Premium compact car; Built in Germany
  • 4-door hatchback
  • transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive
Good condition price range: $5,200 – $25,200*

2006-13 Audi A3
2006 Audi A3

2006-13 Audi A3

2006 Audi A3

2006 Audi A3

2006-13 Audi A3

2006 Audi A3

2006 Audi A3

2006-13 Audi A3

Audi A3

2006 Audi A3

Pros:
  • Acceleration
  • Control layout
  • Fuel economy (turbodiesel)
  • Interior materials
  • Quietness (except 3.2 w/ 18-inch tires)
  • Steering/handling
Cons:
  • Rear-seat comfort
  • Ride (2.0 T Sport and 3.2)

Traditionally, upscale hatchbacks have not appealed to American tastes, so it’s been interesting to see how buyers have taken to this European-style premium-compact. Basically, sales have been uninspiring. The 2.0 T’s turbo-engine power delivery is nonlinear, and the sequential manual transmission’s quirks shade an otherwise eager personality. In every form, though, the tastefully designed A3 delivers enough features and driving enjoyment, with versatile space in a sensibly-sized package, to earn a Recommended rating. Despite powertrain drawbacks, the 2.0 T delivers the best dollar value. With AWD and gutsy V6, 3.2 is more rewarding but rather pricey. Secondhand A3s are likely to sell for a little less than other Audi models, as a percentage of their price when new.

Overview

Audi’s new premium compact four-door hatchback debuted as an early 2006 model, with front-wheel drive and a four-cylinder turbocharged engine. A V6 model with all-wheel drive joined later.

Slightly smaller and less expensive than Audi’s A4 compact sedan, the A3 shared some underskin design with the Jetta and Golf from Volkswagen, Audi’s parent company. Competitors included the Acura TSX, Saab 9-3, and Volvo V50 wagon.

The front-drive 2.0 T held a 200-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder engine, while the 3.2 S line quattro had a 250-hp V6 and Audi’s AWD system. A six-speed manual transmission was standard on the 2.0 T. Optional on the 2.0 T and mandatory for the 3.2 quattro was Audi’s Direct Shift Gearbox (DSG), which was a sequential manual transmission (SMT)–essentially a manual gearbox without a clutch pedal. Gear changes were controlled via a floor lever or steering-wheel paddles, or the DSG could be set to shift like an automatic transmission.

Antilock four-wheel disc brakes, traction/antiskid control, and 17-inch wheels were standard. Also standard were front torso side airbags and head-protecting curtain side airbags. Rear torso side airbags were optional. All A3 models had split folding rear seatbacks.

Leather upholstery, sport front seats, alloy cabin accents, and a sport-tuned suspension were standard on the 3.2 and optional on the 2.0 T. Both models could have a navigation system, satellite radio, and Audi’s Open Sky System, essentially a full glass roof incorporating a power sliding glass sunroof over the front seats.

Yearly Updates

2007 A3
A wireless cell phone link became available for the 2007 A3. Also, an optional 2.0 T S line package now provided 3.2-type styling cues.
2008 A3
The 2008 Audi A3 got no major changes.
2009 A3
The 2009 Audi A3 received freshened exterior and interior styling. Audi’s quattro all-wheel drive system, standard with the V6, was newly optional on the 4-cylinder 2.0 T.
2010 A3
The 2010 Audi A3 lineup lost its available 3.2-liter V6 but gained a TDI model with a 140-hp 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine.
2011 A3
The 2011 Audi A3 was largely unchanged.
2012 A3
There were no changes of note to the Audi A3 for 2012.
2013 A3
The Audi A3 was unchanged pending the arrival of a redesigned A3 as a 2015 model.

Engines

transverse front-engine/front- or all-wheel drive

Only a six-speed automated manual transmission, which behaves much like a conventional automatic, was available with the A3 3.2, which held a 250-horsepower V6 engine and came with quattro all-wheel drive. The front-wheel-drive A3 2.0 T, equipped with a turbocharged 200-hp four-cylinder engine, could have either a six-speed manual gearbox or the automated manual; that model gained available quattro AWD for 2009. The 2010 Audi A3 lineup lost its available 3.2-liter V6 but gained a TDI model with a 140-hp 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine.

Turbodiesel dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 140
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 236
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic 30/42 36.2
Turbocharged dohc I4
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 2.0/121
Engine HP 200
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 207
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed manual
6-speed automatic
23/32
25/31
26.3
dohc V6
Engine Size (liters/cubic inches) 3.2/191
Engine HP 250
Engine Torque (lb-ft) 236
Avail. Trans. EPA MPG (city/hwy) MPG avg. as tested
6-speed automatic 21/27 19.2

Road Test

Acceleration with the A3 2.0 T ranks good for its class. Audi’s claim of 6.7 seconds for 0-60 acceleration with the SMT and 6.9 with manual transmission,have rung true in test drives. A test 3.2 with SMT reached 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. On the down side, the four-cylinder suffers turbo lag in low-speed power delivery, then supplies it with a pronounced rush. The 2.0-liter turbodiesel introduced for 2010 does the same. The 3.2 S line also is slightly tepid on takeoff, but strong and linear as speed rises. SMT shifts are rewardingly smooth, and also prompt in manual mode, but sometimes lackadaisical when in automatic mode. Some SMTs have revealed low-speed driveline jerkiness.

An SMT-equipped 2.0 T averaged 26.3 mpg in long-term testing, while other 2.0 Ts managed 23.3 to 25.4 mpg. That compares to 19.0 -19.4 mpg for 3.2 S line models. Audi recommends premium-grade fuel for both engines. An A3 TDI (turbodiesel) with automatic averaged 36.2 mpg.

With the base suspension, the ride is firm but reasonably absorbent. A 2.0 T with the Sport Package or a 3.2 S line is stiffer–enough to thump over sharp bumps and washboard surfaces, though not really jarring. Ride quality suffers most with the available low-profile 18-inch tires. All models are stable at highway speed, even over dips and swells. A3 tails may react abruptly to highway pavement joints.

Generally agile with the base suspension, the 2.0 T and TDI suffer some noseplow in tight, fast turns, but no undue body lean in corners. Rapid takeoffs can induce minor torque-steer pull to one side. Sport-package models and the 3.2 S line have sharper responses with little noseplow. Steering is accurate and linear, though some testers would prefer firmer steering feel. The available all-wheel drive is a boon to traction in all road conditions. Brakes are strong and easily modulated.

A3s are essentially quiet. Expect some coarse-surface tire thrum, which is more pronounced with 18-inch tires. But wind rush is low at highway speeds. Engine noise is modest even at high rpm. The turbodiesel emits a subtle clatter at idle, but is otherwise quite refined.

Like more costly Audis, the A3 impresses with its clear gauges and handy switchgear. On the other hand, complicated dual-zone climate-system controls require familiarization. A single console knob governs most navigation-system functions, which take time to master and inconveniently include several audio adjustments. Understated cabins are handsomely assembled using tasteful, high-quality materials.

Adult-size head and legroom are the rule up front, on all-day comfortable seats. Sport seats in the S line have slightly larger side bolsters for excellent support in turns. Oddly, even the power seats include some manual adjustments. The hatchback’s rear roofline slightly impedes driver vision aft and to the right rear.

Six-footers get decent back-seat headroom, plus adequate leg space as long as front seats are no more than halfway back. Though nicely padded, the rear cushion is not long enough for good thigh support. Doors open wide, but entryways are not so large.

Cargo space is more limited than that of a small station wagon, but it’s far more versatile than a compact sedan’s. The hatch door lacks separate-opening glass, but lifts high enough for access to a usefully roomy, flat-floor cargo bay. Rear seatbacks fold easily to extend the load area, but don’t fold completely flat. Cabins promise good small-item storage.

Ratings

Model Tested: 2006 A3

Ratings values are on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best. With the exception of Value, these numbers reflect how the vehicle compares against the universe of vehicles, not just against rivals in its class.

Performance

Acceleration - 6
60%
Fuel Economy - 6
60%
Ride Quality - 5
50%
Steering/Handling - 7
70%
Quietness - 6
60%

Accommodations

Controls/Materials - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Front - 7
70%
Room/Comfort Rear - 4
40%
Cargo Room - 6
60%

Other

Value - 7
70%

Total: 61

Specifications

4-door hatchback
Wheelbase (in.) Length (in.) Width (in.) Height (in.) Weight (lbs)
101.5 168.7 77.1 56.0
Cargo Volume (cu/ft) Payload Capacity (cu/ft) Fuel Capacity (gal.) Seating Capacity
55.6 14.5 5
Headroom Legroom
Front Rear Front Rear
38.1 36.9 41.2 34.8
Safety Ratings

Model Tested: 2006 A3 4-door hatchback

NHTSA

(5 is the highest rating)

Front Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Front Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

Side Impact Test

Driver Injury - N/A
N/A0%
Rear Passenger Injury - N/A
N/A0%

HLDI

(A score of 100 is average. Lower is better)

Collision N/A
Injury N/A
Theft N/A

Trouble Spots

Air conditioner
Description: The A/C may not cool if the car has a Sanden (brand) compressor. (2006)
Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioning may work intermittently or quit entirely due to a leaking high-pressure sensor. (2007-08)
Air conditioner
Description: The air conditioning may work intermittently or quit entirely due to a leaking high-pressure sensor. (2007-08)
Cold-starting problems
Description: Engine may run rough after a cold start. (2006)
Engine misfire
Description: After sitting overnight, the 2.0L or 3.2L engine may run rough, misfire and trigger the check engine light because the hydraulic valve lash adjusters drain down and all must be replaced. (2005-06)
Engine misfire
Description: Excessive moisture in intake pipe may cause rough running or failure to start. (2011-12)
Fuel pump
Description: The fuel line raps on the floor under the car making a tapping noise unless insulators are installed. (2006)
Fuel pump
Description: Metallic particles in the fuel pump may cause rough running or failure to start. (2013)
Steering problems
Description: Incorrect software can cause stiff steering. (2009-13)
Water pump
Description: A leak may develop in the water pump. (2010-13)
Windows
Description: The master power window switch may work intermittently due to interference with the trim. (2005-07)
Windows
Description: The master power window switch may work intermittently due to interference with the trim. (2005-07)
None
Description: The lighting for switches may stay on due to a short in a courtesy light. (2006)
Check-engine light
Description: After sitting overnight, the 2.0L or 3.2L engine may run rough, misfire and trigger the check engine light because the hydraulic valve lash adjusters drain down and all must be replaced. (2005-06)

Recall History

2006-10
Description: The closing force of an internal spring of the fuel tank ventilation valve is not adequate enough to hold the valve closed under extreme driving conditions possibly allowing fuel to leak, resulting in a vehicle fire. Volkswagen will notify owners and Audi dealers will replace the fuel tank ventilation valve with an improved valve free of charge.
2010-12 2.0TDI
Description: The fuel line could crack leading to leaks and possible fire.

Equipment Lists

Equipment lists are only viewable on larger screen sizes.

Pricing

Used-car pricing varies widely depending on local market conditions. Therefore, we recommend visiting websites that list used cars for sale to get a better idea of what a specific model is selling for in your area.