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2013 Audi A3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2013 Audi A3 was new.


Performance: 8.5

With ample engine power and precise cornering and braking, the automotive press thinks the A3's fun-to-drive personality is one of its chief assets. Fuel economy is also a plus, especially if you choose the diesel engine.

  • "The base, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder should appeal to drivers seeking some excitement, while the 2.0-liter TDI turbodiesel should resonate with those who prioritize fuel economy. With available all-wheel drive, the A3 also delivers more grip in wet conditions or when simply zipping through a fast, dry corner. Too bad it's not available on the TDI, though." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2013 Audi A3 offers two engine options: a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that makes 200 horsepower, and a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder TDI diesel that makes 140 horsepower. Both engines come standard with a six-speed manual transmission and offer a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission. All-wheel drive is optional, but you cannot get it with the diesel engine. With the base engine and the automatic transmission, the A3 averages 21/28 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA. Models with the diesel engine average 30/42 mpg.

Test drivers report smooth shifting from both the six-speed manual and automated manual transmissions, but one says the automated manual is smoother. Reviewers prefer the base engine because of its higher horsepower rating. With less horsepower, the diesel engine struggles during acceleration, but test drivers think it does well in city driving and are impressed with its fuel economy ratings.

  • "The 2013 Audi A3's 2.0-liter gasoline engine provides ample power and is well matched to either transmission choice. The A3 TDI, meanwhile, feels energetic around town thanks to its ample torque, but runs out of steam -- and horsepower -- when charging up a highway on-ramp. The trade-off is exceptional fuel economy, which seems worth it to us." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2.0T engine lags in low-speed power delivery, then supplies it with a rush. The manual transmission is super smooth. The automated manual's shifts are rewardingly smooth and prompt when changing gears manually via the floor shifter or steering-wheel paddles." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • "Regardless of your preference for manual shifting, we recommend you experience Audi's S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission before committing to the 6-speed manual. The dual-clutch automatic is more responsive when on the throttle and provides lightning-quick shifts, while (obviously) being more convenient in stop-and-go driving." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)

Handling and Braking

Test drivers say that tight handling and strong brakes are hallmarks of the 2013 Audi A3 driving experience, but they find that ride quality can vary based on the model. One reviewer notes that he experienced more noseplow in the base model compared with models that have a sport suspension. Test drivers add that the A3’s overall ride quality is comfortable and composed.

  • "As with many Audis, the A3's suspension is tuned firm to enhance performance, but allows enough compliance to soak up most road imperfections. Whether commuting in heavy traffic or cruising down the highway, the A3's cabin remains pleasantly refined and quiet." -- Edmunds
  • Any A3 is agile, but base-suspension versions suffer from a bit of noseplow in tight, fast turns. A3s with the sport suspension have sharper responses and little noseplow. Steering feel on all models is accurate and linear, though some testers want firmer feel. Rapid takeoffs induce minor torque-steer in front-drive models. Braking is strong." -- Consumer Guide (2012)
  • Opting for the sport suspension and 18-inch wheels will add an insignificant amount of harshness to the A3's otherwise composed ride." -- Kelley Blue Book (2012)
  • "On the one dry day I had in the A3 TDI, I found its responsive handling wasn't only great at keeping me on wet, nasty roads, but fun to play with on dry ones." -- Cars.com (2010)

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