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2010 Audi A3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2010 Audi A3 was new.


Performance: 8.9

With ample engine power and precise cornering and braking, the A3's fun-to-drive personality is its chief asset. Fuel economy is also a plus, especially if you opt for the new diesel engine.

  • "Like many Audis, the A3's suspension tuning is on the firm side to enhance performance, yet there's still enough compliance to soak up road imperfections. Whether commuting in heavy traffic or cruising down the highway, the A3's cabin remains pleasantly refined." -- 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." -- New Car Test Drive 

Acceleration and Power

For 2010, Audi drops its 3.2-liter V6 engine and introduces a 2.0-liter TDI clean diesel that makes 140 horsepower and dramatically improves fuel economy. A 2.0-liter, 200-horsepower turbocharged engine is also still offered. Reviewers find the traditional engine offers more than enough power. Initial test drives for the diesel show it’s a good choice as well, although some reviewers say it’s not as sprightly as they would like. The A3's transmissions are well-reviewed. Many report smooth shifting from both the standard six-speed manual and optional S tronic automatic.

According to the EPA, the new diesel is rated at an impressive 30/42 mpg city/highway. Fuel economy for the gasoline engine isn’t too shabby either. It’s rated at 21/30 mpg.

  • "The 2010 Audi A3's 2.0-liter gasoline engine provides ample power and is well-matched to either transmission choice. When driven hard, front-wheel-drive models have some difficulty making full use of available power due to wheelspin -- a problem that AWD variants don't have." -- Edmunds
  • "Initial acceleration, highway passing and even high-speed cruising prove the turbodiesel's might. Only if you were to switch into full sporting mode would you start noticing that the party's over as soon as the tachometer hits 4,000 rpm." -- National Post

Handling and Braking

Tight handling and responsive braking are key characteristics of the A3's driving experience. A downside is that Audi’s Quattro permanent all-wheel drive system isn’t available for diesel models. The optional Sport Package includes a firmer sport suspension and sport seats with more lateral support.

  • "2.0T models have a firm but reasonably absorbent ride with their base suspension setup. S line models are notably stiffer, enough to thump on sharp bumps and washboard surfaces, especially with their available low-profile 18-inch tires. All A3s are stable at highway speeds." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The standard electronic stability control intervenes only as much as needed to keep you out of trouble without sapping all the fun out of brisk driving. When the ESC does take effect, it does so seamlessly, with the only real indicator being the flashing lamp in the instrument cluster." -- Autoblog
  • "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 the regular suspension; you feel bumps, but it's not bad." -- Cars.com
  • "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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