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U.S. News Best Price Program

2020 Audi A3 Performance Review


Performance: 8.1

The 2020 Audi A3 is both fun to drive and comfortable. Between its four robust engine options, two available adaptive suspensions, lively handling, and comfortable ride, it can satisfy the performance needs of just about any shopper.

  • "… 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 … 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." -- Edmunds (2017)

Acceleration and Power

The base front-wheel-drive A3 comes with a 184-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and it’s mated with a seven-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel-drive models feature a 228-horsepower version of the same engine. Both powertrains deliver energetic acceleration, and according to Audi, zero-to-60 times in models with the latter engine are only about a second quicker than the base A3.

There are two high-performance trims. The S3 comes with a 288-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-four engine. It delivers thrilling acceleration, moving the sedan from zero to 60 mph in 4.6 seconds. The RS 3 features a 394-horsepower 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. It jets the vehicle from zero to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds.

The base A3 gets 27 mpg in the city and 36 mpg on the highway, which are pretty good estimates for the luxury small car class. The S3 returns 22 mpg in the city and 29 mpg on the highway.

  • "Extensive use of aluminum helps keep a check on weight, so acceleration and handling benefit significantly." -- Autotrader
  • "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)

Handling and Braking

The A3 handles well in most driving situations, making it one of the most fun-to-drive luxury small cars on the road. Its ride remains smooth over most surfaces. Front-wheel drive is standard, and Audi's available Quattro all-wheel-drive system provides plenty of road grip in tight corners and inclement weather.

Audi offers a Drive Select System with four settings (Comfort, Dynamic, Individual, and Auto) that allow you to adjust the vehicle's performance dynamics. Also, a couple of different sport suspension systems are available on select trims.

  • "When enhanced by AWD, the A3 tackles twisty roads with a 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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2020 Audi A3

MSRP: $33,300 - $56,200

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