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November 2005
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2006 Audi A3 2.0 DSG

The Good  Hot compact exterior looks, powerful design elements, crisp steering, dsg transmission, high quality.

The Bad  Front wheel drive, not much headroom in back seats, navigation controls are far to reach, price can increase rapidly. 

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            Audi's most recent new vehicle for the US market is the 2006 Audi A3 2.0, sold in Europe since 1996 but only now available to us here.  A hot and trendy design in mini wagon form built for passionate driving, the A3 hopes to sell better than other small offerings from BMW and Mercedes.  Recently having won a double best pick from the insurance institute for highway safety, Audi becomes the first manufacturer to have three cars winning as a double best pick.  Ingolstadt's newest car in the US sometimes looks like a VW dressed well for dinner.  The stylish, progressive, younger crowd is just what Audi is going after, and it wants to filter out the ones which want the Audi name and are willing to pay for it.

            The exterior design of the Audi A3 is a unique and exciting piece of work.  From the new face of the Audi grille to its low and mean looking hood and front bumper, the Audi A3 is pure exhilaration.  Take a look from the side and this Audi A3 reminds us of the previous A4 in size.  The slight slope as you approach the rear is a modern and fresh design scheme used by many.  The Audi A3 sits low, with large 17-inch wheels.  Wheel gaps are equally small for a superb fit.  We like the large front grille and low mounted fog lamps.  The rear end is sculpted and looks strong. 

            The interior is typical Audi with great build quality and a drivers seating position.  The low seat position up front and firm seats with hard bolsters keeps you in place.  Leather seating surfaces feel very good.  There is nothing like the feel of true aluminum trim and the interior of our Audi A3 has plenty.  This created a very sporty ambiance.  Large solid door handles feel great to the touch.  A deep armrest in each front door with grab handle was perfect.  The shift gate moves with a solid feeling, just a bit notchy.  The steering wheel is wrapped with soft leather and is of very good thickness, perforated leather around the sides was even better.  Seat bolsters are also made for sporty driving.  Our favorite dial buttons on the steering wheel are great and very easy to use.  Everything is located in near prefect location from the driver except the navigation control knob, which is hard to use in its current position. 

            At night, the instrument cluster of the Audi A3 glows red, with a crisp liquid red color of the needles highlighting the dash.  High quality can also be found in the dual moonroofs which attach nicely and retract smoothly in the Audi A3.  Wind noise was a bit high with the main front sunroof fully open.  Rear seating legroom and width is good.  The seating position is flatter and higher for a good view but you are very close to the roof panel.  If you are tall we suggest you try the rear seats before buying this car.  You will notice the grey stitching on the dark black leather seats as another nice touch.  The luggage compartment is a roomy 36.4 cubic feet and carpeted nicely showing good quality throughout.  A small pass through is available for skis as well as easy single button lowering of the seats in a split fashion. 

            The Audi A3's navigation system is very easy to use and quick, not to mention  beautiful.  It is one of our favorite systems and allows quick operation and lookup by phone number so you do not have to always input a long address.  Bose speakers add high quality sound to the stereo system with six-disc CD changer built into the dash unit.  2 SD card slots located behind the screen allow you to carry MP3 music in a light and inexpensive format.  Optional Satellite radio truly sounded very good with this great sound system.  These features make the Audi A3 feel like a very modern vehicle.

            The automatic climate control system in the Audi A3 works very well, set a temperature and forget about the rest.  A pollen filter keeps out smelly fumes and a sun sensor helps raise or lower temperature when sun is facing your skin.  A host of other features are available like rain sensor, trip computer, and anti theft alarm system.  Our tester featured the optional xenon headlamps which we think are a essential option in today's cars. 

            The Audi A3 offers two engine choices; our tester was equipped with the 2.0T FSI four cylinder engine with turbocharger, while a six cylinder can also be had.  The four cylinder produces 200 horsepower and 207 lbs. ft. or torque from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm.  This is the first production engine which combines direct injection with a turbocharger.  The engine is very powerful for this front wheel drive Audi A3.  We would much rather have a all wheel drive system as we could hear screeching many times when accelerating with only the front wheels.  The alternative 3.2 liter V6 engine producing 250 horsepower and 237 lbs. ft. of torque is combined with a Quattro all wheel drive system and DSG transmission is available on the Audi A3 for slightly more money.  Our tests revealed a 0 – 60 mph time of 6.2 seconds. 

            Revolutionary is the DSG transmission which is the way all cars should be sold from Audi.  A conventional six speed manual gearbox is the basis of the transmission providing acceleration without interrupting the flow of power from the engine.  Shifts are handled extremely quickly with a ‘puff' of the exhaust.  Paddle shifting at the steering wheel is a option, as is a sport mode which holds gears and upshifts as you slow down keeping rpm's high.  It is all very fun and we wish it would replace all automatics.  Perhaps the only flaw is that when shifting to park, the car moves a bit too much before coming to rest, so an electronic parking brake should be standard.

            Audi characteristics really show themselves behind the wheel of the Audi A3. Everything you would expect from a German brand can be had in the Audi A3 except for one little item, four wheel drive.  The suspension is a sporty and agile four link system offering good stability and cornering.  Road feel is excellent and cornering is predictive.  Comfort from the suspension is on the sporty side.  A electromechanical steering with speed dependent power assistance offers excellent feel and ease of use in all conditions.  Power comes on strong due to the turbo charger and the sudden push can be too much for just the front wheels, especially when turning. 

            On long journeys, the Audi A3 can get a bit tiring even though it still urges you to go faster.  The low seating position and hard seats are not as comfortable as a Mercedes or a BMW.  And the low roofline gets very close as you raise either front seat.  Headroom is also low in the rear seating compartment where even 5'10” persons felt as if they were hitting the roof.  The dual sky roof does help give the interior a more open feeling, however we just wish the roof was either higher or the seat a bit lower.

            Our test car started at a base retail price of $26,140 with the automatic DSG gearbox.  Metallic paint added an extra $450.  The Audi navigation plus sound package adds our favorite nav system with a great premium Bose sound system for $2,850.  A sport package for $1,800 ads the large 17 inch alloy wheels with summer performance tires for extreme grip, a sport suspension, aluminum trim, leather multifunction sport steering wheel, roof spoiler, fog lights, leather seating surfaces and sport seats.  The dual sunroof system called open sky is for $1,100.  A cold weather package costs $700 and offers ski sack and heated front seats, heated windshield washer nozzles and heated exterior mirrors.  Xenon headlights are an additional $500.  Satellite radio adds $350.  Driving a car with all these options truly lets you feel like you are driving a modern machine.  We still felt uncomfortable without power front seats and dimming rearview mirrors.  Remember most Audi dealers offer generous discounts so a price close to invoice is what is a real world number. 

            Safety features are great as in most German vehicles.  Dual front airbags and active front head restraints are standard.  Seat belt chimes force you to wear the seat belts in both front positions.  Side airbags as well as inflatable curtain airbags and optional side airbags in the rear compartment add to the safety devices.

            The Audi A3 features a four year or 50,000 mile warranty with full maintenance included as well as roadside assistance should you ever have a flat tire.  EPA fuel mileage is listed at 25 city and 31 highway. 

            For those seeking German quality in a small aggressive car the Audi A3 is great.  Quality is better than VW vehicles, combined with firmness, better navigation system, and maintenance included in the price makes this a good buy.  Would someone buy this over a A4 avant?  That is questionable but sufficient styling differences make the Audi A3 look more fun and exciting.  Price can get high and so we would encourage Audi to keep prices low in the future.  The fully loaded price of the Audi A3 should be $25,000.  The competition offers different vehicles for less price and so the unique buyer who loves Audi styling will be drawn in with this slightly lower priced car when he could not reach the price of a new A4.  Minor improvements such as power seats, automatic headlights, and dimming rearview mirrors would make you feel like you have bought a complete car.  We used to believe that Audi's were a bargain when compared to a comparable BMW or Mercedes however now you only save a few thousand dollars.  We would like to save about $5,000 and get a truly better car for the money.  

 

 

PRICING INVOICE RETAIL
Base Pricing 24,450 26,140
Destination 720 720
PAW Cold Weather Pkg 637 700
PCC Convenience Pkg 614 675
PNM Navigation & Sound Pkg 2606 2850
PPD Premium Pkg 1843 2025
RSV Sound Pkg 819 900
WPS Sport Pkg 1638 1800
3FB Moon Roofs, Power Open Sky System 1000 1100
9ZG Bluetooth Wireless Connectivity 396 435
PX6 Headlamps, Bi-HID 592 650
PX6 Headlamps, Low beam only HID 455 500
PNN Navigation System, DVD-Based 1787 1950
4X4 Restraint System, Rear Side Impact Air Bag 319 350
QV8  Satellite Radio Feature

 

319 350

 

  2006 Audi A3
2.0T 4dr Wagon (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 6A)
2005 Saab 9-2X
Linear 4dr Sport Wagon (2.5L 4cyl 5M)
2005 Volvo V50
2.4i Fwd 4dr Sport Wagon (2.4L 5cyl 5A)
2005 Mazda MAZDA6
s Grand Touring 4dr Sport Wagon (3.0L 6cyl 6A)
2005 Dodge Magnum
RT Rwd 4dr Wagon (5.7L 8cyl 5A)
MSRP $26,140 $22,990 $25,990 $26,795 $30,070
Invoice $24,370 $21,841 $24,466 $24,707 $27,733
Destination Charge $720 $695 $695 $560 $675
Basic 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Drivetrain 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 7 yr. / 70000 mi.
Roadside 4 yr. / Unlimited mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 4 yr. / Unlimited mi. 4 yr. / 50000 mi. 3 yr. / 36000 mi.
Rust 12 yr. / Unlimited mi. 6 yr. / Unlimited mi. 8 yr. / Unlimited mi. 5 yr. / Unlimited mi. 5 yr. / 100000 mi.
Base Engine Type & Cylinders inline 4 flat 4 inline 5 V6 V8
Base Engine Displacement 2.0 liters 2.5 liters 2.4 liters 3.0 liters 5.7 liters
Valvetrain 16 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
single overhead cam (SOHC)
20 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
24 Valves
double overhead cam (DOHC)
16 Valves
overhead valves (OHV)
Compressor turbocharger Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Horsepower 200 hp @ 5100 rpm 165 hp @ 5600 rpm 168 hp @ 6000 rpm 220 hp @ 6300 rpm 340 hp @ 5000 rpm
Torque 207 ft-lbs. @ 1800 rpm 166 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm 170 ft-lbs. @ 4400 rpm 192 ft-lbs. @ 5000 rpm 390 ft-lbs. @ 4000 rpm
Driven Wheels front wheel drive all wheel drive front wheel drive front wheel drive rear wheel drive
Tires P225/45YR17
all season
P205/55RR16
all season
P205/55R16
all season
P215/50VR17
all season
Being Researched
Wheels alloy rims
17 x 7.5 in.
alloy rims
16 x 6.5 in.
alloy rims
16 x 6.5 in.
alloy rims
17 x 7.0 in.
polished alloy rims
18 x 7.5 in.
Sunroof power glass - Optional power glass - Optional power glass - Optional power glass power glass - Optional
Rear Sunroof fixed glass - Optional Not Available Not Available Not Available Not Available
Xenon Headlights Optional Optional Optional Not Available Not Available
Turning Circle 35.1 ft. 35.4 ft. 34.9 ft. 38.7 ft. 38.9 ft.
City 25 mpg. 22 mpg. 22 mpg. 20 mpg. 17 mpg.
Highway 31 mpg. 29 mpg. 30 mpg. 27 mpg. 25 mpg.
Length 168.7 in. 175.6 in. 177.7 in. 187.8 in. 197.7 in.
Width   66.7 in. 69.7 in. 70.1 in. 74.1 in.
Height 56 in. 57.7 in. 57.2 in. 57.3 in. 58.4 in.
Weight 3329 lbs. 3070 lbs. 3269 lbs. 3461 lbs. 4179 lbs.
Wheel Base 101.5 in. 99.4 in. 103.9 in. 105.3 in. 120 in.
Ground Clearance 4.4 in. 5.9 in.   5.1 in. 5.6 in.
Interior
Front Headroom 38.1 in. 39.7 in. 38.9 in. 38 in. 38.4 in.
Rear Headroom   37.3 in. 38.1 in. 38.6 in. 38.1 in.
Front Shoulder Room 54.3 in. 52.7 in. 55.2 in. 56.1 in. 58.7 in.
Rear Shoulder Room   52.9 in. 54.1 in. 54.9 in. 57.6 in.
Front Leg Room 41.2 in. 42.9 in. 41.6 in. 42.3 in. 41.8 in.
Rear Leg Room   33.7 in. 34.4 in. 36.5 in. 40.2 in.
Maximum Luggage Capacity 13.1 cu.ft. 27.9 cu.ft. 27.4 cu.ft. 33.7 cu.ft. 27.2 cu.ft.

 

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