatchback will eventually join the lineup. We like the A3 and we're guessing luxury buyers looking to downsize will too.

You'll Like This Car If...

You'll like the Audi A3 if you're in the market for a smaller and consequently cheaper luxury car. More traditional than the Mercedes-Benz CLA and more legit than the Acura ILX, the new A3 feels like a real-deal premium car, and an available diesel engine is unique to the class.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The 2015 A3 sedan has its charms, but it is not a major risk taker. For bold styling, the Mercedes-Benz CLA is a better choice, while the BMW 2 Series Coupe is arguably more thrilling to drive. That said, prospective A3 buyers looking for a greater balance between performance, style and value should consider stepping up to the 292-horsepower Audi S3.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 7.7
  • 8.1
  • 7.0
  • 7.1
  • 8.0
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#15

out of 39

Fuel Economy

#37

out of 39

Horsepower
View all rankings

Consumer Rating

9.2 out of 10
View all
consumer ratings
2015 Audi A3 Low/wide front photo What's New for 2015

The Audi A3 and high-performance S3 sedans are all-new for 2015. Joining the lineup are a fuel-efficient diesel engine and a fun-to-drive convertible.

Driving the A3
2015 Audi A3 Front angle view photo

Driving Impressions From the driver's seat, the new A3 feels compact, not in a disconcerting, exposed way, but rather like the unnecessary mass has been removed. Small-car fans will find a lot...

... to like here. The supple ride and quiet cabin help make daily commutes or long-distance travel all the more tolerable. Despite its stable, pleasant demeanor on the freeway, the A3 remains impressively agile in the corners. While the performance-focused Audi S3 rides stiffer, it won't make your daily commute a cringe-worthy affair. Currently, the A3 comes with two turbocharged gasoline powertrains – a front-wheel-drive 170-horsepower 1.8-liter that eagerly sprints to 60 mph in slightly more than seven seconds, or an all-wheel-drive 220-horsepower 2.0-liter that does the run to 60 in less than six seconds. The 2.0-liter TDI diesel offers excellent fuel economy without sacrificing performance. Knocking out gear changes with impressive speed and smoothness, a standard 6-speed dual-clutch S-Tronic transmission rounds out the A3's well-sorted dynamic package.

BANG & OLUFSEN AUDIO
We're suckers for a sweet stereo, and the A3's optional 705-Watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen unit certainly qualifies. We've loved the sweet B&O audio found in Audi's larger vehicles, so it's a real pleasure to see that excellence trickle down to the brand's most frugal offering.

AUDI ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL WITH STOP & GO
Not only can the new A3's adaptive cruise control automatically maintain a pre-selected distance from the car ahead, it can bring the vehicle to stop if needed. Your daydreaming commutes just got a little safer.

2015 Audi A3 Details
2015 Audi A3 Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

With a clean design and just the right amount of sportiness, the new A3's interior is perfectly in line with what you'd expect from Audi. We like the simplicity of the audio controls but the MMI infotainment interface's low placement makes it hard to quickly see which button does what. Given the A3 sedan's small size it's not surprising that the cabin feels cozy, especially if you plan to squeeze three people into the tight rear seats. For maximum A3 enjoyment, we recommend sitting in the much roomier front seats.

Exterior
2015 Audi A3 photo

Sporting standard bi-xenon headlights, a big sunroof and standard 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, even the cheapest 2015 A3 looks great. Buyers looking to amp up the basic sedan can spring for 18-inch and even 19-inch wheels, though we're not sure 19s on a car this size would be the wisest aesthetic choice. Lift the short trunklid, complete with integrated spoiler, and you'll find 12.3 cubic feet of luggage space...at least in the 1.8T trim. Thanks to its all-wheel drive, that cargo capacity is reduced to an even 10 cubic feet in the 2.0T trim.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Filling out the generous standard equipment roster are leather seats, a panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon headlights, LED taillights, Bluetooth with audio streaming, and a 7-inch audio/information screen controlled by Audi's MMI interface. S3 variants add standard Quattro all-wheel drive, 18-inch alloys, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and a sport-tuned suspension. The absence of a standard backup camera is a surprising omission, but otherwise the safety equipment list looks good, featuring a suite of electronic stability assists and eight airbags, including front-occupant knee airbags.

Optional Equipment

The new A3 might be the cheapest of Audi's, but it's still quite possible to load one up with a budget-busting array of options. Standouts include LED headlights, heated seats, rear-seat thorax airbags, a Bang & Olufsen audio system, navigation with Google Earth map imagery, and MMI Touch, a clever touchpad conveniently located atop the MMI controller that recognizes handwritten text entry. There are also several dynamic safety features available like active lane-keep assist, blind-zone warning, dynamic cruise control, and a parking-assist package that bundles front and rear parking sensors with a rearview camera. Lastly, S3 models can be had with a $1,500 Magnetic Ride Control suspension system comprised of three driving modes: dynamic, comfort and individual.

Under the Hood
2015 Audi A3 Engine photo

Powered by either the 1.8-liter or the optional 2.0-liter, the new A3 sedan pulls with welcome gusto. Strangely, the more-powerful all-wheel-drive 2.0-liter A3 is rated one mpg higher in city driving than the 1.8-liter. The 2.0-liter's supposed efficiency advantage should also serve as consolation for cold-weather Audi A3 buyers who are forced to pay for more power just to get all-wheel drive. For the fuel-conscious, the new 2.0-liter TDI diesel offers excellent fuel economy with little penalty in performance. The range-topping S3 pairs a 292-horsepower version of the aforementioned 2.0-liter engine with the A3's standard 6-speed dual-clutch gearbox. Note: Everyone has to pay extra at the pump, as premium fuel is required throughout the A3/S3 lineup.

1.8-liter turbocharged inline-4
170 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm
200 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/33 mpg (sedan), 24/35 mpg (cabriolet)

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
220 horsepower @ 4,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/33 mpg (sedan), 24/32 mpg (cabriolet)

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
292 horsepower @ 5,400-6,200 rpm
280 lb-ft of torque @ 1,900-5,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/31 mpg

2.0-liter turbocharged diesel inline-4
150 horsepower @ 3,500-4,000 rpm
236 lb-ft of torque @ 1,750-3,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 31/43 mpg

Including $895 worth of destination charges, the base price for a 1.8-liter 2015 Audi A3 sedan starts at $30,795. Ignore all restraint, and it's possible to spec a 2.0-liter A3 that costs around $45,000. If you want diesel power, the TDI sedan starts at about $33,600, and if you want the wind in your hair, be prepared to pay $36,600 for the 1.8T convertible and about $39,600 for the drop-top 2.0T quattro. The S3 line begins right around $42,000 and tops out just over $50,000. The Mercedes-Benz CLA boasts a slightly lower starting price, but it comes with fewer cool features. The Acura ILX and Buick Verano are both thousands less expensive, but neither offers the gravitas of the Audi A3. As for resale values, specific figures aren't yet available for the 2015 A3, but Audis typically hold their value well, and should be roughly in line with those of the Mercedes CLA.

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2015 Audi A3 Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
9.2
Out of 10

Based on 20 Ratings for the 2013 - 2016 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.8/10
    Quality
    9.6/10
  • Reliability
    9.4/10
    Performance
    9.5/10
  • Comfort
    9.3/10
    Styling
    9.0/10

Great car, experience, decision

By on Monday, January 11, 2016

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

Pros: "Driving experience, stereo, safety, driver assist"

Cons: "None"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I want to write this review because I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what car to get and also to justify spending more money that I originally planned to. I looked at a number of SUV’s priced in the high 20’s and low 30’s. Ultimately, I either didn’t like the way they looked or how they drove. Most cars – luxury or otherwise – either were not AWD or just looked boring. Besides the look, I wanted a driving experience and a car that was reliable and safe. According to Consumer Reports, the new A3 has great safety rating and the realiability is suprisingly good. After a ton of research, I took a leap of faith on the reliability after owning Japanese cars to this point. I have owned my car for 6 months so I feel it’s a fair time to write a report. Although it is probably too early to comment on reliability, I can talk to other points. First, the driving experience is pretty amazing. It has great pick up and zips around great. I live in the mountains so going uphill or taking curves is effortless (compared to other cars / SUV’s I have driven or been in). Second, I have now driving in snow a number of times and it feels like vecro is stuck to the tires / road. It handles so well that I couldn’t possibly be happier. I never think twice about road conditions when it comes to this car (of course, you have to worry about other drivers). As for appearance, the car is really sharp. I have gotten my fair share of compliments. The interior is smartly designed – everything makes a lot of sense and it’s easy to navigate. The car heats up / cools off really quickly. The seats are adjustable in a lot of ways and super comfortable. And the interior just looks sharp. The headlights are pretty terrific especially the high beam - both make it much easier to drive at night (I live where streets are not really lit up and tend to be really dark). I ended up with the Premium Plus with the premium stereo and the driver’s assist. Actually, I really wanted the stereo after reading a lot of reviews but the driver assist wasn’t on my ‘radar’. Here is something I learned – not all dealers order the cars the same way. One dealership tried to have me believe that unless I bought the highest end A3 that the radio wouldn’t be an option. Then I went to another dealer to find out that they appreciate good sound and order a lot of their cars with the premium stereo but also a couple other features people might want. He tried to convince me that the driver assist is something I would love as well once I used it. He’s a sales guy – I’m probably not going to believe everything he says. Well, he was right. I love having it as well as the cold weather package (especially but not limited to the seat warmers). Needless to say, to this point I am super happy with my purchase. In the end, I might have spent a little more than I initially had wanted to but it was well worth it all the way around. The driving experience, the amazing stereo sound, the peace of mind, and all the other little things confirm that my research and patience really paid off. I hope my review will help you save some time and answer some questions you might have already had."

11 people out of 11 found this review helpful

Excellent Balance of Performance and Features

By on Sunday, November 29, 2015

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,000

10 9.0
overall rating 9 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
9/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "Performance, handling, LED headlights"

Cons: "No power seats"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10

"I am reviewing a A3 Prestige 2.0T Quattro Cabriolet S-line with 19” wheels. The engine is very responsive with little turbo lag and with boost over a wide usable range, it feels more like a 6 than a 4. The suspension and tires have excellent balance of handling and a ride that is firm yet does not feel like riding on a board. Drive select provides choice about sportiness vs. comfort. The summer tires that ship with the 19” wheels are not good for winter. I replaced them with all-weather tires which I will be using year around. Alternate for those in northern climates can be the wheel/winter tire packages that Audi dealers offer. The standard 18” wheels do come with all season tires. The car is also very quiet for a soft top. It is quieter than my previous car that was a hard top convertible. There is particularly less tire noise. Some complain that the MMI system is confusing. It is quite different than most other navigation systems. However it does make sense once you are past the learning curve. I did not think I would be a fan of the pop up screen on the dash but have become one in most lighting conditions. It says clean compared to a touch screen. However in bright lighting conditions when the sun is in certain positions, it looks washed out compared to my other car that has the display recessed into the dash. The rear camera display is wonderful, combining parking monitors, bright view in any light conditions and projected path based on steering wheel position. There is one thing about the parking monitor I do not like however. When first putting the car into reverse frequently it beeps and flashes proximity in the front of the car. I find that distracting. The included blind spot side monitor is very effective. It lights on the inside side of the mirror housing and based on that becomes visible more quickly than those systems that light up on the outside side of the mirror itself. I did not want to consider a soft top convertible that did not have that. All soft tops do not have as much rear visibility as sedans and I felt it was an important safety feature. That decision eliminated some competitive models. Apparent brightness of the LED headlights is superb. That is particularly the case with high beams on very dark country roads. They seem more like daylight driving than even Xenon headlights. The B & O sound system is superb. It sounds very balanced at low volumes and yet plays exceptionally cleanly at high volumes. Clarity with the top down at 75 MPH is not a problem. Depending on trim level, it accepts either 1 or 2 SD cards and will recognize SDXC cars with up to 10,000 songs each. Jukebox has hard drive storage for up to an additional 5,000 songs. The sport seats are supportive yet comfortable even on long rides. Yet there is little excuse for it not to have power seats on a car with a MSRP north of $50k. The seats do adjust just about any way imaginable. Manual seats also make it more difficult on rear seat entry and exit compared to others that have a power button on the top of the seat combined with a lever to tilt it forward. To include a power adjuster for lumbar support, but not for the basic seat functions does not make much sense. Seldom does anyone else drive my car, so lack of power seats was not a deal stopper. However it may be an issue for some others. Trunk space is not large with 9.9 CF with top up and 7 CF with top down. However the shape of the space available makes loading, unloading and what it will store is quite good for its size. Fold down seats in the back further helps when needed. The Quattro system takes up space and replaces a spare tire with a repair/inflating kit. Price of the A3 Prestige as mine is equipped is in the same range as an A5 Cabriolet Premium with less equipment. The A5 is larger, has a more usable back seat and larger trunk. However with the same power train in a heavier car, the A5 is somewhat slower. Some say that the Quattro system on the A5 is more effective than the one on the A3. I cannot compare that. Of course there are other A3 Cabriolets that are significantly less expensive than equivalent A5 models similarly equipped. In the end it may become a choice of the importance of size vs. features."

6 people out of 13 found this review helpful

Should be a lovely car - but.......

By on Friday, November 13, 2015

I don't own this car

10 8.0
overall rating 8 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
8/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
7/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
5/10
Comfort
9/10

Pros: "well built, good value, superb interior"

Cons: "headlights"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4

"My in-laws have just purchased one of these - and it is a lovely, great value for money and incredibly well built. A strong competitor in it's field. However.....The headlights make night driving more than a little awkward - particularly in darker areas. The lights illuminate a sharp, but insufficient "letter slot" view of the road to the point that anything/anyone immediately outside the small area is practically invisible. The dealership claims that this is a deign feature common on European cars - however, it is only present on the A3. I would speculate that this is in fact a design flaw, rather than a feature as it would be present on other models."

7 people out of 15 found this review helpful

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