Diminutive Audi A3 offers everything you would expect and more

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If you’re thinking of getting into a luxury branded vehicle, but are a little tight on budget, your timing couldn’t be better. There are many new compact luxury sedans on the market, the latest being the Audi A3, which is now in Pittsburgh area showrooms.

The A3 is for someone who wants something smaller, but still offer all the buzzers and bells of a full-sized Audi. In fact, even the base model A3 actually has more technology than some of brand’s full-sized models.

While interest so far has been across a wide spectrum, there’s no doubt that the A3 will appeal to a younger audience that’s techno-savvy. But the way it handles, it should also appeal to driving enthusiasts as well.

The new 2015 A3 is offered with two different powertrains: a 1.8-liter and a 2.0-liter as well as both front wheel and Audi’s legendary quattro all-wheel drive. The Audi A3 1.8 TFSI will start at $29,900 while the 2.0 TFSI will start at $32,900.

Both engines deliver plenty of power, but if you’re a performance fan, go for the larger 2.0-liter. The 1.8-liter puts out a very respectable 170 horsepower, while the larger powerplant puts out 220 horsepower.

Opt for the larger 2.0 and you won’t sacrifice at the pump. Both engines deliver 33 miles per gallon on the highway. However, premium fuel is recommended.

Both engines are mated to the standard six-speed S Tronic dual clutch automatic transmission. The one drawback is that there is no manual transmission available for purists. However, the dual clutch is more than adequate, providing immense shifting flexibility and driving pleasure. Indeed, it can actually hit shift points more accurately and quickly than even the most experienced of drivers.

The A3 also offers an optional Audi drive select system that allows you to adjust throttle response, shift points, and the electromechanical steering effort. Similar to other Audi models, you can choose between four settings that include: Auto, Dynamic, Comfort and Individual.

The A3 sits on a new platform in 2015 with the front wheels moved an inch and a half forward, compared to the previous A3. Upfront you’ll find MacPherson struts. The electromechanically assisted steering system is both responsive and tight. The electronic stability control system also includes an electronic differential lock that brakes the front inside wheel slightly to minimize understeer and improve traction.

As you might guess, all of these features all combine to make the A3 a pleasure to drive.

These days, of course, a car must have plenty of in-cabin technology. While it delivers on the road, the new A3 is also loaded with all kinds of new technology, including 4G LTE Connectivity. The A3 also offers MMI (Multi-Media Interface) Technology that has an electronically extending screen, its terminal housed in the console of the center dashboard.

They now offer a touch pad incorporated into the rotary MMI control wheel, which offers an intuitively and simple operation typical of the brand with the four rings.

The modular infotainment platform in the Audi A3 also brings several upgrades to its Audi connect service. This includes read aloud Facebook and Twitter alerts, access to more than 7,000 Internet broadcast stations, RSS news feeds and more. It also offers features like a text-to-speech function for e-mail and a dictation function for text messages.

An accompanying mobile app will allow advanced functionality between the MMI system and smartphones, passengers will be able to view high-definition videos and make video conference calls from the vehicle.

While diminutive in stature, the A3 is all Audi inside and out, on the road and in the cabin. It was also just awarded the highest safety rating available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety earning a Top Safety Pick+ (TSP+) rating.

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