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The 2015 Audi A3 is a fresh vehicle from the German luxury brand, in more ways than one. Not only does the redesigned Audi A3 ride on the automaker's new small car platform (which also underpins other important compact cars and SUVs across the Volkswagen/Audi portfolio), but it also repositions the model in the United States. Now with a more fully-featured line-up, and with pricing and performance that truly rival that of BMW and Mercedes-Benz at the entry-level, the new Audi A3 is ready to make inroads amongst first-time premium buyers.
Let's take a look at 10 things you need to know about the 2015 Audi A3.
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01. The 2015 Audi A3 Is All-New
The 2015 Audi A3 benefits from Volkswagen/Audi's new MQB platform, a cutting-edge chassis that is flexible enough to stretch into the luxury segment without feeling out of place. Immediately noticeable to longtime fans of the brand is just how close in its dimensions the new A3 is to the A4 of old. In fact, from a styling perspective, the details of the A3 aren't all that far off from the current A4, either, keeping the automobile well within the family. The car's starting curb weight also checks in at under 2,800 lbs, which is an impressive achievement in the premium world, as even small luxury cars have fallen victim in recent years to the bloating that comes with feature creep.
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02. The 2015 Audi A3 Will Come In Two Body Styles
Although American buyers are familiar with the hatchback version of the Audi A3, that model is no longer part of the 2015 edition's portfolio. In its place the Audi A3 has sprouted two new-for-the-U.S. body styles: a sedan and a convertible. The sedan gives Audi what it has so far lacked on this side of the Atlantic, an affordable, entry-level four-door with room for four adults and the kind of mature styling that isn't often associated with a hatch. The convertible steps in to take over the 'fun' side of the A3 equation, with a top that can be lowered in 20 seconds and nominal seating for a pair of children behind the more adult-friendly forward positions.
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03. The 2015 Audi A3 Delivers A World-Class Interior
Audi has prided itself for some time on its ability to turn out some of the highest-quality automobile interiors in the business, and the 2015 Audi A3 is no exception to this rule. Despite its position as the most affordable Audi, the A3's passenger compartment is replete with materials and design that suggest a much higher price point. The car's available MMI system (Audi's entertainment and communications interface) slides in and out of view as needed, and while technology is certainly front and center in the A3, the cabin doesn't feel nearly as sterile as some of its luxury rivals thanks to the use of restraint when it comes to polished metal trim.
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04. The 2015 Audi A3 Offers Two Engine Options
The 2015 Audi A3's base engine is a 1.8-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder that has been tuned to produce 170 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. An upgrade is available in the form of a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder mill that pushes out 220 horses and 258 lb-ft of twist (similar to the motor found in the Audi A4). Both units make use of a cast iron block with an aluminum cylinder head. The more powerful of the two is able to accelerate the A4 sedan to 60-mph from a standing start in just 5.8 seconds - roughly 1.5 seconds faster than the 1.8-liter motor.
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05. The 2015 Audi A3 Features Quattro
The 2015 Audi A3 is available with quattro all-wheel drive - but there's a catch. Only cars that are ordered with the more powerful 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine can be matched with quattro, giving those editions of the sedan and the convertible additional grip during slippery conditions. The rest of the Audi A3's lineup features front-wheel drive. Regardless of which engine is under the hood, or which wheels are being driven, the A3 is shifted via a six-speed, dual-clutch automated manual transmission, which offers ultra-rapid gear changes that are actually faster than those of a traditional manual tranny.
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06. The 2015 Audi A3 Is Available In Three Trim Levels
The 2015 Audi A3 starts out in Premium trim, which includes a panoramic sunroof, (sedan only), power adjustments for the driver's seat, satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, HID headlights, power mirrors, a driver information system, automatic windshield wipers, and LED tail lights. The Premium Plus trim installs a power passenger seat, keyless entry and ignition, brighter trim throughout the cabin, automatic climate control, and heaters for the first two positions. Finally, the Prestige trim provides the Audi Connect feature, a louder stereo system, a navigation system, LED headlights, parking assistance, the slicker looks of the S line trim package, and a rearview camera.
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07. The 2015 Audi A3 Can Be Customized Via Several Options Packages
For those looking to add extra plushness or a higher tech quotient to the 2015 Audi A3, there are a number of options packages that can be selected. The Driver Assistance package provides parking assistance and a rearview camera to Premium Plus vehicles, while the Convenience Package adds heated power seats with parking assistance. The Prestige trim has access to the Advanced Technology Package, and its adaptive cruise control and extra safety features, while the Sport package provides sport seats, a sport steering wheel, and the Audi drive select system for adjusting the car's character out on the road.
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08. The 2015 Audi A3 Is Offered In A High Performance Edition
The 2014 Audi A3 is joined by an S3 variant - sedan only - which is aimed squarely at high performance rivals like the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG. The Audi S3 features a special version of the car's 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine that is estimated to produce 300 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque, and a six-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission shuttles that output to all four wheels via the car's standard quattro all-wheel drive system. A sport suspension system is of course on hand to make short work of corners, while 60-mph arrives in just five seconds with one's right foot planted firmly on the floor.
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09. The 2015 Audi A3 Makes High End Safety Gear Available
Each and every version of the 2015 Audi A3 comes standard with electronic traction control and stability control, dual forward airbags, side impact airbags, knee airbags for both front positions, and side curtain airbags. In addition, it's possible to order the Audi A3 with features such as a lane keeping system, a collision mitigation system, a blind spot monitor, and an adaptive cruise control system that can bring the car to a complete stop and then move forward again. The new Audi A3's safety suite is the most comprehensive to be offered so far by the automaker at the entry level.
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10. The 2015 Audi A3 Is Priced Competitively
The 2015 Audi A3 starts at an MSRP of $29,900, which is roughly $4,000 less than the larger Audi A4. It's also directly comparable with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, which is the most direct competitor to the Audi. Given the smaller size of the A3, which is a boon to city dwellers, its unlikely that Audi will have too much of issue competing with itself and cannibalizing A4 sales. The Audi S3 is predicted to be priced in the lower half of the $40,000 range - cheaper than both the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG and the Audi S4 performance sedans.
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