Audi adds sedan to its A3 series

By Mary Lowry

The Audi A3 as a gas-powered hatchback has gone bye-bye, but a plug-in hybrid version is coming next year.

Meanwhile, an all-new A3 has already hit showrooms, in four-door compact sedan configuration. Its compelling qualities include MMI technology with a retractable screen, the first automotive application of 4G LTE connectivity, a 705-watt 17-speaker Bang &Olufsen premium audio system, standard panoramic sunroof and bi-xenon headlights, Audi’s graceful Bauhaus-inspired design, and a starting price of $29,900 plus destination charge.

The 4G LTE data network enables delivery of Google Earth maps, including street views, to the car, and the MMI system can be operated using fingertip text entry. Audi has engineered the telematics system on the 2015 A3 sedan so that it can be updated throughout the life of the car.

For power, take your pick between a 1.8T and a 2.0T engine. Both are turbocharged four-cylinders producing 170 horsepower and 220 horsepower, respectively, and hitched to a six-speed dual-clutch transmission. You’ll have front-wheel drive with the 1.8 and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive with the 2.0.

Base pricing for the 2.0T version, not including destination charge, is $32,900.

Fuel economy ratings for the 1.8-liter engine are 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway; the 2.0-liter comes in at 24 mpg city and 33 mpg highway. Premium fuel is recommended for both.

The A3’s throttle response, steering effort and gear-shifting characteristics can be modified by the driver using the optional Audi Drive Select system, which has four different settings: Auto, Dynamic, Comfort and Individual. Active lane assist and adaptive cruise control are available in an optional Advanced Technology Package.

Bluetooth and Sirius/XM satellite radio are standard features on both models. So are rain-sensing wipers and light-sensing headlights.

The 2015 Audi A3 sedan featured here is just the beginning of the line. In addition to the A3 E-Tron plug-in hybrid already mentioned, within about 15 months the lineup will include the A3 Cabriolet (convertible), A3 TDI (clean diesel) and S3 (high-performance version).

This is a preview of the 2015 Audi A3 based on an introductory event held by the manufacturer. Although the vehicle was driven during the event, automotive reviews that include driving impressions and other opinions are written only after a vehicle has been given a weeklong test-drive.