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2009 Audi A3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Audi A3 was new.


Performance: 8.8

With ample engine power and precise cornering and braking, many writers say the A3's fun-to-drive persona is its chief asset. 

  • "Talk about a fun car to drive, this one sits low and reminds you of what the S-line of Audi's will do each time you hit the gas, and grab a paddle." -- Atlanta Examiner
  • "Both engines provide the 2009 Audi A3 with brisk performance. The A3's electromechanical steering does a superb job of reducing vibration without sacrificing driver feedback. In typical Audi fashion, the ride is comfortably firm and the A3's handling is just as sporty as its larger siblings'. And with the help of a well-tuned suspension, the car stays in control and on line in the turns." -- Edmunds
  • "You'll not find a better-balanced front-drive car anywhere. Nor will you find many compacts that make such a convincing sports car when the road is right. The more expensive 3.2 adds some very delectable ingredients to the basic goodness of the A3 ... either A3 supplies a genuine upscale driving experience." -- New Car Test Drive 

Acceleration and Power

Reviewers especially commend the base engine's turbocharged muscle. But there are several who report the added weight of the 3.2-liter engine's all-wheel drive makes the car sluggish. The 2009 A3's transmissions are also well-reviewed. Many reviewers report smooth shifting from both the six-speed manual and the S tronic automatic. EPA ratings for the base 2009 A3 range from 21 to 22 mpg in the city and 28 to 30 mpg on the highway. The 3.2 Quattro model should achieve between 18 and 21 mpg in city driving and between 25 and 28 mpg on the highway. 

  • "These two engines are decidedly premium choices and are in keeping with the brand image." -- Car and Driver
  • "The 2.0-liter engine is remarkably tractable, with nearly none of the turbo lag that afflicts some other turbocharged engines." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Switching to manual mode, the car delivered the kind of hard shifts we would expect from a dual-clutch transmission, without the slushiness of a torque converter. We also ran the car through a little mud, rally style, and were impressed how easy it was to keep the A3 in line." -- CNET
  • "Although the 3.2 Quattro's standard all-wheel drive will be an asset for those who face slippery driving conditions, the heavier weight of this A3 means not much is gained in performance, the sprint to 60 mph takes 6.8 seconds." -- Edmunds
  • "The test vehicle had a smooth-shifting six-speed manual transmission. Clutch feel on the A3 was excellent." -- Chicago Sun-Times
  • "The automatic's shifts are rewardingly smooth and prompt when used in manual mode." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

Tight handling and responsive braking are key characteristics of the A3's driving experience, test drivers say.

  • "In typical Audi fashion, the ride is comfortably firm and the A3's handling is just as sporty as its larger siblings." -- Edmunds
  • "You get a nice ride with a regular suspension; you feel bumps, but it's not bad." -- Cars.com
  • "With Quattro all-wheel drive, the hatch is a more playful companion on back roads than is the front-drive version, which understeers resolutely when you're driving hard. The all-wheel drive system is surprisingly neutral and, when combined with the sharp, well-weighted steering, makes the A3 fun to toss around." -- Car and Driver
  • "The A3's small size, taut suspension and willing FSI engine also make it a blast to drive through curvy stretches, but at the same time its highway ride quality won't make you regret you didn't opt for a more sedate sedan." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Braking is excellent. The four-wheel discs are big enough to handle repeated pedal stabs without overheating, and high-tech electronics ensure optimum braking in all conditions." -- New Car Test Drive

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