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2006 Audi A3 Test Drive Review

The A3 combines European driving refinement with a host of standard features and a practical hatchback layout.

7.8 /10
Overall Score

The luxury market is getting smaller. No, the actual sales volume is not decreasing. Rather, the size of entry-level vehicles is becoming physically smaller. This allows luxury automakers to target new shoppers who would previously have waited until they entered the next tax bracket to enter a showroom.

A prime example of this new subcompact luxury segment is the 2006 Audi A3. Previously exclusive to Europe, the A3 joins Audi’s North American lineup, providing a high-quality interior and refined, athletic driving characteristics but with the practicality of a compact hatchback layout. The A3 shares a platform with the Volkswagen Golf hatchback and seats five passengers.

Look and Feel

7/ 10

Despite its Volkswagen connection, the appearance of the A3 is all Audi. The front end is defined by chiseled headlights and a large, squared-off grille that extends all the way down to the lower front spoiler. Unlike the Golf, the A3 has a more complete greenhouse, with rear-quarter windows behind the rear side doors. Out back, the A3 finishes with a raked rear window and below that, the body bulges out slightly finished with taillights similar to that of the A4 sedan.

The A3 features a modern, focused cabin that bridges style and functionality. The climate control vents protrude slightly from the dash, providing a sporty look. The ring of brightwork around each vent is echoed in the climate control dials within the center stack, bringing balance to the dash. Despite its visual appeal, the cabin of the A3 uses a lot of hard plastics and falls short of delivering the same cabin refinement one would expect from an Audi.

The A3 has a long list of standard features, including 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, remote keyless entry, and one-touch power windows all around. Leather upholstery, fog lights, and driver lumbar support are all available. Perhaps the best options in the A3 are the Open Sky dual moonroofs. The front panel opens and both have integrated sunshades.


8/ 10

There are two tiers of the A3: the 2.0T and the 3.2 S Line. As the name suggests, the former is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 200 horsepower. This engine routes power to the front wheels through either a 6-speed manual transmission or an available 6-speed DSG twin-clutch automatic with a tap-shift manual mode. While the manual is the de facto choice for driving enthusiasts, the tap-shift DSG is every bit as rewarding.

Once again, the name gives away what the 3.2 is all about. Namely, a V6 engine with a displacement of 3.2 liters. This engine makes 250 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque, sent through the 6-speed automatic transmission to Quattro all-wheel drive. Quattro provides added traction in rough road conditions and added grip in cornering.

Whether equipped with Quattro or front-wheel drive (FWD), the A3’s time in Europe is evident by its nimble, refined driving dynamics. Steering response is tight, and it is a fun car in winding roads.

Form and Function

8/ 10

The A3 has a very practical cabin layout, with easy-to-use dials and controls. The center stack flows into the shifter area, providing helpful barriers for the center stack tray, which could prevent a cell phone or keys from flying in a hard turn.

The A3 has 13.1 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats. That’s barely as much as some compact sedans have for trunk space, but the A3 has the benefit of its hatchback layout, and dropping the 60/40 split-fold rear seat brings cargo space up to 54.5 cubic feet, which is impressive. The rear seat also has a center pass-through that allows you to store longer items like skis while still making the backseat available for use.

Tech Level

9/ 10

The A3 comes standard with an AM/FM radio with satellite radio prep, but it does require a subscription. An optional sound system adds a Bose stereo and 6-disc in-dash CD changer. Buyers can further upgrade the A3 with an optional navigation system.

There is also an optional Sport version of the A3 that offers a Convenience Package with rain-sensing wipers, automatic headlights, an advanced trip computer, and HomeLink integrated garage door opener.


9/ 10

Standard safety features include a full array of front- and side-impact airbags with an occupany sensor for the front passenger seat. The A3 also has four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, as well as traction control and stability control. Other standard safety features include pre-tensioning seat belts and whiplash-prevention headrests. Fog lights and rain-sensing wipers are among the few safety options.


6/ 10

Fuel economy with the 2.0T and 6-speed DSG is 22 mpg city, 29 highway, 25 combined. Opting for the 6-speed manual drops that number to 21 mpg city, 29 highway, 24 combined. The V6 Quattro model returns 18 mpg city, 25 highway, 21 combined.

Base MSRP for the 2006 Audi A3 is $24,740 for the 2.0T with manual transmission. Adding the DSG brings the price of the 2.0T to $26,220. The 3.2 S Line starts at $33,980. This is more than your typical hatchback, but the A3 is anything but. In fact, the closest comparable vehicle to the A3 is the Mini Cooper, which costs between $17,000 and $25,000 and does not have the cabin space of the A3.

Updated by George Kennedy

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2006 Audi A3 Top Comparisons

Users ranked 2006 Audi A3 against other cars which they drove/owned. Each ranking was based on 9 categories. Here is the summary of top rankings.

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Audi A3 Questions

No Start

Car turns over but won’t start and if it Does start has no power will not drive missing rpm will not rev up replaced plugs coil packs pcv numerous codes new fuel pressure regulator replaced hi pr...

What Could Be The Lifespan I Can Expect Out Of This Car?

i have an Audi A3 2006 which has done about 100K. I'm thinking of selling it. How much do you think it would last? It's been well taken care of and no issues so far. Would it last till 200K?

I Put Car Into Drive And Turns Off..

I have a 2006 Audi A4 3.2 V6.. the car starts without a problem but when I go into drive it cuts off

129000 Milage On Audi 2006 A3 Turbo

Is it a good investment at cost $4000 2006