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2019 Audi A3 Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.6

The 2019 Audi A3 offers a few four-cylinder engines and a five-cylinder, with the latter putting out nearly 400 horsepower. All engines deliver quick acceleration and plenty of power, and the base model gets better fuel economy ratings than some class rivals. The A3 also handles corners well and rides smoothly.

  • "The 2018 Audi A3 compact sedan is offered in four flavors. At the base end, the A3 Sedan offers the perfect balance of performance, luxury and price, while the performance-oriented S3 gives more power and better handling." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)
  • "Noise – whether from wind or road – is subjectively much lower in the S3 than in competitive cars, and the engine noise that does make it into the cabin has the carefully manicured feel of auditory bonsai, with boy-racer overtones totally absent. Its dual-clutch gearbox is much more refined, whether it's being shifted by the wheel-mounted paddles or left to its own automated devices, and its optional dynamic suspension makes for a broader range of ride comfort." -- Automobile Magazine (2017)
  • "The 2017 Audi A3 brings a genuine luxury vibe to the entry-level class. In contrast, others in the segment feel more like a dressed-up compact. The A3's turbocharged engine delivers good thrust and commendable fuel efficiency, and its ride quality with the standard 17-inch all-season tires is very well composed. Another sign of its refinement is that cabin noise levels remain pleasantly civilized on the highway. Opting for 18-inch or 19-inch tires … results in more noise and a busier ride." -- Edmunds (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The A3 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 184 horsepower, and it’s mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive models feature a 228-horsepower version of the same engine. Its zero-to-60 time is just more than a second quicker than the base A3's. In either setup, the engine delivers lively acceleration and ample power for all driving situations.

There are two high-performance trims. The S3 comes with a 288-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four. It delivers terrific acceleration, jetting from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. The RS 3 is even quicker, sprinting from zero to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds thanks to its 394-horsepower turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine.

The base A3 gets 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway, which are good ratings for the class. The S3 gets 22/29 mpg city/highway.

  • "With 220 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, the A3 provides plenty of power to accelerate with purpose yet still returns good fuel economy figures." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "Indeed, having so much power in such a small sedan is a novel and grin-inducing experience. The throttle response is sharp enough in standard mode, but tap the dash-mounted Audi Drive Select toggle to choose Dynamic, and it comes even more alive, eagerly shooting the S3 forward with the merest hint of a toe wiggle. The DSG is also quite happy to downshift when called upon, either by said toe or by itself when under braking." -- Autoblog (2017)
  • "With 220 horses and 258 lb-ft of torque, the 2.0T Quattro could be Audi's most composed sedan that doesn't have an 'S' in front of it, and after driving the pure stink out of the 2.0T Quattro, we can say that the $3K difference is well worth it. … In Sport mode, the higher shift points and predictive, throttle-blip downshifting make hot-shoeing more enjoyable. Oh, and it sounds good, too." -- Car and Driver (2015)

Handling and Braking

The A3 handles well in all situations, making it one of the most fun-to-drive luxury small cars. It also provides a smooth ride, even over rough roads. Front-wheel drive comes standard in the A3, and Audi's Quattro all-wheel drive is available, which gives you plenty of road grip.

Audi offers a drive mode select system with four settings that alter the vehicle's performance dynamics. A few different sport suspension systems are also available (trim dependent), including a rapidly adjusting magnetic ride suspension.

  • "Extensive use of aluminum helps keep a check on weight, so acceleration and handling benefit significantly. When enhanced by AWD, the A3 tackles twisty roads with strong grip and precise changes of direction. Body control is excellent, making the A3 feel as capable of attacking a curvy canyon road as a sports car." -- Autotrader
  • "The A3 feels light and athletic in curves. The AWD system makes the most of available grip, and the well-tuned suspension gives it a balanced, reassuring feel." -- Edmunds (2018)
  • "Audi's engineers have updated the Quattro all-wheel-drive system … to allow for more power – and thus, more oversteer – to be sent to the rear wheels, letting you have a little bit more fun when the car is set to Dynamic mode. The result is a whole lot less understeer than before and a whole lot more fun." -- New York Daily News (2017)
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