2015 Audi A3 Driving Impressions

We drove a front-wheel-drive 1.8T, but our longest drive in the Audi A3 to date has been in a 2.0T with Quattro all-wheel drive. This is the most expensive setup, with the most powerful engine and the best handling.

Plenty of power and thrust is on tap driving the top-of-the-line A3 2.0T Quattro, with the most satisfaction coming in the higher revs. Ride and handling is comfortable, though we found it a little disconnected and floaty when pushing it hard around corners on rougher roads.

The dual-clutch transmission worked well, but, as with all new cars, it's tuned to provide fuel economy over performance and will spin in the highest gear possible in normal driving. In manual mode, we found shifts to be on slow side, and we sometimes found ourselves wanting more, especially between second and third gears. Our pre-production cars were not equipped with paddle shifters, but Audi says a forthcoming sport package will offer this option, plus a lowered sport-tuned suspension that should provide more grip when cornering.

Noise, vibration and handling was fine on smooth roads, however, we did notice some wind- and road noise once pavement got bumpy, and on the freeway at speeds over 65 mph. At higher speeds, we had to raise our voices to converse with our fellow passengers.

We got only a short driving loop in the front-wheel-drive 1.8T sedan. As with the bigger engine, the 1.8-liter inline-4 does best in the mid- and higher revs, and has no problem merging on the onramp. We'd suggest this car for driving around town and the daily commute.

Four-wheel disc brakes on both models worked well, with an assured, yet not-too-bitey pedal feel.

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