We’ve got some shocking news for convertible fans. The Audi A3 Cabriolet is still on sale in North America.
Did you forget that it existed? We sure did. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem we’ll have going into 2020, as this is to be the model’s last year. Of course, this changes next to nothing as we haven’t seen one in the wild some time. In fact, it’s difficult to recall the last occasion any automotive outlet even bothered reviewing one.
As the spiritual successor to VW’s now-defunct cabriolets, the open-air A3 occupies an interesting place in the market. It’s a little pricey for most parents looking to treat their college-aged daughters, with a starting MSRP of $39,000, and lacks the oomph and prestige of Audi’s other drop-top offerings.
The recent news that Volkswagen is pondering an all-wheel-drive Golf for U.S. customers surprised many.
“All-wheel drive is now part of the Volkswagen DNA,” commented Dr. Hendrik Muth of Volkswagen at the U.S. launch of the Alltrack.
That means Volkswagen will be taking on Subaru, the reigning king of all-wheel drive for the masses in the U.S. And since the Golf is already fairly dear in price, adding an all-wheel-drive option to the hatch will make Volkswagen’s compact a near-luxury item. At that price, why wouldn’t you just buy an Audi? It’s the brand with the all-wheel-drive expertise in the VAG clan.
But the reality of an all-wheel-drive Golf is now 20 years old.
Let’s take a look back at nine of the more interesting pre-Alltrack, pre-4Motion versions of the Golf that most U.S. customers have never even heard of.
The jumps in price from the four-door Volkswagen Golf GTI to the Volkswagen Golf R to the Audi S3, three closely related cars, are not insignificant. Yet in spite of the dollar differences, or perhaps because of the dollar differences, the trio inevitably undergoes the value proposition comparison, as if “value” is the reason 460 buyers per month spend around $40,000 on a Volkswagen hatchback.
I’ve now been privileged to spend a week with each car. Sadly, a Lapiz Blue 2016 Volkswagen Golf R just left my driveway to make room for, as fate would have it, a 2016 Toyota Prius.
And I have no trouble making the case for the Golf R as the fast VeeDub to own.
Emissions legislation politics is a hairy subject at the company holiday party. But there are some unexpected benefits regardless of your take on California’s ZEV mandate or the EPA’s CAFE standards.
Without this legislation we may never have seen Audi’s smallest station wagon return to America. Yep, Audi’s first plug-in hybrid comes in the form of a small hatchback-cum-station-wagon. That means if you want an Audi plug-in, a compact wagon is in your future. If you want a compact wagon, you aren’t going to get one without a plug.
Fortunately, the Audi in question is the tasty new A3 Sportback E-tron.
Most luxury roadsters are related to a practical, rear-wheel-drive sports sedan, but Audi prefers to march to a different drummer.
Since its inception in 1998, the Audi TT has been based not on the A4, but on the Volkswagen Golf. The original TT was the product of Audi’s best and brightest and it not only blew minds at its debut for its design, it was a hoot to drive as well.
The second generation of the TT on the other hand, failed to impress. It’s not that it was a bad car, it just didn’t excite me like the first generation did. The handling was good, but BMW’s Z4 and Mercedes’ SLK were more fun. The exterior was bolder and meaner than the original, but the interior was too “VW Golf” for the price tag. Every time I sat in one I would say to myself, “Something is missing.”
As luck would have it, Audi’s engineers were also searching for that “something.” And they found it.
Audi announced last week that owners of its A3 TDI model would be offered the same goodwill program available to Volkswagen TDI owners.
The program, which started Nov. 20, offers owners the same $500 prepaid Visa card that can be used anywhere and a $500 dealership gift card that can be used at Audi dealerships. Three years of roadside assistance also will be included in the goodwill program.
According to Audi’s diesel information site, accepting the goodwill package doesn’t preclude owners from suing Audi in the future.
According to Kelley Blue Book, auction prices for Volkswagen’s diesels cars are dropping faster than similar models that are powered by gasoline.
According to auction data gathered before and after news broke that Volkswagen had admitted to federal investigators that their cars illegally polluted, prices for Volkswagen diesel cars dropped 16 percent. Prices for Volkswagen gasoline cars only dipped 2.9 percent over the same period.
According to the car industry site, interest on the Volkswagen diesel models has only declined 2.4 percent.
In all reality, Volkswagen probably won’t pay $37,500 for each car that cheated its way through U.S. emissions standards, but the German automaker will probably pay thousands for each car to fit a device that would clean up their acts.
The presumed fix would come by retrofitting a Selective Catalytic Reduction (Adblue or urea) system although that wouldn’t be the only fix necessary. Researchers discovered that the Passat TDI that they tested, fitted with the SCR system, was 5 to 20 times over the NO limit — less than the 10 to 40 times by the lean NO filter cars, but still illegal.
The long list of items needed to fit models of the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Beetle and Audi A3 doesn’t include the engineering needed to retrofit the cars and the costs to crash test the models after the significant modifications. That’ll add hundreds of millions to the bottom line.
Volkswagen in Canada will suspend sales of its Volkswagen Passat, Golf, Jetta, Beetle and Audi A3 cars after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the engines in those cars had an illegal device that “cheated” emissions tests.
“We will work with our colleagues at Volkswagen of America as well as our parent company in Germany to resolve this matter in the most timely fashion,” Volkswagen Canada spokesman Thomas Tetzlaff said in a statement.
Audi Canada has also issued a stop-sale of the Audi A3 TDI, stated Audi Canada spokesman Cort Nielson. No details were available regarding Audi’s plan for continued availability of the A3 TDI.
VW hasn’t announced a timeline for fixing its cars and resuming sales. Over the weekend, VW’s CEO Martin Winterkorn apologized for the scandal.
2015 Audi S3 Prestige (U.S.)/Technik (Canada)
2.0-liter TFSI DOHC I-4, turbocharged, direct injection (292 horsepower @ 5,400-6,200 rpm; 280 lbs-ft of torque @ 1,900-5,300 rpm)
Six-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic transmission w/ all-wheel drive
23 city/31 highway/26 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
23.1 mpg on the GIVE ME ALL THE BOOST! cycle (Observed, MPG)
Tested Options: Technology Package, LED Headlights, 19-inch 5-Parallel Spoke S Wheels, Spang Blue Pearl Effect paint, Audi Magnetic Ride, Red Brake Calipers
Base Price (Prestige/Technik):
$47,895* (U.S.)/$49,595* (Canada)
As Tested Price:
$52,395* (U.S.)/$54,845* (Canada)
* All prices include $895 destination fee (U.S.) or $2,095 destination fee, PDI and A/C tax (Canada).
Inline, four-cylinder engine. Turbocharging. All-wheel drive. More than 250 horsepower.
Ten years ago, that combination was a rarity in the compact performance segment. Now you can have it all day, every day from Ford, Mitsubishi, Subaru (with a boxer engine) and Volkswagen.
If you have some extra cash laying around — as you do — Mercedes, BMW and Audi will certainly fill your order.
In this sea of choice, turbocharging is the norm, all-wheel drive is becoming more commonplace due to astronomical output numbers, and active differentials and suspensions are programmed to give you Group B levels of confidence.
So, what separates them all from one another? Horsepower, certainly, if you are the type of person to count each and every calculated output unit and declare the top performer — which is the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 — the winner. You could prefer the driving dynamics of rear-wheel drive, thus BMW would provide your only real option.
But, if you aren’t caught up in the numbers or mode of output, the Audi S3 does have a qualitative trick up its sleeve.
Audi announced this week that its plug-in hybrid version of the A3, dubbed A3 Sportback e-tron, will go on sale in October and cost $38,825 to start — $47,725 in Prestige trim — before federal and state incentives.
The car, which combines an 8.8 kWh battery and a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, will make a combined 204 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy and range for all-electric driving hasn’t been announced by the automaker, although some reports peg the EV range at 30 miles.
The A3 plug-in hybrid will be the first Audi to run (at least partially) on electricity in the States.
I own a 2006 Audi A3 2.0T with the DSG dual clutch gearbox. I really like the car, and my plan had been to keep it for a long time. As the original owner I’ve racked up nearly 125,000 miles. I’ve scrupulously kept up with the maintenance, and service on the car, though those 125,000 miles haven’t been exactly trouble-free.
Like most manufacturers, BMW is getting ready for the pilgrimage to Shanghai, where the Shanghai Motor Show will open its doors to the press on April 19, and to the public on April 21. Some at BMW go with mixed feelings. There will be some delicate discussions between BMW brass and their Chinese joint venture partner Brilliance. The reason: At Asia’s and possibly the world’s most important auto show, Brilliance will show their A3 SUV. Germany’s Auto Bild calls it “a brazen BMW X1 rip-off, with inspirations from Audi.”
The matter becomes even more touchy as BMW plans to produce the X1 in China with a launch date in 2012. It will be built by BMW’s Chinese joint venture with Brilliance.