First Drive: 2015 Audi A3 sedan

Audi nails the formula with its new, compact luxosedan.

By Michael Taylor July 12, 2013 / Photos by Audi

USA has ached for a sedan version of the A3 hatchback for years, but it took the rise of sedan-obsessed China to finally make it viable. The Hungarian-built sedan (production will eventually extend to Mexico and China as well) is actually cheaper to build than the A3 Sportback that Audi launched in Europe around two months ago.

The new A3 carries over the hatch’s expensive-feeling, high-quality cabin and sticks it inside a four-door body with creases so sharp they’ll cut the unwary. All of this sits atop the best iteration of the VW Group’s MQB front-drive architecture. The quattro version I drove at the launch in Budapest, with 180 horses of direct-injected, turbo four-cylinder power, is quite possibly the best small sedan in the world.

It’s clear that the A3 sedan has been painstakingly thought through. With a firm ride and a balance than feels more assured than the Mercedes-Benz CLA, the A3 benefits hugely from the multi-link rear suspension Audi adds to the MQB chassis. Audi has set up the A3’s all-wheel drive to act more like rear drive than front drive. It will do proper donuts on a gravel surface. That helps it feel lively when you want action and comfortable when you don’t. The engine is a little jewel with 184 lb-ft of torque available from 1250 rpm, tremendous in-gear flexibility, terrific economy, and excellent manners.

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