Budapest, Hungary - Europe: steeped in history from its modernized city streets to long, winding country roads where castle ruins sit in silent memory as the world passes by.
While I drove the brand new 2015 Audi A3 Sedan through the bustling streets of Budapest and through the rolling countryside lanes on it’s outskirts, I was reminded of Audi’s own rich history and how they’ve come to today and the latest iteration of their most important vehicle; the A3.
Truly, where you’re from is almost as important as where you plan to go. Just as we are an amalgamation of our pasts, so too are vehicles a combination of all past iterations. The A3, now in its third generation, has come a long way while managing to stay as true to its form and self as possible. Does Audi have another winner? I think it’s rather safe to say: Yes.
What is the Audi A3?
First, the Audi A3 is an extremely important model for Audi as it opened the door to the compact luxury car market for the brand in ‘96 when the A3 first launched. Currently, the A3 is one of Audi’s most successful model ranges, and with good reason. Offering luxury, technology, and drivability, the Audi A3 is a premium choice for families looking for an affordable luxury German car.
2015 Audi A3 Specs
Of the many powertrains that will be offered, I’ll focus on the one we’re most likely to get: the 1.8L inline-4 TFSI coupled with the 6-speed S-tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission. It is good for 180 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. No manual transmission option will be offered with the Quattro in North America. A 150 horsepower and 239 lb-ft of torque 2.0L TDI and an S3 with a 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque 2.0L TFSI are expected.
German pricing starts from €24,000. Canadian pricing should begin around $32,000. Official numbers will be announced closer to market launch.
Driving the 2015 Audi A3 Sedan
As we traversed the winding country roads surrounding the city of Budapest, entering impossible-to-pronounce towns full of curious bystanders and rolling green hills as far as the eye could see, the 2015 Audi A3 kept us solidly on track and was a pleasure to drive.
After driving several different engine configurations, my two favourite were actually the 1.8 TFSI and the 1.6L TDI. The 1.8L TFSI coupled with the S-tronic ‘box was great fun to drive. With a quick-to-respond transmission and Audi’s Drive Select system to dial up the sportiness in “Dynamic” mode, the 2015 Audi A3 offers a combination of relaxed cruising and on-the-spot driver pleasure. Steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters offer further control for those who want it.
Inside and Out of the 2015 Audi A3
Despite being wider and longer than the previous-generation A3, this 2015 model is still 24cm shorter than the current-generation A4. The sedan is actually a few centimetres lower and shorter than the Sportback (hatch) version, which we will sadly not be seeing in North America for the 2015 model year.
More mature and overall more aggressive, the 2015 Audi A3 makes a serious statement on the road. Distinguishing the A3 from an A4 might be difficult at this point, but that’s not a bad thing. Solid, stoic lines and a front end touched with LEDs and attitude, the 2015 Audi A3 Sedan is a looker.
Inside, the 2015 Audi A3 sports the kind of interior one comes to expect from a German automaker: efficient and to the point. Almost stark and bare, the A3 Sedan centre console is all business. The 7” monitor rises futuristically from the dash upon turning on the car, and is controlled via a large knob below the shift lever.
While much easier to use than Audi’s previous onboard system, the MMI interface will still take some getting used to, and the placement of the main control knob (and subsequent volume and channel change knob) are a bit awkward and low down, requiring the driver to take their eyes off the road for use).
This is, of course, a compact luxury sedan, so don’t expect gobs of legroom in the rear of the 2015 Audi A3 sedan. And while the seats are ridiculously comfortable and headroom is adequate, taller passengers will get a bit annoyed with the lack of space.
Comparing the 2015 Audi A3 Sedan
The model on everyone’s lips throughout the drive was, of course, the brand new Mercedes-Benz CLA. Of course, there’s also stiff competition in the BMW 3 Series and to a lesser degree the Volvo S60. It’s a highly competitive segment and one Audi has been a solid player in since the A3 launched.
With this latest iteration, I think the A3 will continue to be a strong contender and offer North American’s a luxurious family sedan option.