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2012 Audi A3 Overview
The Audi A3 remains essentially unchanged for 2012, laying in wait for the next generation to debut for 2013 with enhanced driving dynamics, a more aggressive look and new technological inclusions. In the meantime, drivers have only a few complaints - the heated seats work "to spec" but do not perform as expected, and certain features are excluded from the A3 that some drivers have come to expect from a car of its class, notably a garage door opener, power passenger seats, memory settings, auto-dimming mirrors and automatic headlights.
That said, drivers highly acclaim the A3's fun personality, mature yet unpretentious style, stately interior and potent blend of performance and practicality. Being a sport hatchback, the suspension can be a bit stiff (although it is decidedly better than most), road noise is noticeable but not bothersome, and taller passengers are none too fond of the back seat - but such compromises are not new to the class, and none of the current owners are surprised that a sports car behaves like a sports car.
Feature highlights of the Premium trim include a 10-speaker sound system with CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. Otherwise it comes equipped with all the expected amenities up to leather upholstery, but not including a power-adjustable driver seat or multifunction steering wheel until you opt up for the Bluetooth Value option package.
The Premium Plus A3 trims come with the Bluetooth Value option package and add xenon headlights, LED running lights, shift paddles with the automatic transmission and aluminum interior trim. Navigation, multimedia interfacing, a 6-CD changer, automatic headlights, automatic wipers, rear parking sensors and auto-dimming rear-view mirror are available only through optional upgrades. Heated seats and mirrors alongside other cold-weather considerations are available in a Cold Weather package. A Sport and Titanium Sport package add aggressive detailing and performance-tuned components.
Front-wheel drive is standard, with all-wheel drive standard in the Quattro and TDI diesel - which means these trims also come standard with the S tronic dual-clutch automated manual. All others have the option of S tronic or a 6-speed manual, and powering all but the diesel TDI is a turbocharged 2-liter 4-cylinder good for 200 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque and between 21 mpg city/30 highway depending on the transmission choice. The TDI version is good for 140 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque, but it fetches an amazing 30/42 - at the cost of about 2 more seconds to reach 60 mph from a standstill over the merely average 7.2-second showing by the 2.0T.
As can be expected with Audi, the A3's new crash safety tests came back immaculate, and although the A3 is not as loaded as the price may suggest, sometimes safety truly trumps all. Reliability and refinement are certainly the strong points for the A3, but drivers expecting more than a beautiful car with a fun personality should probably shop around.
by Patricia Mayo
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