The Audi A3's impressive upgrades helps Philadelphians stay well connected while on the go.
There was a time when the best car I had ever owned was a low-riding 1966 Dodge Coronet convertible that I purchased for a hundred bucks. My treasured Coronet held the crown for years before I sold it—at the same price—for an upgrade: the rakishly sexy 1984 Audi GT Quattro Coupe. The amazing quickness and agility of that Audi GT is a fond memory that has stuck with me through the decades, during which I’ve test-driven what feels like virtually every car ever made. Great cars come and go, but after experiencing the substantially revised and completely reimagined new 2015 Audi A3 sedan, a next-generation take on an old favorite has made its way back to the top of my list.
This new luxury sedan—a compact, “don’t-call-me-little” brother to the A4—leapfrogs the whole entry-level set. Though even the higher-powered A3 is zero-to-60-mph rated at 7.2 seconds, the combination of competent power and amazing all-wheel-drive alacrity on the road make the A3 the perfect daily driver. The pairing of nimble Quattro handling and the updated four-cylinder 2.0T, 220-horsepower engine set me on a giddy jaunt around Center City, out through Fairmount Park, and onto the winding, wooded lanes of Gladwyne.
Though notably smaller than the Audi A4, with a shorn rear deck, the new A3—previously presented in the US as a hatchback—carries off the spare elegance of the Audi signature look as an exceptionally well-proportioned four-door sports sedan. Even better, the value equation on the Audi A3 is undeniable at a well-equipped price of about $33,000 with steadily strengthening resale values.
Slipping into the A3 interior, even the average six-foot-tall driver is immediately assured that “small” is not constricting. The sense of usable space is enhanced by uncluttered controls presented quite organically within the A3’s sweeping wraparound cockpit. But the modest-looking instrumentation belies an amazing technology package, including the industry’s first 4GLTE connectivity mated with an NVDIA graphics processor that turns the car into a mobile hot spot, delivering razorsharp images to a standard top-of-dash, hideaway, ultrathinMMI screen as well as streaming audio via an amazing optional Bang & Olufsen sound system.
Though the vehicle may be on an inevitable collision course with distracted driving critics, I found the Audi’s execution of the infotainment and driver control systems seamlessly intuitive. Once you’ve linked your phone, texts, e-mails, and music, get used to the dramatic geo-tracking Google Earth navigation view, and realize that you are ultimately unfettered but thoroughly connected, you really can just enjoy the drive. And with such a pleasurable ride, the data can wait. Cherry Hill Audi, 2261 Route 70 West, Cherry Hill, NJ, 888-549-4975