2013 Audi A3 TDI

There’s an all-new Audi A3 for 2013. It’s slightly bigger, yet lighter, has three new engines including a more powerful diesel and is offered with an expanded line of body styles: two- and four-door hatchbacks, a sedan and a convertible. That sounds like good news except the 2013 A3 is only available in Europe. We won’t see one until early next year as a 2014 model and, we will only see one—the sedan. That’s right, no four-door hatchback wagon, at least not for some time according to Audi.

The Audi A3 TDI (Turbocharged Direct Injection) clean diesel four-door hatchback first hit U.S. shores in early 2010. It drew an impressive amount of acclaim from critics and earned the title 2010 Green Car of the Year, an annual award presented by Green Car Journal. Since then, sales have exceeded expectations. Credit the A3 TDI’s success to some green cred, really good fuel mileage (30 mpg city/42 highway), the distinct German flavor of Audi and, oh yeah, it’s fun to drive.

Since we’re waiting for the all-new 2014 model, there are no changes to the 2013 A3 TDI. Pricing is also unchanged, starting at $30,250 for both trim levels, Premium and Premium Plus.

The Powertrain

The A3 TDI utilizes a 2.0-liter in-line-four-cylinder diesel engine with four valves per cylinder to produce 140 horsepower and 236 pounds-feet of torque. Power is directed to the front wheels through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission that allows either automatic or manual shifting. About the transmission, the Detroit Free Press said, “The dual-clutch transmission performs beautifully. The shifts are fast and smooth, letting the engine rev high for strong acceleration.”

Unlike the A3 gasoline models, a manual transmission and Audi’s Quattro all-wheel drive system are not offered.

2013 Audi A3 TDI

TDI is a direct injection system where fuel is sprayed – as the name suggest – directly into each cylinder, rather than into a pre-combustion chamber. A turbocharger and intercooler are also used. Together, these components result in cleaner emissions and better acceleration, the latter due to diesel’s higher-torque characteristics. This advanced clean diesel technology gets by with particulate filters and traps only, there is no blue-fluid or separate after-treatment system (urea) to “scrub” pollutants out of the exhaust.

This means the Audi diesel will be less expensive to maintain because urea injection systems require refilling every 15,000-30,000 miles. If it’s not replenished, the car won’t start. That could be inconvenient, possibly embarrassing if you were taking a prospective client to lunch. Instead, you can impress that prospect with your greenness by filling the tank with up to B5 biodiesel fuel, a mixture approved by Audi.

Exterior

There’s a confidence at Audi that manifests itself in strong design that emanates from the single-frame grille. Influenced by classic Audi race design, the so-called Nuvolari grille has become part of the family gene pool, just as BMW has its twin kidneys and Mercedes its signature front end.

2013 Audi A3 TDI

Flanked by canted headlamp clusters and prominent lower intake grilles, the grille’s impact is softened by compound curves in the hood. From there, the eyes are drawn along the distinct shoulder line that forms a visual tension with the downward, coupe-like sweep of the roofline. Wraparound taillights emphasize the broad expanse of the rear. They also give the shoulder line a taking-off point for what looks like a small spoiler integrated into the hatch door just below the window line.

Adding the now standard aggressive look of the S line package to the prominent Audi grille and overall sporty styling is enough to put the A3 TDI on top of the list of cars to consider buying.

Interior And Features

Sliding into an Audi is always a delight. These days only Lexus is better in cabin quality, but without the emotional quality Audi puts into its leather, trim pieces and switches. Road and Track noted that the A3’s cabin is “well assembled” and has “all the accouterments one might expect on a larger premium car.”

Optional front sport seats successfully conspire with the engine to encourage bad-mannered maneuvers. They’re tight where they need to be, yet pleasingly comfortable on long hauls. The driver’s seat teams up with the fully adjustable steering column to produce an excellent driving position for people of all sizes.

2013 Audi A3 TDI

Audi has perfected the science of applied ergonomics; all controls are logically placed and have highly legible readouts. There’s a compartment at the bottom of the center stack for a cell phone and the center console has two levels, with a small upper bin as well as a lower door that conceals a 12-volt outlet and MP3 jack. Rear seats are quite comfortable and there’s adequate head- and legroom for the outboard passengers, but the middle position is a tight squeeze for adults.

Car owners outside the U.S. know that hatchback wagons have always made so much sense. Why these common sense cars haven’t caught on here remains a mystery. The purpose of a four-door hatchback, of course, is interior versatility. For starters, folding the split rear seatbacks can increase the 19.5 cubic feet cargo area. Indeed, the rear seats flip down easily, expanding the space to 39 cu. ft. This doesn’t result in a perfectly flat cargo floor, but it isn’t usually an issue. For added cargo, an accessory roof rack is available.

Expected standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels; leather upholstery; power locks, windows and mirrors; cruise control; dual zone climate controls; tilt/telescoping steering wheel; a 10-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system; and XM satellite radio. The Premium Plus package adds xenon headlights, LED running lights, steering wheel shift paddles, power driver’s seat and Bluetooth connectivity. Available are a navigation system and cold weather packages.

Mileage Counts

HybridCars.com staff drove an A3 TDI on a real-world mileage test on a mixed route from Havre De Grace, Maryland to Towson, Md. to Stewartstown, Pa., and back to historic Havre De Grace. The drive was 114 miles long, comprised of interstate driving (about 35 percent), two-lane country routes (about 55 percent), and the rest of the journey was on city streets and a couple of small towns.

To get an accurate fuel economy range, we traveled this route twice. The first time, very passively. Meaning we stayed pretty much under the speed limit – which ranged anywhere from 25 to 65 – drove in the right lane of the highway, accelerated modestly from the standstill position, and even kept the heater off. The result? An impressive 43.7 miles per gallon combined. That puts its mileage numbers quite close to Prius territory.

2013 Audi A3 TDI

On our second run, we shifted to a more spirited driving style. We drove in the fast lane of the highway, accelerated ambitiously on the on-ramps and at traffic lights, and passed slower moving cars when the situation allowed. And this time, the cabin was nicely heated. And though all of these adjustments took their toll on fuel economy, the car still managed a very subcompact-like 31.2 miles per gallon combined. No doubt a hit to efficiency, but in the grand scheme, much better than most cars on the road.

Road Manners

The A3 TDI exhibited excellent handling and ride quality. The suspension is good and firm, allowing quick turns and a highly responsive feel. In typical Audi fashion, ride comfort is also given due attention. But in the end, this is a small, sporty car, so the ride is not going to be its first priority. We’re not saying it’s harsh, but it’s nowhere close to the plush feel of a larger luxury sedan. There was also some road noise, and we could feel the bumps on the pavement.

Motor Trend described the A3 TDI’s driving experience this way: “Slot the gear selector over to manual and grab hold of the paddles mounted to the back of the steering wheel and the diesel can be plenty entertaining. Once you figure out the sweet spot in the rev range – between 2,000 and 3,500 rpm – the little oil burner has the power to pull you through corners with some gusto. While the suspension is taut and responsive, it’s not especially harsh or punishing on rough pavement, allowing you to commute comfortably at 30-plus mpg when you’re done playing.”

2013 Audi A3 TDI

Economics

Overall, the Audi A3 TDI is a clean, performance-driven little car with style and practicality. Furthermore, the A3 TDI’s $30,250 starting price is competitive. However, step up to the Premium Plus edition, select several option choices and the price can get close to $40,000. That’s A4 territory.

If a hatchback with green credentials that promises sporty driving is your criteria, the all-new 2011 Lexus CT200h hybrid starts at $29,120 and bests the A3 with an EPA rating of 43 city/40 highway. And, like the A3, options can push the price to near 40 big ones.

Another option to consider is the Volkswagen Jetta TDI SportWagen. It doesn’t have the luxury cache of the Audi and Lexus, but it starts at $25,540, has the same fuel economy as the A3 TDI and offers a six-speed manual transmission.

The luxury A3 TDI hatchback has been a welcome addition to the American diesel landscape that Automobile Magazine says has “a superb interior, hatchback capabilities, and lively driving dynamics [that] won’t be compromised by the diesel engine; you’ll just go a little farther on each gallon of fuel.”

If that strikes a chord with you, don’t wait too long; it will be awhile before another A3 TDI hatchback graces dealer showrooms.

Prices are manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) at time of publication and do not include destination charges, taxes or licensing.

 


Pros
  • Excellent handling and ride quality
  • Great combo of performance and high mileage
  • Sharp styling
Cons
  • Bumpy and high road noise
  • Classified as wagon but feels like compact
  • Pricey for entry-level luxury car

Price quote for Audi A3 TDI

2013 Audi A3 TDI
Base MSRP: $30,200
Is this the vehicle for you? Want to find out what kind of deals are available? Fill out some basic details and we.ll have a dealer in your area send you a price quote to get the ball rolling.
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  • Anonymous

    This is clearly a 5 door wagon, why are they calling this a 4 door hatchback.

    Anyway, its good that they are bringing this to US.

  • Michael Kirshenbaum

    Will there ever be a decent, small hybrid or diesel all-wheel drive vehicle? Beyond the Ford Escape / Mariner? The A3 is another example of an AWD system not being offered in the most efficient package. I know that the added hardware of AWD would drop the mileage a bit, but still it would be a big improvement, wouldn’t it? Honestly, if Subaru ever dropped a clean diesel or a hybrid into its Forester or Outback, half of the granola owners (present company included) would trade their vehicles in the next day.

    Or am I missing the boat here? Is the added weight of AWD, the poorer aerodynamics of most AWD cars and the added power needs all just too great to make even a moderately efficient AWD hybrid or diesel?

  • Anonymous

    DO YOU THINK I CAN FIT TWO CAR SEATS IN THE BACK?

  • Greg

    Audi could be on to a winner here. As an Acura owner looking for my next car I am very disappointed that Acura does not offer any hybrids or clean diesels. I’d prefer something with AWD, but right now my next car is looking to be either a Lexus CT200H or an A3 TDI.

  • NoHybridForMe

    Save yourself $5 grand. Buy the VW TDI Sportwagon. With today’s economy, you may need that $5 grand!

  • NoHybridForMe

    Save yourself $5 grand. Buy the VW TDI Sportwagon. With today’s economy, you may need that $5 grand!

  • Anonymous

    It’s a misnomer to call any diesel burning engine ‘clean’.

    According to CARB:
    “Diesel engines emit a complex mixture of air pollutants, composed of gaseous and solid material. The visible emissions in diesel exhaust are known as particulate matter or PM. In 1998, California identified diesel exhaust particulate matter (PM) as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to cause cancer, premature death, and other health problems. Diesel engines also contribute to California’s fine particulate matter (PM2.5) air quality problems. Those most vulnerable are children whose lungs are still developing and the elderly who may have other serious health problems. ” (http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/diesel/diesel-health.htm)

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I just purchased the A3 and two car seats will fit in the back seat, it comes with the hooks for them.

  • Anonymous

    A couple of comments….

    1) Having test driven both the A3 and the Lexus CT200h, I would say attributing “sporty driving” to the CT200h is an overstatement. It is a turtle compared to the A3. A very nice looking turtle, though.

    2) The person who posted about California’s diesel research should have also clicked on the link to the “Two Paths to Clean Diesel” article where it describes how these new engines meet the most strict pollution standards out there, which just so happen to be California’s.

  • Doug

    Don’t Laugh… I’ve driven a 1989 Nissan Sentra for 21 yrs (bought it in 90). It finally gave up April 5th, 2011 w/ 385k. Local Nissan dealer could care less. They just wanted me to buy a new one fm them!

    I will buy the 2011 A3 TDI. My wait is 3 months. It is on order. I bought it because: economical, sporty, little luxury, small, and I could put my mtn bike and kayak on top without it looking odd.

    I am hoping to put 500k on the engine.

    This car seems to meet my needs. No car is perfect.

    Thanks,

    DVJ

  • Jeff K.

    Greg,
    I could not agree with you more! As a former owner of 5 Acuras, I wish that they offered a more fuel efficient alternative. My last Acura was the MDX which gave me just south of 20 mpg. I looked at the RDX as an alternative but the mileage was not that different from my MDX. Acura keeps introducing cars seemingly unaware or unconcerned of the rising price of gas. Unfortunately they have just lost a long time customer as I just purchased the Audi A3 TDI and I absolutely love it.
    Jeff

  • Ultra 100 Miler

    Just back from ireland on our us-airways direct in which i got to drive my sisters audi A1 1.6 TDI that is a 105 hp car..

    A very nice ride at 21600 euros in a poor part of europe.
    Great mpg .
    The thing i wonder some times is why is there a us and europe model even a Asian model.

  • Dale B.

    Too bad all of the Audis only come in varying shades of gray.

  • Mike S.

    Yes, two car seats will fit easy.

  • Mike S.

    Clearly you are not up on the latest Clean Diesels, Please do a little reading before you try to be an expert on the subject. What you say is true about the older diesels but the new clean diesels have less of a carbon foot print then the Hybrid with the battery.

  • shweta007

    I read the other comments and just thought that guys its an Audi car not just any other average brand of car so why not drive one.

  • jay

    yes, you are correct. but look at the years. 1998! look at the technology today, and what vw or audi has done. do some research on dpf filters. and just think, looks, drives, handles, and is better for the environment than a prius! if you really want some info- they are testing a h3 against a prius. in the long run, it is possibly better for the environment. remember ask your self or anyone that drives a prius- what are you going to do with the batteries? last time i looked into it, they have now plans in place.

  • oski bare

    absolutely incorrect. excellent color choices inside and out.

  • Sarah Booher

    I love my A3, no reason for me (or anyone for that matter) to get a Toyota Prius. What an ugly car, that. The A3 is a looker, gas miser, sporty driver and more. Price starts at $30k, though it’s more like 35: http://www.automotive.com/2011/99/audi/a3/base-hatchback/324/

  • UX-admin

    “It’s a misnomer to call any diesel burning engine ‘clean’.”

    Actually no, it is not a misnomer. Clean diesel engines employ a diesel particulate filter (DPF), and depending on vehicle manufacturer and design, implementation and weight, some even employ an after-treatment Urea subsystem.

    These ultramodern, clean diesels emit less pollution than the cleanest partial zero emissions vehicle (PZEV).

  • Anonymous

    That’s Great Smart Guy. You really don’t know anything about this.
    Somehow the advancements that have progressively occurred in the European market have slipped right past your eyes and ears, thus you speak of the old Diesel or 80′s technology
    The new to the US clean TDI technology was not introduced here until October 2008. We did not have the new Lower Sulfer based fuels until then.
    If you had any incling of an idea how stupid you sound you would read prior to touching the keyboard or just turn the thing off understanding that all things true in 1980 are not the same today. It’s pitiful to hear someone sspeak so strongly and simultaneously be ignorant. Fill up the head before you open the mouth.

  • Audi a3 in Ireland

    I love Audi a3 cars. I have my Audi a3 in Ireland. It is a dynamic car which is model of beauty. It has beautiful sensibilities in drawing and use of equipment that distinguish modern Audi a3 from other cars. It has specific engine and fuel type which provides great performance of this car. It has four diesel engine and petrol engine. It is simply a mixture of open-road vitality, long-haul sociability, around-town utility and fuel saving.

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  • davehead

    Quoting 1998 is really out-of-date. A lot has happened since then:

    - Diesel was made as clean as gasoline, by lowering its suffer content to 5ppm.
    - Engines have improved. They run cleaner then they once did… Ford even claims their Focus diesel could meet SULEV standards.
    - Diesels are not the only cars the emit particulates. Gasoline cars do too, except much smaller in size so they can enter your lungs & into the bloodstream. California will soon start limiting gasoline particulates too.

  • DannyD

    I’ve owned a US version 2011 A3 TDI (with sport package) for 1.5 years. My overall AVERAGE is 40.3 MPG and I regularly achieve over 51 MPG on highway trips (at 75+ MPH). And… I drive the car like a sports car around town (read… heavy foot). This car SOOOOOO blows away either the Prius or CT200H in both styling, handling, performance, carbon footprint and engine longevity (how long will those batteries last?)!!

    It would be the perfect car if offered with Quattro, but… I just saw Audi announce the 2013 Q5 is adding a TDI as an option (albeit a 3L V6, but I’m still excited). Love diesels!!!!

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  • pauly wally

    subaru has been selling a wonderful boxer-format diesel forester and outback in australia for a couple of years now. Definitely the smoothest diesel ive driven (even more than my jetta tdi sportwagon), and has stil has that great low center of gravity that really helps the handling of these SUVs. WHen running on biodiesel blends of 20% or more, they use less fossil fuels and pollute less than a prius too!
    SUch a great car- would love to own one here in the USA.
    my only guess as to why they are not available here is due to political pressure and propaganda by the oil lobby…

  • paully wally

    a little appreciated aspect of diesels is that the high compression ratios require very high engine tolerances that necessitates much longer break-in periods than gas engines. Most MPG tests are on brand new cars, but optimal mileage usually doesnt peak until around 10,000 miles. Hence, official tests can greatly underestimate the real economy that they offer drivers in real life obtain.