2016 Audi A3 : Review
Audi’s new compact premium sedan debuted last year and the A3 has proven to be a popular choice in the entry-level luxury sports segment. In many ways, this little sedan is superior to the A4 in value point and drivability.
The 2016 Audi A3 is a fun, yet practical little car whose affordable price doesn’t mean skimping on fitment. The interior of this car is one of Audi’s best and the engine options offered, while sluggish in some of Audi’s larger vehicles, are perfectly suited to this little compact.
In all, the 2016 A3 is the Audi most likely to win over those who don’t need a big back seat or high price tag, but aren’t willing to skimp on the finer things.
Following the simple styling trends set in the Teutonic lineup at Audi, the A3 allows form to follow function with most of its exterior looks deriving directly from the simple lines created to build the sedan. The coupe-style rear end and big, beautiful wheels are the only nods towards today’s design conventions. The rest of the A3’s look hinges on “simple” being beautiful.
It works very well with this car, allowing the simple character line that begins behind the front headlights to flow along the bodywork to end at the rear taillamp without much flair. A chop along the bottom of the doors skews upwards and widens a bit, adding accent to the lines above as well as the plain, but elegant wheel wells.
Nothing about this Audi jumps out at you to demand attention, but everything about it says it’s classy and well-made. That’s the Audi trademark.
The plain simplicity of the exterior is mirrored inside the A3, but with a few touches that surprise for their complexity of form. The dashboard is an almost throwback design for its lack of adornment and lifted, rounded Euro-style look. It’s punctuated by jet engine-styled air vents that are both beautiful points of interest and extremely functional in their design. A twist of the bezel opens and closes the vent while the round design allows air to diffuse and “cone” as it comes out, breaking it up while at the same time giving a lot of control over its direction.
The steering wheel is simple, but very well-shaped for spirited driving. The instrument cluster is flat and easy to read, but set back deep into a bezel for glare reduction. Controls are all intuitive and at hand with the exception of the odd placement of the cruise control dongle, which is often mistaken for the turn signal rod. The shifter is Audi’s usual round knob with its easy grip and fast movement and below that is the command knob for the infotainment interface on the upper trims.
On those same trims, the infotainment screen rises out of the dash when the vehicle is started or can be lowered or summoned at the touch of a button on the center stack. Audi’s MMI interface is growing up fast and is now one of the better user interfaces on the market.
Seating is more than excellent, with just the right mixture of comfort and stiff, sport-tuned bolstering. Both the driver and front passenger are treated to one of the best interior experiences they could ask for.
Rear seating is a bit different, however. It’s well-made and comfortable, but only for small people. This being a compact sedan, the rear seats and trunk pay the price for the car’s small size.
Turbocharging is in Audi’s blood and every engine offered for the A3 has it. The base engine is a 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder rated at 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque in front-wheel drive. In a car this small, that’s good enough for most and will allow some fun without breaking the bank. The next step up is the car as we drove it with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that outputs 220 horses and 258 lb-ft in all-wheel drive. This is an extremely fast-paced little powerbox with a lot going for it. The third option is a 2.0-liter turbodiesel that outputs 150 hp and 236 lb-ft, but those numbers could change with the ongoing #dieselgate fiasco.
All of these engines are paired to an excellent six-speed automated manual transmission that mimics the sporty shift feel of a manual transmission without the inconvenience of a clutch or lever pulls. These are a German thing and they combine the best of both worlds, working like an automatic transmission without losing the fun that comes with a bit of a jerk when accelerating hard and going through the gearbox as you do so.
Out on the open road, the 2016 Audi A3 offers a peppy, almost sport-induced good time, especially in the 2.0i as we had it. That AWD combined with the 258 food pounds is a solid combination for fun. Six second zero to sixty sprints are easy to do in this sedan.
On the highway and around town, the 2016 A3 is much more refined and upper crust than its price tag might suggest. It’s composed, mannered, and dignified without losing a little jump at the light. Our only complaint in driving the A3 is the over-compliant, almost mushy steering feel. The car is, nevertheless, highly maneuverable and easy to control.
The 2016 Audi A3 is a very fun, very well-designed little car. Although we didn’t get to try it, the convertible option might be the way to go for those wishing to maximize the goodness a small car like this offers. The sedan is a solid little car with a lot of high points and very few negatives.
As an everyday drive, the 2016 A3 is a very nice choice with a lot of bang for the bucks. Our Premium Plus packaged model with nearly all of the best fittings that Audi offers for this car rang in at only $40,525 delivered. Although that makes this the lowest priced Audi on the lot, you are not skimping with this car.