Audi has made it a point to label its all-new 2015 A3 sedan as “uncompromised”. If you read or listen closely to Audi’s ads promoting the A3, you’ll see/hear such phrases as “uncompromised car“, “uncompromised spirit”, and “uncompromised engineering”. While some might say that those can be flexible in meaning and interpretation, we find it rather interesting that the new A3 makes quite a few compromises at its core.
- Its base drivetrain is front-wheel drive: and when it comes to luxury vehicles, everyone knows that the name of the game is rear-wheel drive. One could also look at it this way: the new A3 is a Volkswagen Golf/Jetta in Audi clothing. Most are already familiar with the practices of platform sharing and badge engineering, which lie on opposite ends of the “vehicle sharing” spectrum. But it’s important to point out that the Audi lineup, with the exception of the TT, Q7, and A8, doesn’t share a vehicle architecture with any Volkswagen product. And in this way, one could argue that the A3 is a “fancy VW”. It’s one hella-fancy, well-done, and otherwise perfectly-executed VW. Even so, “quattro” AWD (see #3 below) is optional for those who want more than FWD.
- Its engine is transversely-mounted: this goes hand-in-hand with the new A3 being front-wheel drive, and lends itself to the general concept that a vehicle sending power to the front wheels with a transversely-mounted (as opposed to a longitudinally-mounted) motor is nose-heavy, and thus doesn’t offer the ideal level of balance expected of a luxury vehicle.
- Its quattro system isn’t “true” quattro: forget about the fact that the “base” A3 is a front-wheel drive vehicle; those A3 models equipped with quattro all-wheel drive aren’t “true quattro”. The AWD system used on the 2015 A3 is an on-demand system from third-party automotive supplier Haldex Traction, and is simply referred to as “quatro” by Audi for the sake of branding simplicity/commonality. The net result to the buyer is that the A3’s AWD setup is not at all like the “true” full-time quattro systems found in the A4 and above.
- It won’t offer a hatchback with gasoline engines: Audi will launch the new A3 family starting with the A3 Sedan in the United States. That model will be joined by the A3 TDI Sedan, S3 Sedan, A3 Convertible, and the A3 five-door hatchback called Sportback. Unfortunately, Audi seems to be set on selling the Sportback only in plug-in electric (A3 Sportback e-tron) and TDI diesel models. In other words, a gasoline-powered A3 hatch isn’t in the cards for the U.S. of A… at least not at the time of this writing. And we all know that American buyers will opt for gasoline engines significantly more frequently compared to diesel or PHEV variants of the same model, which will be sold to a select few, and at a premium. So much for giving the (American) market what it wants (gasoline).
- It’s doesn’t follow Audi’s naming scheme: based on Audi’s naming methodology, the entire A3 family (except for the Convertible models), should technically be called A2. Meanwhile, the convertible (and potential coupe) variants should carry the A3 designation, while the crossover should be called Q3. Given that the A3 is an all-new model representing a major launch, Audi had the chance to reset the naming inconsistency. But it didn’t.
So, depending on how you look at it, the new A3 is not really “uncompromised”. None of that is to say that the vehicle is in any way worse than what it actually is. Heck, the A3 has more technology packed into it than many flagship luxury vehicles do today, while looking, driving, and feeling like an absolute charm of a car. Plus, the all-new 2015 Audi A3 Sedan seems to be taking buyers by storm: in its first full month on sale in the United States, Audi’s new entry-level sedan was responsible for an impressive 2,159 sales. But perhaps Audi could promote the new A3 as something else than “uncompromised”. That would be much more in line with the car’s root and general nature.