Extraordinary Rides: Audi A3 Sport Sedan allows for comfort

By C.A. Haire

Audi offered to send us an A3 sport sedan to try for a week, so why say no? The base price is reasonable, with a tab of $35,000. But loaded up with all the optional goodies, it soars to a hefty $45,000.

Either way, there is a drive control button that allows for comfort, dynamic, auto or individual modes of operation.

The A3 has other controls that are a bit unusual. First is the transmission shifter; no stick, knob or buttons here. Instead, a large toggle lever that flips forward and backward. It works well, but it seems to be an attempt to reinvent the wheel. Then there is the volume control for the radio. It is a flat round disc, and the driver uses a fingertip to twirl it around to set volume level. There is no advantage over a regular knob, but it works.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder rated at 201 horsepower, hooked to a slick seven-speed gearbox. Two-wheel drive is standard, but this is the optional Quattro all-wheel drive for better traction. Fuel economy is listed at 31/36 mpg, which is close to what we observed.

This is a true sport sedan, with sharp handling, quick steering and strong brakes. But the ride is overly stiff, mainly because Audi wants the tire pressures high at 45 pounds, which seems a bit much. Lowering to 34/32 resulted in a smoother experience with little loss in cornering ability.

The only complaint noted was the lack of passing power on the highway. This 2.0 is a good entry-level motor, but for this $45,000 price tag, more horsepower would be welcome. There is an upgraded version of this car called the S3. It has a healthy 306 horsepower, but it will set you back about $10,000 more. Either way, it’s nice for buyers to have a choice.

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