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The 2016 Audi A3 Is Tiny Excellence

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The 2016 Audi A3 is a compact, luxury sedan that carries the entry-level banner for the Audi brand. Unlike some previous attempts by the company to create an affordably-priced compact sedan for premium buyers, the A3 actually feels like an uncompromised Audi.

Honestly, the Audi A3 is so well done that many premium buyers who normally look to larger vehicles in the VW Group’s premium lineup, but who could be better served by a more compact offering, will be drawn in by this car. The 2016 A3 is upscale, drives like a premium sedan should, all while retaining the sportiness that we’ve come to expect from the Audi brand.

There’s both a sports sedan and convertible option for the Audi A3, seating five and four people respectively. The design of the 2016 A3 carries over from its introduction last year with just a few tweaks to improve the trim option lineup.

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On the outside, the A3 is a well-designed car with minimal flair and maximum presence. A short, well-curved hood and rather tallish windshield mark it as being maneuverable and roomy and the heavy, thickened cut for the running board line makes the only eye-catching adornment along the sides. The upper beltline fold is long, running from the point of the headlight to the top of the tail lamp, but it’s that lower running line that creates the stylized movement of the Audi A3’s design. A coupe-style roof and clipped deck lid finish the job in signature Audi style. This look, which is contemporary to the Audi car lineup, fits well in the dealer lot while standing out for its sharp simplicity on the street.

Inside, a host of well-chosen materials and top notch craftsmanship set the tone for the interior. The round steering wheel is flanked by rounded (and very useful) vents that sit atop a curved dashboard. The round shift knob and deeply rounded edges of the front seats create an overall theme of soft curvature within the cabin. This is only broken by the large, square infotainment screen when it rises from the dash upon vehicle startup. It stows when not in use or upon command, though, to restore the smooth feel of the dashboard.

Instruments inside the 2016 Audi A3 are very visible and quick to read. Their throwback round dial nature is a nice touch, keeping the car’s sportiness always at the fore. The infotainment is simple, but effective and the linear menu system is easy to follow and use, though it can be tedious at times.

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The rear seating is cramped for taller adults, but comfortable and of a good size for the class. Those who tote children around or rarely have more than a front passenger won’t mind the compact size of that rear seat bench. Grown adults can sit there if required and anyone of average size will find it good enough for short trips. Trunk space is a mere 10 cubic feet, though, making the car less versatile than some might expect. The rear seats fold down to expand that, however, and if the all-wheel drive is not opted for, the trunk expands to about 12 cubes with the driveshaft and differential delete.

The 2016 Audi A3 is available in both front-wheel and all-wheel drive. A six-speed automatic transmission is the only option, but it’s very well done with a fast shift and smooth changes. Powering the car are any of three engines:

  • A 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder brings 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque to the game.
  • A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder ups that to 220HP and 258 lb-ft.
  • Finally, a diesel option (TDI) is offered with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that elicits 150HP and 236 lb-ft.

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We drove the 2.0L gasoline version and loved its pep. This engine comes standard with AWD (aka “quattro”). Acceleration to sixty mph is easily doable in under six seconds with the 2.0L gas and the signature Audi suspension trim and handling adding in to make this a very fun little car to drive. Fuel economy is rated at 27 mpg combined in this sedan, with the 33 mpg highway rating being entirely doable by most drivers who aren’t too hard on the throttle.

On the road, the A3’s ride quality is excellent no matter the situation. It’s a quiet sedan on the highway and a fast mover around town. Its size makes it nimble by nature and easy to park. This is a great compact offering from Audi, for sure, and one of the few on the market that truly carries the brand’s core with it.