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RADIO FLYER

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Sep 23, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

RADIO FLYER By Kurt Fuhrman

Many car companies have their own version of a station wagon. So what is so different or unique with yet another wagon-like vehicle from another car company? The difference is the car company. Audi makes this one. The Audi A3 is the wagon-like hatchback I have the pleasure of driving. This one is comfortable, smooth, quiet, and although it just has four cylinders, it is the proverbial little-engine-that-could. We decide to take this 'little engine' into the scorching heat and long drive to Las Vegas. The trip is set for three adults along with luggage, CDs, and all kinds of snacks. There is plenty of room for all this mayhem and enough room for the three of us, or we hoped. The alarm echoed 7:00 a.m. and we were on our way to the big city lights of Las Vegas by 8:00 a.m. With three adults, or should I say three juvenile delinquents, on a four-hour road trip in the middle of nowhere, I am not sure how I am going to handle this drive.

After about an hour into our journey, I feel more at ease. The A3 is exceptionally comfortable and is allowing me to relax a little. The leather seats are first-rate. The seats conform to our bodies, providing support for the back and legs (the special leather sport seats are a specialty item under the sport package). Somewhere between 2 to 3 hours into the drive, both my buddies are sound asleep and my seat never weakens. It stays comfortable throughout the drive. Once the two sleeping beauties finally peeked through glazed eyes, both agreed that this little car is very comfortable. "Smooth" does not sufficiently capture the essence of the ride in this Audi. The A3 is handling the freeways like silk. Whoopee! Ah yes, but even the freeway sections under construction are effortless, not a sway, jiggle, or rumble, I can swear we are riding on a sheet of glass. I'm not sure of the exact reason for the A3's smooth balance; perhaps it was the 17" alloy wheels with high performance summer tires, or maybe it was the sport suspension (the sport suspension and 17" alloy wheels are also under the sport package). Then again, the McPherson strut front suspension and the four-link rear suspension could be major contributors. It is of course, a combination of all the above that make the A3 a pleasure on the road. In addition to the great ride, the A3 is very quiet.

This wagon does not have any road wind, nor a tire buzz. In fact, the A3 is a very quiet ride (ask my buddies who slept for almost the entire drive to Las Vegas). Most cars have some road wind that flows in through the windows, but not the Audi A3. This is a nice surprise, a quiet drive, no matter what speed the freeway allowed. However, be careful, while the A3 may be silent to it's outdoor noises, the inside stereo makes all surrounding noise completely disappear. A six-disc changer with the premium Bose sound system makes you feel you are at a concert. My buddies almost slept the entire trip, that is, until I introduced them to the Bose system. A very funny dance called the wake up shuffle renowned by both the sleepy heads (the Bose system and CD changer are part of the Navigation and surround package). The unique silence of the Audi A3 is not the lack of road nose it is that the A3 is just a little 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine. A four-cylinder usually has good fuel economy and the A3 doesn't disappoint. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rating is 23 miles per gallon in the city and 32 on the highway. My freeway average was slightly less, around 30 mpg. The downfall with four-cylinder engines is that they usually do not have much get up and go. The Audi A3 2.0T, however, is the proverbial little-engine-that-could. With Audi's proprietary direct-injection FSI, an inter-cooled turbocharger, and choice between a standard 6-speed manual or optional 6-speed direct shift S-tronic automatic transmission, this little engine performs like some six cylinders should. The A3 gets up and goes with virtually no delay from the turbocharger. What seemed like every 15 minutes, my buddies keep asking me if I am sure this is a four-cylinder and I keep telling them, "yes I am sure". There is a slight delay in the turbo when passing on the freeway and dropping down into fifth gear. Otherwise, this turbocharged wagon is nicely and almost perfectly tuned.

SIDEBAR COMMENT The Audi A3 is probably more accurately described as a hatchback that looks like a shortened wagon. If you want a real wagon, you can opt for the $31,340 A4 Avant. The A3 is more of an upscale four-door GTI, although the exterior and interior designs are all Audi. If you want to go even more upscale, you can opt for the $33,980 3.2 L V6 with quattro all-wheel drive. With the 3.2, you also get such standard niceties as a power driver seat with four-way lumbar support and the 6-speed S-tronic automatic transmission with a lightening-fast sequential manual mode. Still, the base A3 remains the best buy. With the possible exception of the S-tronic option, I'd try to resist the temptation to load up the options. The base car at just a tad over 25 Gs is already a nicely equipped package. - Roy Nakano SUMMARY JUDGMENT Audi builds the ultimate Radio Flyer. For more information about Audi products, go to www.audiusa.com.

SPECIFICATIONS Name of Vehicle: 2007 Audi A3 2.0T Price: $25,340 (base) $34,665 (as tested) Engine Type: 2.0 DOHC Turbocharged, inter-cooled FSI direct injection four cylinder Horsepower: [email protected] 5100-6000 rpm Torque: 207 lb-ft 280 Nrr @ 1800-5000 rpm EPA mileage estimates City/Highway 23/32 Max Turbo Boost: 1.8 bar Drive Configuration: Front engine / front wheel drive (Distribution % front/rear 61/39) Transmission type: 6-speed manual transmission 6-speed S-tronic automatic transmission with manual sequential shift mode (optional) Suspension: Front: McPherson strut with lower wishbone, aluminum sub-frame tubular anti-toll bar, track stabilizing steering roll radius Rear: Four link rear suspension with separate spring/shock absorber arrangement, sub-frame, tubular anti-roll bar Wheels and Tires: 17" alloy wheels with 225/45 all-season tires As tested: high performance summer tires Brakes: (Front) 12.3 in. ventilated disc Brakes: (Rear) 11.3 in. disc Parking Brake: mechanically actuated at the rear wheels Overall Length: 168.7 in. Overall Width: 77.1 in. Overall Height: 56 in. Curb weight: 3329 lbs. Performance: 0-60: 6.7 sec. Quarter-mile: 15.5 sec Top Speed electronically limited to 130 mph

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