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Audi A3

The original luxury subcompact.

DIESEL

A premium-brand subcompact seemed strange when the Audi A3 first arrived in 2006, but the market seems to be coming around to the idea. Witness the Lexus CT200h, the Volvo C30, and now the Acura ILX and the Buick Verano. The reason for this trend is that there are enough places in the United States — in large cities, for instance — where space is at a premium and small but versatile cars make sense. Often, those urban buyers are wealthy enough to afford a luxury vehicle. Being an Audi, the A3 has its share of premium equipment such as standard leather, but it is based on the last-generation Volkswagen Golf, and that means it’s getting on in years. That’s evident in its packaging — interior room is at a premium — and in its fuel economy. There are plenty of bigger cars that get better gas mileage than the A3 with its 2.0T four-cylinder. The available TDI engine, however, needs no excuses. It hits 42 mpg on the highway and comes standard with Audi’s benchmark dual-clutch automatic transmission. We think a torque-happy turbo-diesel is a much more pleasant way to break the 40-mpg barrier than in a breathless, underpowered hybrid. The only bummer is that, unlike the 2.0T, the diesel engine can’t be had with a manual transmission, nor can it be combined with all-wheel drive.

COMPETITORS

Acura ILX

Lexus CT200h

Mini Cooper

Volvo C30

new for 2013

The 2013 model year is a quiet one for the A3, which is no surprise as this model is about to go in for a redesign. Expect a new version for 2014, which will be available as a four-door sedan as well.

SAFETY EQUIPMENT

Front, side, and side curtain air bags; ABS; and traction and stability control are standard. Rear side air bags are optional.

High Mileage

MPG

CITY 21–30

HWY 28–42

PRO

Fast and luxurious

Fuel economy (TDI)

Available all-wheel drive

CON

It’s not cheap

Fuel economy (2.0T)

Aging design

Base Price Range: $28,165–$33,145

SPECIFICATIONS

DRIVE: Front-wheel, 4-wheel

TRIM LEVELS: 2.0T Premium, 2.0T Premium Plus, 2.0 TDI Premium, 2.0 TDI Premium Plus

BODY STYLE: Wagon, 5-passenger

ENGINES: 2.0L turbo-diesel I-4, 140 hp, 236 lb-ft

2.0L turbo I-4, 200 hp, 207 lb-ft

TRANSMISSIONS: 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic

PASSENGER VOLUME: 89.0 cu ft

CARGO SPACE: (rear seats up/down) 19.5/39.0 cu ft

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