It’s the same deal with a 2006 Audi A3 3.2 S Line. Pull into the Audi lot, notice the hot-looking hatch that’s been filling the highways since its debut earlier in the year, admire the fine interior materials, and be impressed by the power and handling during the test drive. Shell out 40,000 hard-earned dollars and head home. And then, as was the case with the shirt, experience buyer’s remorse as you slowly realize that the seats are too small, your knees are hurting, your friends refuse to ride anywhere with you, and you’re getting dusted by Subarus. Once again, style, brand image, and the idea that more expensive equals better have gotten the best of you. Make purchases based on value, or what you realistically get in return for what you pay, and both the shirt from Saks and the A3 3.2 S Line will likely exist outside of your ownership.
Ah, but the A3 3.2 S Line is nevertheless special. Accompanying the S Line badge is a 3.2-liter, dual overhead cam, 24-valve V6 good for 250 horsepower at 6,300 rpm and 236 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,800 rpm. That equates to a jump of 50 horsepower and 29 lb.-ft. of torque versus the smaller, turbocharged four-cylinder engine housed in the standard A3 2.0T. A six-speed, Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG) automatic transmission with a manual mode and paddle shifters is standard, as is Audi’s quattro all-wheel-drive system. Like the 2.0T version, the 3.2 S Line uses a MacPherson strut front suspension up front and multi-link setup in the rear, both tuned for a more athletic ride. Sway bars and rack-and-pinion steering are standard equipment, and the four-wheel antilock disc brakes are aided by electronic brake force distribution. Hiding it all are 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 225/45 tires that maintain grip thanks to traction and stability control systems. With the quattro AWD and various tweaks, the A3 3.2 S Line comes in about 350 pounds heavier than a DSG-equipped 2.0T.
That 2.0T with the paddle shifters is one of three A3 models, the others being a 2.0T equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and the 3.2 S Line. This review focuses on the big dog, priced at $34,700 including a $700 destination charge. Each 2006 Audi A3 comes with a long list of standard features, such as a tilt and telescoping steering wheel, automatic climate control, the usual array of power functions, front side-impact airbags, and alloy interior trim. The 3.2 S Line adds a rear spoiler, front fog lights, leather instead of cloth seats, a Bose sound system that bumps wattage to 195, a six-disc CD changer and a subwoofer, and sport seats with power adjustments for the driver.
Then there are the multiple options, like power front and rear sunroofs, rear side-impact airbags, a navigation system, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, high-intensity discharge headlights, XM or Sirius satellite radio, and a Cold Weather Package featuring heated seats, heated washers, and heated mirrors. Also available are 18-inch alloys rolling on Continental 225/40 performance tires and upgraded leather upholstery.
As is typical with most press vehicles, our Brilliant Red 2006 Audi A3 3.2 S Line tester came pretty well loaded, to the tune of $38,735. That price included the destination charge ($700), power sunroofs ($1,100), 18-inch wheels and tires ($1,000), high-intensity discharge headlights ($800), the Cold Weather Package ($700), and setup for Bluetooth ($435). Over the course of a week, this little ride was put through the wringer all around southern California, from the stiff and bumpy highway drives, the spirited canyon carving, city traffic jams, and even attempts by adult-sized editors to squeeze into the A3’s ridiculously tight rear seat.