Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Audi A3 TDI eats up the road at full song

Mark Glover’s AutoGlo reviews of the latest motor vehicle models also can be seen on The Sacramento Bee’s website at

This review originally appeared in the August 2015 edition of the Northern & Central California Cruisin’ News published out of Folsom, California – mg

Sacramento, CaliforniaHey, that’s a cute little Audi, I thought.

Yes, the 2015 Audi A3 TDI sedan front-driver with a six-speed “S tronic” transmission is all that.  You want to walk up and pet the thing, such a sweet little Audi sedan.  Whooooozza good boy?!

Appearances, however, tell only part of the story in this 2015 introduction.  This is a racy-looking sedan with a starting price of $32,600, which is relatively affordable for an Audi.

The elegant interior is attractive and thoughtfully turned out.

The biggest surprise comes on the fly.  The sticker tells you that power comes from a 2-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel, and in my mind, that meant that I could expect something close to minimum performance.

Turns out I was wrong.

Stomping the accelerator hard brought little excitement.  When the revs picked up, however, it was another ballgame.  The slight turbo lag was followed by an entirely pleasing turbo blast that was, frankly, somewhat unique.

I’ve driven turbos that press you into your seat and those that snap your neck and those that squeal the tires.  The A3’s turbo reaction was immediate forward propulsion with no distracting extras.  No fuss, no muss, no waste.  It just starts eating up the road.

This was news from a power plant advertised at a max 150 horsepower.  Maybe there was some kind of mistake at the factory, I thought.  Repeated trips on the throttle with my right foot continued to produce the same results.

Here’s the best way I can describe it:  The turbo kick-in provided the distinctive sensation as though I had grabbed the road in my bare hands and just started reeling it in at super speed.  Something like a giant pulling in a fire hose.

 And it wasn’t just the initial blast.  The tested A3 continued to dig in as it climbed up the rev ladder and zipped up to and around fast-moving cars with remarkable, unvarnished oomph.  Amazing.

Needless to say, it was fun to drive.  And my ride was dressed up with nearly $7,000 in extras, including a posh $2,600 navigation system, 18-inch/10-spoke wheels and nicely place aluminum enhancements.  I also liked the dual chrome exhausts paired together at the left rear of the vehicle.

Besides zip, the disc brakes were instant stoppers, a crash-saving plus during my test drive when a seemingly insane driver decided to rip across my bow at something like 50 miles per hour in a crowded suburban mall parking lot.

The “S tronic” transmission gives you the option of full automatic operation or do-it-yourself trips through the gearbox.

Fuel mileage ratings are stellar at 31 miles per gallon in the city and 43 mpg on the highway.

One thing not carefully considered was the placement of dual cupholders at the front of the center console, positioned hard against the climate controls.  Putting even a small Thermos-style coffee container there pretty much wiped out driver/passenger control of the system.  One time, on a hard braking maneuver, my coffee container leaned forward enough to turn off the system.  Seems like a small thing, but really, it was annoying.

Otherwise, this is an exceptional entry-level luxury sedan with surprising performance characteristics that also make it decidedly sporty.  I’d call it the little hot-rod sedan with a little something extra.  It’s certainly worth a test drive at your local purveyor of Audis.

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