Photo courtesy of Motor Trend Online

It was an excellent turnout Sunday, March 23rd for Audi Club Northwest’s season opening Son of Quattrofest high-performance driving event (HPDE) at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, WA. Everyone had a fantastic day of lapping filled with the spirit of learning as led by our experienced instructor crew and excellent board members. The weather even produced an unseasonably dry track all day and warm sunshine in the afternoon. And as an extra surprise, our special guests Eric Weidle and Steve Kohn from Audi of America (AoA), brought along the all-new 2015 Audi A3.

When you first meet the new A3 sedan, you immediately realize that it is striking from every angle. With the recently introduced Audi Singleframe grille, re-shaped mirrors off the door vs. A-pillars, angular headlights/taillights and smart contour lines from front fender to rear, the A3 confidently marks itself as sporty and luxurious (without screaming it at you). The new 10-spoke 18” wheels on our model looked better in person than pictured, adding to the upscale, sporty feel.  Eye-catching lighting style also continued as expected, with sharp LED daytime running lights (DLRs) on both front and rear.  

Photo courtesy of Motor Trend Online

Both Eric and Steve were keen to point out that the new A3 was premiering many of Audi’s advanced technologies ahead of even the flagship A8, and they weren’t kidding. The interior is pleasantly comfortable and spartan, with just the controls you need placed right at the driver’s fingertips and the incredibly intuitive MMI ready to recognize your handwriting as you surf a super-crisp display for all of your GPS needs. Also included in the base model were rain sensing wipers (a must in the Pacific Northwest) and a huge sunroof (hey – filtered sunshine is sunshine), which fit well in the leather trimmed interior. Finally, features like the sporty gear select and three-spoke sport steering wheel rounded out the package. The exterior will include options for Full LED, automatic headlights, S-Line trim, heated washer nozzles and my personal favorite, power folding mirrors.

Photo courtesy of Motor Trend Online

The new A3 sedan is basically the same wheel base as the B5 A4 (103.8” vs. 103.0” respectively), making the best of MBQ platform for interior space.  At 6 ft. 1 in. I felt very good in the drivers position with the wheel telescoping/tilting easily and multi-way automated seat adjustment. The rear was also comfortable with a reasonably high headline and good seating position.  However, sitting behind someone of my height might be a bit cramped for a rear passenger, but not bad for short trips or for children. The best part is that equipped with the 2.0T engine and Quattro, the curb weight was estimated by Steve to be around 3200 lbs. That means that the new A3 sedan is several hundred pounds less than the current A4 with a very similar ~220 HP/260 lb.-ft. TQ.  

My guess is this car will feel very nimble no matter what roads it cruises and at auto-cross or HPDE events on tracks like The Ridge. I say “my guess” because the only drawback of the day was that for “insurance purposes” none of us could thumb a ride :) That said, it was a huge pleasure to have the A3 sedan out at the track so we could lift the hood and push all the buttons to get a feel for Audi’s next best seller in North America. A huge thanks again to our special guests Eric Weidle and Steve Kohn from Audi of America (AoA) who gave us this wonderful opportunity! It was especially fun to see this car before it was at available at our local dealerships.

The 2015 A3 reaches Audi North America dealers by April 2014. The S3 (of great interest to me personally), A3 Cabriolet and A3 TDI powertrain show up in the late summer 2014 timeframe, followed in early 2015 by the hatchback version with gas/electric (A3 Sportback e-tron) or TDI powertrains available. All in all, at a touch under $30K well equipped with a 1.8T and FWD, this car will compete. Upgraded to the 2.0T and paired with Quattro, the new 2015 A3 should give the Mercedes CLA250 and the BMW 320i (the two cars it is most compared to across multiple automotive publications) a run for their money, in a better equipped, more stylish package.

Cheers from Audi Club Northwest with Eric, Steve and the all-new 2015 A3 Sedan!

Best regards,

Joel Pelley