The 2012 Audi A3 stands as Audi's entry-level model and is its only offering starting under $30,000. The A3 offers wagon utility with upscale styling and features, as well as a jumping-off point for larger, more luxurious Audi models down the road. Based on the same underpinnings as the corporate-cousin Volkswagen Golf, the Audi A3 offers both gasoline and diesel turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The gas engine delivers ample power and performance to match its sporty handling, while the diesel will get you up to 42 mpg highway. The A3 carries on into 2012 unchanged.
The Audi A3 cabin comes with leather seats and a leather-wrapped steering wheel as standard while wood inlays are optional. Overall the interior is snug, especially in the rear seat. With the rear seats up, the cargo area is sufficient, when folded there is almost 40 cubic feet, enough for most uses. Absent are the sensuous curves and the latest in Audi's design language, but the boxy hatchback is still uniquely Audi. Though it's billed as the German automaker's entry-level car, options can quickly push the 2012 Audi A3 into the larger, more luxurious A4's price range.
Bodystyle: four-door hatchback
Engines: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4, 2.0-liter diesel inline-4
Transmissions: six-speed automatic, six-speed dual-clutch automatic, six-speed manual
Models: Premium, Premium TDI, Premium Plus, Premium Plus TDI
The 2012 Audi A3 is unchanged this year. The 2011 model received new exterior and interior chrome trim as well as two new wheel designs. Last year, Audi added Scuba Blue and Deep Sea Blue exterior colors. Under the hood is a 2.0-liter turbo gas or diesel engine mated to a six-speed manual or a six-speed twin clutch automatic.
The 2012 Audi A3 wears a slightly older, less exaggerated version of Audi's trademark styling but makes the best of a boxy, truncated hatchback body style. A single frame grille and fog lights add styling to the nose, while chrome accents liven things up. The rear is characterized by a dual exhaust and wraparound taillights. 17-inch wheels are standard, 18-inch wheels can be added. An optional sport package dresses up the exterior with sporty wheels and Audi's trademark LEDs.
The 2012 Audi A3's entry-level interior is relatively upscale, and incorporates similar design elements of more pricey models. Rear passenger legroom is snug. Cargo space is sufficient at 20 cubic feet, which almost doubles when the back seats are folded down. Leather and dual-zone automatic climate control are standard across the range with a power driver's seat and multi-function steering wheel standard on the higher trim level. Walnut inlays and a sunroof are optional.
Performance & Handling
The A3's turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine produces a respectable 200 hp, which can be routed to the front wheels or all four wheels through Audi's quattro all-wheel drive and either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. A 140-hp turbocharged diesel four-cylinder engine is optional and powers the front wheels only through a six-speed dual-clutch automatic. As is the case with most diesel engines, driving at slower speeds you'll find plenty of power and acceleration, both of which are lessened at highway speeds, a tradeoff for excellent fuel economy. A sport package is optional for crisper handling.
Front and side airbags are standard on the 2012 Audi A3 for front-seat passengers, as are full-length side curtain airbags. Rear-seat side airbags are optional. Dynamic safety devices include antilock brakes, as well as standard traction control and stability control.
EPA Fuel Economy
Front-wheel drive automatic: 22 mpg city/28 mpg highway
Front-wheel drive manual: 21 mpg city/30 mpg highway
All-wheel drive: 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway
Diesel: 30 mpg city/42 mpg highway
- Affordable entry price
- Sporty handling
- Diesel engine fuel economy
- Wagon utility
You Won't Like
- Small back seat
- Quickly prices into A4 territory
A versatile premium hatchback competitor
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