The Definition of "Premium Compact": The 2015 Audi A3 TDI

Front 3/4 view of 2015 Audi A3 TDI
The 2015 Audi A3 TDI.
"Solid as a bank vault".  "Feels as though it's been carved out of a block of granite".  Those are the phrases a generation of automotive journalists used in the 80s and 90s to describe the strength and solidity conveyed by that era's German sedans.  The phrases became cliche' and fell into disuse, but not because they were any less accurate than before.

Rear 3/4 view of 2015 Audi A3 TDI
2015 Audi A3 TDI.
Want proof?  Drive anything else, then go for a test drive in a 2015 Audi A3.  This was, just a few years ago, the baby Audi...very nearly too small.  But the A4 has stretched and spread and made room for a new level of space, comfort, maturity and refinement in the A3.

Our tester had the added bonus of being a TDI clean diesel, just as gas prices began their climb from record low levels back to an average of $3.00 for a gallon of regular.  Not only are gasoline and diesel within a few pennies of each other as of this writing, but the A3 TDI returns spectacular mileage (an EPA estimated 31 city/43 highway). There's something very cool about seeing a range of 545 miles on the trip computer when you start the car and watching those numbers go down verrrrry slowwwwly as your good driving habits are rewarded.

150 horsepower won't set the world on fire in terms of tire-smoking performance, but that's not what this car is about.  Acceleration is more than adequate, handling is as though it was hard-wired into your frontal lobes, responding to your commands rightnow, and the structure of the car is so stiff and solid that there's nothing to compromise the precision of the movements you dictate.

A base price of $32,600 for the front-wheel drive S tronic A3 TDI buys 17-inch, 10-spoke wheels, a full complement of airbags, ABS, ESC, brake assist, a panoramic sunroof, Xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights and taillgihts, a 12-way power adjustable driver's seat, leather seating surfaces, dual-zone automatic climate control, and an Audi sound system with SiriusXM satellite radio

2015 Audi A3 TDI interior.
Audi still makes some of the best interiors in the business, and the A3 is no exception...a study in clean lines, functionality and high-quality materials.  Our tester had options, including $550 for the beautiful Scuba Blue Metallic exterior paint, $2,550 for the A3 Premium Plus package (an upgrade to 18-inch, 10-spoke wheels, heated power front seats with four-way lumbar, heated exterior mirros, Audi advanced key, aluminum window surrounds and the aluminum interior package)  and $2,600 for the Audi MMI Navigation plus package, which brings HD Radio, Audi Connect, Audi MMI Touch, Navigation with voice control, and a color display.

Navigation screen for 2015 Audi A3
2015 Audi A3 TDI navigation screen.
And if you haven't driven an Audi in a while (or ever), treat yourself to their nav system, which melds with Google earth to give you a birds-eye view of what's really around you rather than blank spaces or colored blotches.  Wanna know how many houses on your block have swimming pools?  Just take a drive and fire up the nav.  It's also really good for zeroing in on where the parking lot really is for places you haven't been before.

With $895 destination charge, the bottom line came to $39.195.  $805 shy of 40 large is by no means cheap...but the A3 screams value even at that price.