- Completely redesigned and returns for 2015 after a one year hiatus
- Now a sedan or cabriolet, no more hatchback
- Lots of standard premium features such as a panoramic sunroof and Bluetooth connectivity
Completely redesigned for 2015, the Audi A3 returns after a one year hiatus as a sedan or cabriolet instead of a hatchback, and packed with features and luxury.
The A3, which we last saw as an entry-level hatchback for the Audi brand, has been given a complete redesign that includes a new body style (cabriolet) and a four-door sedan to replace the outgoing hatchback. In the A3’s short hiatus, the luxury market has changed – you can get a Mercedes-Benz CLA250 for under 30-grand, or a Lexus CT 200h for about the same, each of which had a more modern design and better features than the outgoing A3 which meant Audi had plenty of work to do.
From the outside, the 2015 A3 looks like part of the family, with balanced proportions and Audi’s signature symmetry. It is the smallest car Audi makes, 10-inches shorter than the A4 and with a seven-inch shorter wheelbase to boot, on both sedan and cabriolet models. The A3 convertible has two-doors and seats four instead of five (like the sedan), along with a power-folding soft top that opens/closes in under 18 seconds at speeds of up to 31 mph. (Note that only the sedan will be available at launch in early 2014, while the cabrio version will debut later in the year.) LED daytime running lamps come standard, with full LED headlamps optional.
Audi will offer two trims of the A3, the 1.8T and 2.0T which get different engines. The 1.8T features a 170-hp, turbocharged 1.8-liter inline-four that makes 200 pounds-feet of torque. Step up to the 2.0T and you get the same 220-hp, turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four found in the A4 that makes 258 pounds-feet of torque. Both come with a six-speed automated manual. The 1.8T is front-wheel drive, while the 2.0T gets Audi’s full-time Quattro all-wheel drive standard. Fuel economy ratings are very close between the two models, the 1.8T is actually slightly worse at 23/33 mpg city/highway compared to the 2.0T’s 24/33 mpg.
Inside, the new A3 has a minimalist interior that has a 7-inch display that rises from the dashboard as its centerpiece. This new “floating” screen look is similar to the setups found in the Mercedes CLA and the Mazda3; we are big fans of this new trend, it puts the screen in a more convenient place for drivers to see without taking their eyes off of the road. A pair of large circular vents sits below the screen, which feeds into redundant physical controls, and below that a multimedia controller borrowed from the flagship A8 that has a touch-pad on top. This pad makes entering letters a breeze, you can simply draw them on top of the controller instead of scrolling through an on-screen keyboard. Also standard is Bluetooth connectivity (including audio streaming), a panoramic sunroof, HD radio, and automatic windshield wipers. Optional equipment includes a navigation system, premium Bang & Olufsen stereo, and Wi-Fi for up to eight devices over 4G.
The A3 also excelled in crash testing, earning a coveted IIHS Top Safety Pick+ award. Ten airbags come standard, along with antilock brakes, electronic stability control, and traction control.