Our content team arrived this morning with a particular air of excitement. The opportunity arose that would afford us a midweek hiatus from the office by conducting a few test drives at Audi Raleigh. If its location is unfamiliar, you merely need to drive north on Capital Boulevard beyond all of the indistinguishable vehicle brands until Audi’s signature four rings arrest your attention. A simple left-hand turn brings you to the threshold of a completely unique driving experience – do you dare to cross it?
We could spend paragraphs describing the immaculate showroom or the congeniality of the dealership’s staff, but the purpose of this writing is the car. Audi’s motto is “Truth in Engineering.” After driving the all-new A3, our team learned that there are a few characteristics flourishing within that truth: experience, history, luxury, quality, and precision. From the laser welding to the celebrated Quattro system, there is not a single compromise or shortcut in how these machines are engineered.
Another Audi “Truth”: the entry-level A3 is truly uncompromised.
2015 Audi A3 Premium Sedan quattro
Whether the wide-mouth grille of an Audi features the horizontal slats or honeycomb pattern, it previews the power and performance that await you behind the wheel. Distinctive “eyebrow” headlights border the grille, which create the look of a cunning smile – almost as if the car acknowledges its capabilities. Despite its diminutive statures, this is the type of vehicle that compels you to drive it.
Artful lines across the body form a lean, muscular look. A striking design feature is the tornado line that travels the entire car seemingly unbroken; it begins beneath the side-view mirrors and rounds the trunk’s top. The engineers placed a great deal of emphasis creating something aesthetically pleasing – days, even months must have been spent perfecting it. That is, however, the standard at Audi.
Our particular model was endowed with a blacked-out sunroof, which also served as a beautiful complement for the gray metallic color of the body. The method of retracting the sunroof is notable, as well: the rear lifts as it moves backwards while a bug screen expands, maintaining the aerodynamics of the vehicle and providing protection for passengers in the cabin. Inside the cabin, the retracted roof supplies ample sunlight for an enjoyable fresh air ride.
At the tail end of the A3, its marquee and designation are prominently displayed. After all, a little bragging isn’t hubris when you’re driving an Audi. The trunk, itself, has the same striations created by well-placed lines as the rest of the frame. The trunk offers ample storage room for a vehicle of its size while folding the rear seats flat offers additional storage space. Regardless of seat positioning, the trunk is large enough to stow baggage, groceries, and golf clubs; in fact, the trunk even has a space for club heads for that very purpose.
The interior of the 2015 Audi A3 is even more impressive than the exterior. Optimizing the space inside through innovative design ideas, smart curves, gorgeous trims, and complementary accents engenders a feeling of sporty sophistication. If you prefer a moderate offering of today’s technology married to a chic interior scheme, then this car satisfies all that you need.
Its leather seating and trim are a similar charcoal color, which is complemented well by silver-colored inlays and accents that line the dash and door, as well as surround the vents and clusters. All of the inlays – and rear view mirror – can be customized by the Service Department at Audi Raleigh and are designed to be interchangeable.
An Audi A3 optimizes space via a unique design.
The dashboard is quite minimized, but we mean that in the best way possible. It possesses an Aldous Huxley charm: futuristic yet simplistic and not at all similar to traditional dashes. Curves and lines race across the dashboard, giving it a sporty look with a lot of movement. Supplementing its sportiness are a series of air vents that resemble jet turbines. Very cool.
The middle console is home to cluster of buttons, the shifter, and rotary pad. This rotary pad controls the MMI that is displayed on the crisp screen that rises from the dash – another innovative method for maximizing cabin space.
Audi Connect initiates once the display has risen from the dash, and this program provides access to Google Earth through 4G LTE WiFi connection. You have the ability to geo-tag for direct navigation, as well as zoom down to street view while en-route. There are control options in the four corners of the display, and they correlate to the four buttons that surround the rotary pad on the middle console. Drivers can also enjoy the various methods to input a destination: use the rotary pad to select letters, utilize the voice activation, or simply draw the letters on the display.
There is a myriad of options to scroll through on the display, but all are delineated very well for ease of use. One of the most dynamic features is the methods through which you can play music. The car has Bluetooth connection for streaming from your phone – whether it’s iTunes or Pandora or any other source – and you can place a SIM card or mp3 CD in the input that is located inside the glove box.
For drivers who prefer to keep their eyes closer to the road, Audi installed a small display between the speedometer and odometer. Using the controls on the steering wheel (or middle console), you can view and select from all of the car’s applications.
The Test Drive
Now for everyone’s favorite part, especially ours. It’s time to get behind the wheel for the actual test drive.
With some brands, we like to check out the “bells and whistles” to see how they function while operating the vehicle. In certain models, some members of our team test the technology, such as the lane departure warning systems. This day, however, we sat behind the wheel of an Audi equipped with the quattro AWD system – and that makes a huge difference. Ignore the features and forego the technology; an Audi is meant to be driven.
The 2015 Audi A3 comes standard with a 2.0-liter TSFI four cylinder engine that cranks out 220 horsepower and 258 lbs-ft of torque. To be succinct: it’s a fun ride.
While nestled into the ergonomically immaculate seat behind the wheel, you have two driving options: “Drive” and “Sport.” Naturally, we decided to conduct most of the test drive in a more spirited manner – so you can easily deduce the selected option.
Driving it is exhilarating and passionate, awakening a dormant love of the road once fatigued into slumber by lesser machines. The A3 possesses the capability to bolt from a stationary position by engaging that impressive cache of torque. To adequately test the quattro system, we dashed through corners – without breaking traffic laws, for the record – as the all-wheel drive system gripped tenaciously to the asphalt. We felt grounded. Solid. Safe. Audi’s quattro is in a class of its own and earns the admiration of anyone who gets to experience it.
With the “Sport” mode still engaged, it does not require much pressure to swiftly accelerate. The throaty exhaust note sounds powerful without obstructing conversations within the cabin. That is a distinction between Audi and other brands. Sports performance options for other car manufacturers border on obnoxious as a result of artificially enhanced exhaust tones. Audi provides a pure driving experience and relies on its cars’ abilities to perform to attract consumers.
The Audi A3 handles incredibly well. We were interested in how the car would handle in the “Drive” mode. At this point, our team relished the superior qualities of the quattro and appreciated its acceleration and handling; furthermore, braking was buttery smooth and the suspension enriched the gratitude we felt toward Audi’s engineers.
Once we made the switch in options, we immediately felt the difference. The steering wheel loosened, the gears shifted at a different rate, and the car took on a more subdued persona. In “Drive,” this car operated in just the manner we’d value on longer drives. The characteristics of the car virtually remained the same: buttery braking, amazing suspension, great handling, and overall comfort did not fade.
Driving back to the dealership in this mode felt unhurried. The car reacted well to our movements, and it served as a great intermediary for our communication with the road. In the end, we can say with confidence that you can truly experience two very disparate driving styles in one car.
The 2015 Audi A3 is an ideal way to enter the luxury market. There are just enough features and options to entice new consumers without being overwhelming. Everyone can enjoy the prestige of driving a vehicle that boasts the four rings without offering their wallet as tribute to the automotive gods. In all, this car just may be evidence of Audi’s genius to turn every consumer into an Audi enthusiast.
Audi Raleigh offers the 2015 Audi A3 among its great inventory of quality vehicles. We encourage you to prioritize this dealership, for you will find a great experience. And a major facet to what makes this experience so enjoyable is the staff you’ll find here. Our team would be terribly remiss if we did not give thanks to an amazing brand ambassador: Craig Elstak. He demonstrated a thorough understanding of the car, took great consideration in explaining all that it offered, and, all the while, made the test drive comfortable and entertaining. While we remain certain that there are many great members to this dealership’s staff, Craig is surely someone you want to find during your visit.