$16,906 - $26,218

2016 Audi A3 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2016 Audi A3 was new.


Performance: 7.8

According to most automotive writers, the 2016 Audi A3 is engaging to drive, with potent turbocharged engine choices, nimble handling and strong road grip. They add that the A3 also has a smooth, comfortable ride and offers excellent fuel economy with the turbodiesel model.

  • "The A3 variants all come with well-established Audi driving dynamics, meaning a 2016 Audi A3 is a car you actually want to drive." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The ride is composed and comfortable, the cabin is quiet and the turbocharged engines provide a solid wallop of low-end power that provides confidence around town and on the freeway. Superb fuel economy helps as well." -- Edmunds (2015)
  • "On the open road, Audi's newest arrival did very well - a trait we have come to expect from vehicles that have four rings on their nose." -- Autoblog (2015)
  • "We haven't had this much fun in a sport sedan in a long time." -- Left Lane News (2015)

Acceleration and Power

The 2016 A3 comes standard with a turbocharged 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 170 horsepower. A 220-horsepower, turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is available. Both engines are paired with a six-speed automated manual (automatic) transmission. The base Audi A3 gets 23/33 mpg city/highway, according to the EPA, which is typical for the class.

The performance-based 2016 S3 comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 292 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. It comes standard with a six-speed automated manual transmission. The S3 accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph, according to Audi.

Reviewers praise the A3's entire engine lineup. They say the base engine feels strong when the A3 is merging and passing at speed, and the midlevel 2.0-liter engine offers a quick burst from a stop. They note the automated manual transmission shifts smoothly and quickly.

  • "The 1.8T is a smaller engine that apparently has not received that memo yet. High revving, it picks up and goes, goes, goes as quick as you'd like it to. Heading on to the interstate sees more than enough power to merge into fast moving traffic without worry; Audi claims the zero-to-60 mph sprint occurs in 7.2 seconds." -- Left Lane News (2015)
  • "Don't ever dismiss VW Group's turbocharged 2.0-liter powerplants - they are some of the best in the world. The 220-hp variant under the A3's hood moved it rapidly off the line, with Quattro ensuring that wheel slip was non-existent." -- Autoblog (2015)
  • "The Quattro combined surer grip from its 18-inch wheels (19s are available) with the lovable 2.0-liter engine, which rockets the A3 from stoplight to 60 mph in about 5.8 seconds." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)

Alternative Fuels/Charging

The 2016 A3 e-tron is a plug-in hybrid that can operate on electric power, gas power or both. Both power sources deliver a combined 204 horsepower. According to the EPA, the e-tron gets 83 mpg-equivalent when using electric and gas power, and 35 mpg combined when running only on the gas engine.

The e-tron has a 16-mile range on a fully charged battery. It comes with a 240-volt home charger that charges the e-tron in 2 hours and 15 minutes. You can also use the charger to plug into a 110-volt outlet, which will charge the e-tron in about 8 hours.

Handling and Braking

The Audi A3 comes standard with front-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is standard on the 2.0T and high-performance S3 models. Automotive journalists note that the A3 rides comfortably over uneven pavement, smoothing out bumps. They say the A3 with all-wheel drive has excellent grip and quick steering, making for agile handling in turns. A few reviewers comment that the brakes feel a little sensitive at first but work well once you adapt to them.

  • "… if you prefer a more aggressive drive, the powerful S3 sedan with its nearly 300-horsepower 4-cylinder and standard all-wheel drive make short work of any twisty road, without a punishing ride around town." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The electronic power steering was smooth but fast-acting, lending the little sedan a nimble feel on twistier sections. On faster paced stretches, the A3 has a solid, big-car feel that is unshakable at speed." -- MSN Autos (2015)
  • "All the while, impacts are nicely absorbed, and, thanks to the innately solid MQB structure, sound insulation, and other sound-deadening measures, not even the grainiest road surfaces intrude upon cabin serenity." -- Car and Driver (2015)
  • "The Quattro setup allows the A3 to track much like a go-kart - it puts you on the road and keeps you there, grabbing, gripping, and braking just the way you would expect it to. Though we found the brakes a touch grabby when starting out, we quickly became familiar with their feel and the appropriate pressure to use them effectively." -- Left Lane News (2015)

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