2015 Audi A3 1.8T
2015 Audi A3 1. So, you’ve survived your harebrained youth. It wasn’t easy, what with Woodstock ’94 and all.
Now, settled into a bungalow in the ‘burbs, you bid farewell to slammed hatchbacks, red brake calipers, and flagrant GT badges. What didn’t change is your quest for roads to nowhere and rapture at the wheel.
Who says that kids’ braces and funding an IRA mean that you have to be dead inside?. Several months ago, the new A3 20T Quattro thumped its arch rivals, the BMW 228i and the Mercedes-Benz CLA250 4MATIC, in our out-west comparison test.
Audi’s smallest sedan won by a fair margin, providing the best combo of creature comforts, performance, and driving enjoyment.
But can sports-sedan salvation be had without spending for the bigger engine? To find out, we tested the more humble A3 1.8T, which starts at $30,795, or $3000 less than the 20T Quattro.
All A3s share fundamentals with VW Golfs, including the GTI, which means that agile handling, precise steering, and efficient construction are part of the deal.
Compared with its five-door predecessor, the new A3 is larger in every dimension except height, yet is 100 pounds lighter model to model. A convertible, a hot S3 sedan, a turbo-diesel, and a gas-electric hybrid will soon join the throng.
Notching down from the 20T to the 1.8T sacrifices a significant 50 horsepower, 58 pound-feet of torque, and Audi’s vaunted four-wheel-drive system.
But dash strokers won’t be disappointed with its magnificent air vents, leather trim, huge sunroof, and 10-speaker audio system—all of which are standard in both A3s.
While a manual transmission is no longer available, sticky Continental SportContact 2 tires and 18-inch wheels are an $800 alternative to the standard 17-inch package.
Turbo lag is not an issue, but the 1.8T is still more than a second slower to 60 (6.5 seconds) and through the quarter-mile (15.2 seconds) than its beefier brother.
The good news is that it’s 200 pounds lighter and governed to the same 129-mph top speed.
Stopping from 70 mph took an additional six feet in the 1.8T, and it circled the skidpad at an impressive 0.92 g, within a sniff of the four-wheel-drive model’s 0.94 g.
Contradicting the larger-engined version’s 1-mpg advantage in EPA city ratings, we logged 28 mpg in the 1.8T, 7 mpg more than in the 20T.
While Northerners will miss the 20T’s extra launch traction every February, the 1.8T is eminently capable on dry pavement.
Its front wheels are certainly up to the task of providing both propulsion and guidance—the electrically assisted steering is crisp and quick, the damping never goes nasty, and the tires bite the pavement like a Gila monster does roadkill.
Audi is to front-drive handling what BMW used to be to rear-drive prowess.
We’d be remiss not to mention that VW’s GTI is quicker, roomier, more fuel efficient, and thousands of dollars less expensive. But remember, you’ve moved to a respectable ZIP code and said goodbye to that blessed box.
The A3’s suave wrapper and more-luxurious furnishings provide good cover for driving dynamics that are still impetuous in the extreme.
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