Posts Tagged ‘Audi’


2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro

2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro

Audi’s all-new “entry level” 2015 A3 is a sweet little car that comes with a pretty big price tag.  Sure, it starts at $29,900, but that can easily soar past $40,000.  My tester, an A3 2.0 quattro in Prestige trim started at $41,350. Add the $800 Sports package and $895 destination and it hits an eye-popping $43,045.  You can spend more – $550 for metallic colors or $1,400 for an Advanced Technology Package that includes active lane assist, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control – which takes it to a wince-inducing $44,995.  Now you shouldn’t be surprised that the 2015 Audi A4 2.0 quattro Prestige starts at $45,895; but the top price of an A3 is already deep into A4 territory – a sobering thought when ticking option boxes.

Now if you can get past the price, let me explain a few things.

Volkswagen Group's MQB Platform

Volkswagen Group’s MQB Platform

2015 VW Golf GTI

2015 VW Golf GTI

The all-new 2015 Audi A3 is basically a Volkswagen Golf wearing a smart Armani suit.  The 2015 A3 and 2015 VW Golf are the first two vehicles in the U.S. market built on VW’s much-anticipated, multi-billion euro platform called MQB, which stands for Modularer Querbaukasten, translating from German to “Modular Transversal Toolkit.”  It’s a big deal because it’s supposed to underpin hundreds of new models across VW’s vast multi-brand empire for years to come.  From the beginning, it’s able to support front- and all-wheel drive architecture as well as hybrid and pure electric powertrains (such as the e-Golf).

Audi A3 2.0T quattro badge

Audi A3 2.0T quattro badge

The base front drive A3 has VW’s 1.8L direct-injected turbo 4-cylinder engine making 170 hp and 200 lb-ft of torque. I drove it, hated it, and immediately asked to drive the model with the 2.0L direct-injected turbo 4 making 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque – the same sweet (slightly less powerful) engine in the 2015 VW Golf GTI.  Mated to the only transmission offered – a 6-speed S-Tronic dual clutchautomatic – it’s a firecracker. Fast, direct, fun to drive and supremely sure-footed with Audi’s signature quattro all-wheel drive system.

Dual-clutch transmissions can be a clunky affair, but the VW group has sorted these things out well for many years. That said, the creep forward at stop is pronounced and it’s not as buttery smooth at the ZF 8-speed automatic used by BMW in most of its products and upper-tier Audis. But it’s easily as good as the 7-speed dual clutch Mercedes uses in the CLA250, the direct competitor to the A3.

2015 Audi A3 looks good from all angles.

2015 Audi A3 looks good from all angles.

The instruments panel of the A3 is a model of clarity and it looks terrific at night. Note the average MPG readout from the standard multifunction trip computer.

The instruments panel of the A3 is a model of clarity and it looks terrific at night. Note the average MPG readout from the standard multifunction trip computer. Note the retro analog trip odometer reset “0.0″ on top of the steering column. Fast and easy! 

The EPA rates the 2.0L quattro setup at 24 mpg city, 33 highway and 27 combined. My tester’s computer showed 20.6 mpg on a combination of about 40% highway and 60% city driving.  It sucks down premium unleaded.

The A3's headlights remind me of something from Angry Birds. A signature Audi look.

The A3′s headlights remind me of something from Angry Birds. A signature Audi look.

The window and side mirror controls are from the VW  parts bin, but they are high quality and the chrome surrounds add a nice touch.

The window and side mirror controls are from the VW parts bin, but they are high quality and the chrome surrounds add a nice touch.

Just about everything in the A3 is executed well. From the signature Angry Bird-inspired LED running lights to the sharply creased sheet metal, this little car looks good from every angle.  The A3 appropriately telegraphs Audi’s DNA and nothing about it screams that it’s a rebadged VW (because it isn’t). It may share the MQB platform and the drivetrain, but what you see is pure Audi.

The same can be said about the inside.  Audi does about the best interiors in the auto business, although the competition has caught up over time. The A3′s interior looks terrific — from the tablet-style pop-up infotainment display to the turbine-inspired round vents, it’s a feast for the eyes.  Most of the surfaces you see and touch are good (not top) quality plastics and soft to the touch, but some hard plastic lurks, particularly in the door panels, below the arm rest, the seat backs and some lower fascia.

This particular model had all the bells and whistles. I particularly liked the Google Earth navigation maps and the 705 watt Bang & Olufsen 14-speaker surround sound.  Both were standard on the 2.0L Prestige.  Audi’s latest-generation MMI (multimedia interface) was easy to use with the center controller and dedicated buttons.  My iPhone 5S synced easily with the system and calls were clear.

The A3's full-color infotainment screen displays Google Earth beautifully and easily with its built-in 4G LTE connection.

The A3′s full-color infotainment screen displays Google Earth beautifully and easily with its built-in 4G LTE connection.

The wide angle backup camera works well, although if you're in a hurry, it takes a couple seconds to pop up and display.

The wide angle backup camera works well, although if you’re in a hurry, it takes a couple seconds to pop up and display.

Audi's Multimedia Interface (MMI) works well with the large center controller. The finger-writing recognition is too difficult while driving and good luck with the voice recognition.

Audi’s Multimedia Interface (MMI) works well with the large center controller. The finger-writing recognition is too difficult while driving and good luck with the voice recognition.

The power seat controls on the side of the front seats. I’d rather see the controls placed on door like Mercedes.

The power sports seats are comfortable but don’t have a memory function. They do, however, have a hand-adjustable thigh support – something my 6’1″ frame appreciates very much.  Unfortunately, the seat controls are so close to the door that you may have to open the door to adjust the seat!  And the damn seat belt doesn’t have a stop for the buckle so the buckle falls to the bottom of the belt every time you take it off. You have to jam your hand down to the tight crevice between the B-pillar, the seat and the floor – evoking flashbacks of 127 Hours – to find it each time you buckle up.  What were they thinking?

This car is loaded with all the bells and whistles: Full LED headlights and taillights, automatic headlights and rain-sensing wipers, dual zone automatic climate control, front and rear parking sensors, back up camera with guide lines, full-color MMI display, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, real-time traffic and weather, HD radio, 4-G connection w/Wi-Fi hot spot, auto-dimming rear view and side mirrors, leather seating surfaces, power heated (but not cooled) seats, digital compass, panoramic sunroof, tilt/telescope steering wheel, keyless entry and ignition, a dizzying array of safety features including countless airbags and air curtains and electronic nannies for braking, stability control and blind spot moniters.

Old-school physical controls and buttons are easy and fast to use.  Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard. Optional heated seats have 3 levels.

Old-school physical controls and buttons are easy and fast to use. Dual-zone automatic climate control is standard. Optional heated seats have 3 levels.

The cup holders are too close to the HVAC controls. No Big Gulps here. Also the power port should be moved away from the cup holders. Bad placement.

The cup holders are too close to the HVAC controls. No Big Gulps here. Also the power port should be moved away from the cup holders. Bad placement.

And if you’re like me and you’ve experienced the intoxicating, magical capabilities of adaptive cruise control (now with advanced stop & go), then no new vehicle purchase could be complete without it. Simply tick the box for the Advanced Technology package – it only adds $20/month to the lease.

But you know what you can’t get on an A3 – no matter how much you pay? You can’t get a HomeLink garage controller so you have to clip an ugly remote to your visor.  HomeLink is available on a Mazda 3 or a Kia Forte, but not an Audi A3?

The physical volume control knob on the right is handy. The MMI controller is nicely machined and well weighted. Hard buttons clustered around the controller provide short cuts to the main functions - Navigation, Telephone, Radio, and Media.

The physical volume control knob on the right is handy. The MMI controller is nicely machined and well weighted. Hard buttons clustered around the controller provide short cuts to the main functions – Navigation, Telephone, Radio, and Media. Note the electronic parking brake button nicely tucked into the console. The S-Tronic transmission can be shifted in sports mode from the shift lever or paddles behind the steering wheel.

Driving the A3 is a breeze.  The electric power steering is fast and tight even though it lacks some of the feedback you might get from now-antiquated  hydraulic units.  It darts in and out of traffic with ease.  The body is rock solid so quick maneuvers don’t feel like the mass is moving in the opposite direction.  The turbo spools up quickly leaving little room turbo lag (except at very low speeds) as the engine pulls and revvs happily to the red line.  Quattro cements the little car firmly in place, so the high winds we experience in the desert don’t blow it away or pull it dramatically off track.

The A3 is easy to park and the turning radius is very tight. The parking sensors and backup camera are very handy but sometimes the cross-path and other warning noises can get annoying. I’ve been heard shouting at the car to shut up, but that’s just me.

The front of the A3 sports Audi's logo: the Four Rings of Auto Union. Extra credit if you can name each ring.

The front of the A3 sports Audi’s logo: the Four Rings of Auto Union. Extra credit if you can name each ring.

Overall it’s a terrific driver’s car, more engaging and better rendered than the Mercedes CLA250. I also think that its lines will age better.

Another small but annoying feature is this key.  The VW group has been using the same large, clunky key for more than a decade. With keyless ignition, it's unnecessarily bulky in my pocket. It's the same key I had on my 2005 A6. Time for a change.

Another small but annoying feature is this key. The VW group has been using the same large, clunky key for more than a decade. With keyless ignition, it’s unnecessarily bulky in my pocket. It’s the same key I had on my 2005 A6. Time for a change.

All this gets me back to the price of a prestigious German badge. You can get far more for your money from a non-luxury or near-luxury brand. For example, the all-new 2015 Acura TLX, a bigger car, about the size of an A4, starts at $30,995. A fully-loaded TXL with a 3.5L 290 hp V6 engine, 9-speed automatic transmission, SH-AWD and the top Advance Package that includes far more luxury features and advanced technology than the A3 or A4 – is $45,595.

The average transaction price of an A3 is probably closer to $36,000 (not coincidentally the about same as the base A4). That’s still $4,000 more than a top-spec VW Golf GTI and enough for a base A4.

Is it worth the the steep premium to drive a small car with the four interlocking rings of Auto Union proudly affixed front and back? You do get a better standard warranty – 4 years/50,000 miles – and sales/service at an Audi dealer is probably much better than a non-luxury brand.  For most people, it all comes down to the deal.  As long as the lease payments are low enough, people naturally gravitate to the fancy German label. So far, the A3 has been a huge hit for Audi and it’s the main reason Audi’s sales are up dramatically so far this year.  I bet your local Audi dealer could find a terrific A3 deal for you too!

The 2015 Audi A3 2.0T quattro.

The 2015 Audi A3 2.0T quattro.

2013 Los Angeles Auto Show Day One #LAAutoShow

Posted: November 20, 2013 in Acura, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Automobile Manufacturers, Bentley, BMW, Cadillac, Car Shows, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR), Jeep, Lamborghini, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Los Angeles Specific Issues, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Ram, Range Rover, Volkswagen, Volvo
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Campagna T-Rex. These three-wheeled wonders are from Canada and are very expensive - $60 - 70,000. I have it direct from an owner that they are fun beyond belief. Nice toy if you can afford one!

The Campagna T-Rex. These three-wheeled wonders are from Canada and are very expensive – $60 – 70,000. I have it direct from an owner that they are fun beyond belief. Nice toy if you can afford one!

LAAutoShow Day 1 005 Porsche 911 Turbo S Rear

All new, if you can afford it, is the Porsche 911 Turbo and Turbo S. Available in both coupe and cabriolet form. When you choose options, it’s usually in $10,000 increments.

LAAutoShow Day 1 006 Porsche 911 Turbo S int

The interior of the Porsche 911 Turbo S Cabriolet. Red leather is my favorite interior for just about any sports car.

LAAutoShow Day 1 007 Porsche 911 Turbo Cabriolet

This is the “lesser” 911 Turbo Cabriolet. It’s missing the S, but I’d still love it and give it shelter.

LAAutoShow Day 1 013 Porsche 918 Spyder rear

This is the production Porsche 918 Spyder. There is NO BAD ANGLE on this fantastic super hybrid.

LAAutoShow Day 1 014 Porsche 918 Spyder Int

The interior of Porsche’s 918 Spyder Hybrid is just as futuristic as the exterior. I’m sure Jay Leno already has one.

LAAutoShow Day 1 016 Lincoln MKC front

This is the all-new Lincoln MKC (C for crossover, compact). It’s based on the Ford Edge, but with lots of upgrades and changes. It’s not just a badge-engineering job. I think it’s handsome and will find some traction in the very big compact SUV/CUV market.

LAAutoShow Day 1 017 Lincoln MKC rear

The rear doesn’t work as well for me. The MKC kind of has a fat ass and the “signature” taillights that sweep across the whole rear just make it look larger.

LAAutoShow Day 1 022 Lincoln MKC int

The interior of the Lincoln MKC is more successful. With a combination of MyLincoln Touch and physical buttons and knobs, this is the direction Ford and Lincoln are taking to try and appease pissed-off consumers who hate the touch controls.

LAAutoShow Day 1 024 Ford Transit Connect Titanium Wagon Cross Country by LGE CTS Motorsports (2014)

I think the new 2014 Ford Transit Connect family of wagons and utility vans will find many new customers as it comes in different sizes with much more car-like interiors.

LAAutoShow Day 1 029 Ford Edge Concept front

This Ford Edge Concept is very close to the upcoming production 2015 Edge Crossover. I like the bold look.

LAAutoShow Day 1 030 Ford Edge Concept

That’s quite the in-your-face grille, isn’t it? The 2015 Ford Edge Concept

LAAutoShow Day 1 031 2014 Ford Focus ST

The lighting just doesn’t do justice to this neon yellow 2014 Ford Focus ST. It’s really quite arresting – and you might get arrested driving far too fast in it.

(more…)