Who says a small, efficient car also has to be cheap and boring? This 2011 Audi A3 turbo diesel delivers on its promise of luxury and efficiency, all at a surprisingly affordable price. It has a winning combination of quality, sportiness and attractive styling that is a rarity among small cars. In addition to top safety ratings, sporty performance and high quality, Audi offers an optional TDI diesel engine to the mix. The diesels fuel economy is impressive, and drivers should expect to average 30 mpg in the city and 42 mpg on the highway -- figures other upscale small cars can't match.
This 2011 Audi A3 was purchased just a few months ago and shows only 9313 miles from new. Dressed in Brilliant Black, Audis dedication to high quality, even in its least expensive car, is evident on every square inch of the body. The paint is the same stuff that covers the $100,000 A8, and as a result, it's deep, rich, and blemish-free. The doors open and close like the proverbial bank vault, and the cars sporty shape masks its relatively modest proportions it looks like a much bigger, more expensive vehicle. Despite the fact that it has been driven over 9000 miles, it looks showroom fresh, with very little evidence of having been driven. There are no glaring chips on the nose, no road rash behind the wheel wells, and between Audis galvanized steel bodies and easy living in the warm, dry south, you know there's no rust.
The 2.0 liter TDI engine is a wonderful powerplant for this luxurious hatchback, delivering impressive performance as well as amazing fuel economy. Driving the front wheels through a six-speed S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission, it was built for people looking for great fuel economy but who are not willing to give up luxury or performance. The four cylinder diesel makes 140 horsepower and a whopping 236 pounds of torque, which make this car amazingly quick off the line, and it pulls well at any speed. Forget 40 horsepower Volkswagen Rabbit diesels and clattering exhaust notes that sound like the muffler is full of marbles, this is a highly sophisticated engine that brings no handicaps to the table in the Audi. Paired with the quick-shifting DSC gearbox, which has both manual and automatic modes, performance is comparable to the turbocharged gasoline engine that's also available, yet manages only 70% of the diesels fuel economy. And with such low mileage, this diesel has a long, healthy life ahead of it, with similar engines often running for hundreds of thousands of miles with only routine maintenance.
The A3 isn't just about fuel economy. The all-independent suspension delivers agile handling and a taut European ride that is better than anything else you'll find in the sub-$30,000 price range. Four-wheel disc brakes provide confident braking under all conditions, and I will personally vouch for Audis stability control systems, which are the best in the industry. 17-inch motorsport-inspired wheels offer a visual complement to the A3. Additionally, year-round performance is enhanced with 225/45/17 Continental all-season tires, which show only light wear today.
The interior is a leather-lined cocoon of luxury, surprisingly upscale and loaded with options given the A3s price. Equipped with the Premium Plus package, the driver's seat features power adjustability, the cool 3-spoke steering wheel is wrapped in black leather, and a dual-zone climate control system is standard equipment. The $2000 Premium Plus package also includes Xenon headlights, Bluetooth interface, aluminum belt line trim, as well as the Illumination and Storage packages. Then there's the $1275 Convenience Package that adds an auto-dimming inside mirror with a compass, a rain and light sensor, Bose premium sound system, and rear parking sensors that sound a warning as you get too close to an object. Overhead, you'll be pleased to discover a positively massive 2-panel glass sunroof, called the Open Sky Sunroof, which is an $1100 option as well. Heated seats, washer nozzles and side mirrors are part of the Cold Weather Package, which work rather well with the all-weather floor mats. Finally, there are beautiful Walnut wood inlays that warm up the interior, looking more like they belong in an A8 than a relatively inexpensive A3. Of course, everything is in outstanding condition, with almost no discernible wear to any of the seating surfaces or carpets thanks to careful use by the original owner.
Documentation is just what you would expect from a car that has been kept from new by a car fanatic. We have the original window sticker, order form, odometer statement, and temporary license tag registration, all issued new by the dealer. Then there are the manuals, including the owner's manual, sound system manual, emissions control warranty booklet, and service guide. Finally, there are quick reference guides for both the car itself, as well as the XM/Sirius radio.
In short, the A3 is an awful lot of car for the money, especially this one, which is equipped with every available option and stickered for over $37,000 new. With less than 10,000 gently used miles, it's virtually new, and is still covered by the manufacturer's new car warranties. The only thing this car doesn't come with is a full-sized MSRP: you can buy this loaded almost-new A3 with the desirable TDI engine for about what you'd pay for a no-options base model. For people who appreciate a little luxury with their economy, the A3 is a home run. With this A3 TDI and its many options, the current asking price simply makes it a grand slam. Call now.
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