A3

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2007 Audi A3 Test Drive Review

Picture of 2007 Audi A3 3.2 quattro Wagon AWD A premium compact that's worth the extra money over a VW Golf.

7.3 /10
Overall Score

New to the U.S. market for 2006, the Audi A3 is a compact four-door hatchback sharing much of its family DNA with the Volkswagen Golf. But as an Audi, it offers more technology, luxury, and refinement befitting a price that often crests $30,000.

Look and Feel

7/ 10

Consider the A3 a shortened A4 Avant. All the handsome proportions of that station wagon translate to this smaller Audi. The tall grille is the one allowable flourish within a conservative theme of flat, rectilinear shapes and minimal creases along a smooth body. The A3 is still kind of plain, but a new S Line package for 2007 adds larger wheels and a few other styling tweaks. It'll never stand out, yet we'll bet it'll never look out of fashion, either. That's Audi.

The interior is several grades above the Golf. The seats are nicely contoured, soft-touch rubbers grace the dash and doors, and the instrumentation looks high-grade, just as the switches give off a fine tactility. Ornamentation is limited to a few aluminum trim pieces on the shifter, doors, and center console. It's serious business inside an A3. And it's seriously well-made.

Performance

9/ 10

The A3 comes with two engines, two transmissions, and two drivetrains. The 2.0T has a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four with front-wheel drive and either a six-speed manual or six-speed DSG automatic. The Direct Shift Gearbox (Audi's name for a dual-clutch transmission) is not a typical automatic. It feels more like a manual, in that it lets the clutches slip at crawling speeds. Since you can't control these clutches, the DSG can feel jerky around town where the excellent manual transmission always feels precise and smooth. The DSG's advantage is faster shifts at higher speeds and quicker shifts than traditional automatics. We'd recommend the manual, which is more affordable and more reliable long-term.

The A3 feels nimble and balanced, and while the electric power steering can be too light at times, it's precise enough. The suspension delivers a great balance of ride quality and control, thanks to an independent setup front and rear. Acceleration is strong; there's 200 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. It's so good you should skip the 3.2 quattro, which is the only model available with all-wheel drive. That uses a 3.2-liter V6 with 250 hp and 236 lb-ft of torque. Because it's hundreds of pounds heavier than the front-wheel drive 2.0T, the 3.2 doesn't feel much quicker.

Form and Function

7/ 10

There's enough room for four adults considering this is a small car. Taller passengers may have to crouch in the back due to the mild slope in the roof, but it's not a deal-breaker. An optional double sunroof called Open Sky lets more light in for those rear passengers. There are 13 cubic feet of storage in the cargo hold and 55 cubic feet with the rear seats down. The seating position is low and the driver has easy access to all controls. Everything is legible and simple to operate, although the optional navigation system requires more of your attention while driving. A monochrome display in the instrument cluster shows more info, like trip, temperature, and optional Bluetooth controls, but the information gets a bit crowded.

Tech Level

7/ 10

As befitting a European car, the A3 is basic to start. Keyless entry, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate, manual cloth seats, and a bad stereo are all you'll get on the base car. The A3 doesn't feel like an Audi until you add the Audio package, with Sirius radio and a 10-speaker Bose stereo which counteracts road noise. The Technology package adds automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, Bluetooth phone connectivity with voice recognition, adaptive xenon headlights, and auto-dimming rearview and side-view mirrors. Then there's the Premium package, which covers the seats and steering wheel with leather, adds power adjustments for the driver's seat, throws in some illuminated vanity mirrors on the sun visors, installs fog lights, and decorates the interior with aluminum. Heated front seats, mirrors, and washer nozzles are part of the Cold Weather package. The S Line package includes a sport suspension, unique trim, and bundles some options from the other packages. The 3.2 is mostly loaded, save for the Cold Weather package, Bluetooth, and the xenon lights. If the A3 sounds costly with all these packages, that's because it is. But this is quite a lot of equipment in a small car.

Safety

8/ 10

The A3 comes standard with frontal airbags, front side airbags, and front and rear head curtain airbags. Anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control come standard, as do seat belt pre-tensioners front and rear. Rear side airbags are optional. Crash-test results earn the best Good rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the moderate overlap front, side, and roof-strength tests. The A3 has not been rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Cost-Effectiveness

6/ 10

The 2007 A3 starts at $26,060 for the 2.0T and $34,700 for the 3.2 quattro. The 3.2's MSRP is too pricey for what amounts to a trivial gain in power and a reduction in fuel economy. EPA ratings are 18 mpg city, 25 highway, and 21 combined for the 3.2, which is very poor. The 2.0T offers 21/29/24 with the manual and 22/29/25 with the DSG automatic. Given how well the A3 drives, its safety, premium feel, and available tech, we'd recommend buying one.

Updated

Clifford Atiyeh is a reporter and photographer who has spent a good portion of his life driving cars he doesn't own. He is vice president of the New England Motor Press Association and committed to saving both manuals and old Volvos.

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Audi A3 Questions

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2007 Audi A3 Sline

hi guys .. is it true that LED Headlight Set with real daytime running lights cant work on the audi a3 2007 and why ?

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Auto Salvage Title

What exactly does it mean when a car indicates that it has an Auto Salvage title?