18th Apr2017

Audi A3 Prestige: The Little Sedan That Can

by Michael Chandler

If you follow us on Instagram, then you know that the GTI threw a Check Engine Light.  Such a wonderful moment.  After posting about the momentous occasion, and subsequently being told I don’t know anything about cars because I didn’t magically make O’Reilly Auto Parts open at 10pm and have them scan it, Toby from Makes & Models got a hold of me and told me they could fit me into their schedule the following day.  And they did.  Turns out a previous owner decided to spice things up, and cut out the screen protecting the sensor part of a MAF sensor.  They didn’t have a MAF on hand, but they could get one in the morning.  Not wanting me to limp my wounded car back to Salt Lake, Toby set me up with a loaner: a 2015 A3 Prestige sedan.  After many thank yous, I hopped on the freeway and began forming opinions and feelings about the car.

Toby told me to leave it in Dynamic, because it would be more fun.  And when I got to hustle it through some twisty backroads, it was.  Around town, going to work and to see my girlfriend, it wasn’t any more fun than Comfort or Normal.  In Dynamic, the DSG transmission wanted to hang on to gears JUST a little too long, like a dog tugging at a leash because it wants to run like its wolf like ancestors!  LET ME BE FREE MAN-BEAST!!!

Ahem.

In Comfort mode the opposite was happening.  It really, REALLY wanted to get into the higher gears and stay there.  I’m assuming this was to achieve bonkers fuel economy numbers, which the real-time readout in the gauge cluster was telling me it was hitting.  Otherwise, it didn’t want to kick down unless I really got on the throttle.  A little annoying, but that’s the mode I’d choose for a long drive.  Say to Vegas or L.A.  For a normal, boring commute like mine (fifteen minutes, mostly freeway, not a twisty road in sight), I’d leave it in Normal.  Save Dynamic for the fun roads, or if you have a more exciting commute than mine.

Take all that transmission talk with a grain of salt.  If I could, I’d shove it into the GTI in a heartbeat.  Another thing I’d shove into my car is the engine.  It’s a lot the same as the power plant in my Mk6, but also different.  The engine and brakes never left me feeling doubtful.  I had the power to pass people when I needed to, and enough brakes to reel the car in before things got scary.  The brakes were a little grabby, but I’ll chock that up to how cold it was when I had the car.  (The GTI’s brakes are the exact same kind of grabby until they get some heat in them, I’m going to say this is a VAG thing) And despite being all wheel drive, the car never felt like it was pushing.  You could tell it was a front wheel drive based car, but the understeer was very mild.  

This is a handsome little car, inside and out.  While some people would call the black on black interior “boring”, I would call it understated.  Nothing seemed crammed in, there wasn’t anything shouting “LOOK AT ME!  I AM THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN HERE!”  Everything was very German: purposefully placed, and simply designed.  And everything was easy to use.  The most difficult thing I encountered was turning the infotainment system on and off, and that took all of three minutes.

I didn’t spend any time sitting in the back, but they’re leather clad just like the front.  They look comfy…  The front seats were very nice.  Held you snugly, without making you feel like your kidneys were going to be turned into a delightful mush.  And they were heated, which made the cold days much easier to deal with.  Finding a good driving position took me a minute, but I found it.  And after that I drove it to work, then to take these pictures, and then on a fun drive back to my house.

I made sure everything had heat before I got on with the fun, and when I did I wasn’t disappointed.  The shifts were crisp, with or without use of the paddle shifters.  The steering was communicative and pretty sharp.  If you’re looking for second to none road feel, you’re looking at the wrong car.  However, if you’re looking to hustle about and want to know what’s going on with the road so you can make informed decisions: bingo, here’s your car.  The two liter engine pulls hard, surprisingly hard for a small luxury sport sedan.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, it reminded my of Ronda the Supra.  The brakes, once warm, were smooth and bit nicely.  The suspension soaked up the rough road, and didn’t leave me regretting my decision to drive it.  Definitely on the stiffer side, but not off-puttingly so.  

After my jaunt, I pulled into Rich’s Bagels.  I ordered a couple of bagels, and a cup of coffee and sat down to compile some thoughts.  After that Brendon told me that my car was ready to pick up, so I made my way to Layton.  Upon arriving Brendon and Toby asked me the same question: what did I think of the car?  WELL…

It’s a great little car.  If I could, I’d trade the GTI for it.  UNFORTUNATELY the A3 is a bit out of my humble price range, but my situation is probably different than yours.  If you’re looking for a small, luxury sport sedan I’d put this atop the list.  BMW has nothing for you in this segment (yet!), and the Mercedes CLA just isn’t as good.  It looks frumpy, and while the interior is a thing of beauty you still have to look at the iPad like infotainment screen perched atop the dash.  I know that makes it easier to replace if need be, but it looks so out of place!  Meanwhile, the screen in the A3 rises and disappears into the dash.

TL;DR- not the sportiest small German car you can buy, but the best small sedan.  Sporty when it needs to be, everyday transport all the time.  7.5/10, would go deeper into debt to pick one up.

Got a decent sized trunk too!  If you want to buy the car, go to here.

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