Audi’s entry-level A3 works in every sense
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Right from the outset Audi’s desirable A3 hatchback has delivered a full and complete package of abilities for those who appreciate their little luxuries with a touch of style.
It looks good, goes well, handles neatly and has a very smart interior. And all for only a small premium above its more mundane mainstream rivals.
Based on the new Volkswagen Rabbit platform, the 4-door A3 comes in two versions: the front-wheel-drive 2.0T with a 200-horsepower, 2.0-litre turbocharged
4-cylinder engine; and the all-wheel-drive 3.2 quattro with a 250 hp, 3.2-litre V6 to supply the motive power.
Optional on the 2.0T and standard on the 3.2 quattro is Audi’s brilliant Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG). Unlike other “auto manuals,” the DSG unit shifts seamlessly and actually increases performance.
At a glance, the A3 looks well-proportioned with a solid, planted stance, nicely integrated headlamps, a smooth hood sweeping up over a low roofline and down to a tightly drawn rear.
There was no distinct turbo whine from our 2.0T tester and it readily transmitted its power smoothly and quietly, with little trace of any turbo lag under instant acceleration either.
The sure-footed hatch’s chassis feels nicely stiff and solid, while keeping the ride reasonably comfortable even on Toronto’s ever-worsening road surfaces.
Coupled with wonderfully light and precise steering, it all made the A3 a pleasure to drive, hugging the road like a limpet as it sailed into and through corners with little drama, but lots of fun in the process.
Inside, there may be a smidgen more plastic than in some entry-level luxury makes, but it’s high-quality stuff.
As with all Audis, the A3 looks great wherever your eye settles and the comfortable, supportive seats feel just as good at the end of a long day’s drive as they did at the beginning. Even the driving position is faultless and, yes, that includes a footwell area that’s ideally suited to heel ‘n’ toe gear changes with the effortless clutch pedal and standard 6-speed manual transmission.
Not surprisingly, the rear seat area is a bit tight — this is a compact vehicle — but there’s plenty of room under the front seat to park one’s feet. The accommodating cargo area becomes even more so when the rear seats are folded, and there are cargo tie-downs to help keep loose items from sliding around.
A fresh addition for the 2007 model year is an S-line cosmetics and handling package. It’s optional on the $33,800 base 2.0T model and comes standard with the $45,600 V6-powered 3.2 quattro version.
This package adds leather sport seats, 2-colour alloy wheels, sport suspension, aluminum trim, multi-function steering wheel, roof spoiler and fog lights.
We like the little A3. A lot. It looks confident and understated but with the predatory grace of a full-on sports car.
2007 Audi A3