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2017 Audi A3: Improvements All Around

The Audi A3 took long enough, too long I would say, to get to these shores. It’s a fine little car that hits a certain sweet spot: it’s big enough to be useful when you need it to be, but it’s not so big that it becomes a ponderous chore in the tight and twisties.

And the latest version has some nice upgrades here and there.

The Replacements

Power. It all comes down to power – Audis are, after all, German cars. And even though they stress the A3 is the “entry to the Audi premium lineup,” they also highlight what’s under the hood; that’s where you should look first.

Both the 2017 Audi A3 Sedan and Cabriolet are now to be had with a more efficient 2.0-liter TFSI engine and seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch transmission. The new 2-liter not only puts out more power than the engine it replaces, but it’s more practical, presenting an EPA-estimated 29 mpg combined fuel economy rating.

The 2.0-liter mill replaces the 1.8-liter engine previously offered on A3 front-wheel drive models. The new 2.0-liter engine offers increased performance and the driving dynamics are better, says Audi. No doubt that has a lot to do with the fact there’s a bump of 16 horsepower and 21 lb-ft. of torque compared to the previous generation.

Not a bad improvement in either measurement.

Transmission Characteristics

Downstream of the engine there’s a new seven-speed S tronic dual clutch transmission. Gone and not missed in the slightest are the days of the Tiptronic automatic/manual “please let this thing downshift since I asked it to last week.”

This engine/trans combo can deliver 186 horsepower and 221 lb-ft. of torque, which is going to be fun in this car. That drivetrain means the 2017 A3 can get from 0-60 mph in a not shabby at all 6.6 seconds for the sedan. If you opt for the drop top version, you’ll hit six-oh in 7.2 seconds, a reduction of 0.6 seconds.

Motor Magic

There’s more tech wizardry going on within the A3’s 2.0T mill. The engine utilizes a combustion method with shorter compression and longer expansion phases. Audi, sadly, doesn’t go into detail as to how they do this. Which is a shame, cause I bet it’s lots of geeky fun. At the moment, I’m betting on some sort of cam/valve timing thing.

Audi has also upped the compression ratio to 11.7:1 from 9.6:1. The Ingolstadt company says this further improves the engine’s efficiency and “allows for greater power and torque delivery.” Really? Ya think? A squeeze factor of 11.7:1 is going to bump the muscle and grunt. quelle surprise!

Oh, and in case you were wondering about Audi’s signature party trick in the automotive world, rest assured the A3 Sedan and Cabriolet are also available with the higher output, 2.0 TFSI quattro all-wheel drive turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It’s mated to a six-speed S tronic dual clutch automatic transmission.

For 2016, the Audi A3 / S3 line included seven variants, four body styles, and five engine choices. Photo: Audi of America.

Creature Comforts

Although the 2017 Audi A3 is small, they are quick to point out how they don’t skimp on the C & C features. Both the A3 Sedan and Cabriolet have a lot/most/all of the goodies found in the brand’s full-size luxury vehicles.

Audi phrases it thusly: “an affordable premium compact model.”

Nice turn of the phrase, that.

The A3 model line offers a multitude of standard first-class features such as leather seating surfaces, a honking panoramic sunroof on the sedan, and dual-zone automatic climate controls – all nice touches in this segment of the market. There’s also Xenon front lighting with LED daytime running headlights and LED taillights.

Exterior Styling

Also new for 2017 is a reworked exterior that includes a new headlight design and other modernized cues like an all-new front fascia with a wider Singleframe grille. Eeyeah . . . I’m not sure what on Earth a “Singleframe” grille exactly means, but it means enough that Audi went and registered that portmanteau name. Excuse me while I try and get the pretentiousness out of my head. Audi says the, ugh, Singleframe grille makes the A3 appear even sportier and more aggressive on the road.

Sure. Whatever, pal.

Pricing & Availability

Now, the not so good news: The 2017 Audi A3 Sedan and Cabriolet aren’t exactly Kia priced. There’s three flavors here PREMIUM, PREMIUM PLUS, and PRESTIGE (yeah, all caps, and I don’t know why – sorry if you thought I was yelling at you).

Within these trim levels, things start, start mind you, with the A3 Sedan FWD model at the PREMIUM level for $31,200, and go all the way up to the A3 Cabriolet FWD ringing up for $46,550. Audi makes no mention of what the Quattro versions go for. I’m guessing it will be between “a lot” and “a lot, a lot, a lot.”

Both the 2017 Audi A3 FWD Sedan and Cabriolet with the 2.0-liter engine are on sale now.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life around racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.

Photos & Source: Audi of America