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The test A3 had front sport seats that looked and felt good, and there was ample seat height travel for a range of drivers to get comfortable without heads touching the ceiling. Seat track travel was ample, too, with both a 6-foot-plus person and a petite driver able to find good legroom, though a carload of 6-footers could feel cramped in the back seat. Also, the middle person in back has to contend with a raised section of floor.
Trunk space of 12.3 cubic feet with the 1.8-liter turbo is competitive. The smaller, 10.3 cubic feet of cargo space in A3s with the 2-liter turbo is not. The larger-engine A3 gets a bigger fuel tank that reduces trunk space.
The test A3 quattro model had the more powerful, 2-liter, double overhead cam, turbocharged and fuel injected four cylinder. It generates a strong 258 foot-pounds of torque starting at 1,600 rpm and continuing to 4,400 rpm — enough to push passengers' heads back into the seats.
There was noticeable turbo lag, though, particularly when the driver wanted to accelerate in a hurry but had set the car's "driver select" mode to "comfort." There also are "dynamic," ''individual" and "auto" modes that alter the car's throttle response, shift points and steering effort to a driver's liking.
No matter the mode the tester handled nimbly and confidently, keeping its line on long sweeping curves as if it was glued to the pavement. Steering response was quick but not twitchy or nervous, and the driver always felt connected to the road. The ride was firm but not punishing.
But the tester averaged between 20.1 mpg and 23.2 mpg in city/highway travel. This compares with the federal government's ratings of 24 mpg in city driving and 33 mpg on the highway. Audi recommends pricey premium gasoline, so filling the tester's tank cost more than $58.
More A3s are coming, including a diesel A3 and a cabriolet.