I’m sure you’ve seen banner ads and billboards for lease deals on a brand-new Audi A3. They’re all incredibly low, under $300, making so many people wonder “Wow, I can really get a brand new Audi for that little?”. And it’s true, you can, as Audi is leasing the base model A3 for very little money. But what they don’t tell you is that it’s awful.
Okay, so maybe awful is a bit harsh, but it’s certainly not up to the standards that Audis should be. The base model is front-wheel drive, comes with the same 1.8T engine from the Volkswagen Jetta and is about as enjoyable to drive as a Lada Riva filled with furious bees. It’s slow, numb and uninspiring. While the Audi A3 2.0T Quattro isn’t exactly a 996 Porsche 911, it’s far better than the base 1.8T A3. So thank the four-ringed Gods that it’s going out to pasture for good.
Audi has just announced that, for 2017 models, the base engine in the Audi A3 will be the Volkswagen Group’s new 2.0T engine, in front-wheel drive models. This bumps power up from 170 hp to 186 hp and torque up from 200 lb-ft to 221 lb-ft. It also gets a new transmission, Audi’s new seven-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch, rather than the old six-speed unit. So 0-60 mph happens .6 seconds faster, doing the sprint in 6.6 seconds. Fuel economy also goes up to 26/35, city/highway, from 23/33.
The Quattro variants will still get the same 220 hp and 258 lb-ft variant of the same engine. However, that higher trim-level car will still come with the old six-speed automatic gearbox. Though Audi does admit the seven-speed unit is coming, it made more financial sense to only roll out one new powertrain for the A3 next year.
We already knew that the newly refreshed Audi A3 was coming with new headlights, to match the newer A4, and a slightly revised string and suspension, but the new engine is a nice bonus for base models. While we would personally never go for a front-wheel drive Audi, we can appreciate that it finally comes with a good engine and great gearbox, so it’s no longer a glorified Volkswagen Jetta.