2015 Audi A3
Entry-level German sports luxury cars are a tricky proposition here. Most Americans still tend to look at the big-3 German cars as premium items, and then they’re disappointed when they sample the more meat and potatoes compacts and subcompacts from the brand. Well that could be why the Audi A3 has never been a huge seller here. Or, it’s more likely that up to this point the A3 has only been available as a 5-door hatchback. Either way, there’s an all-new A3 sedan in town, and it’s arrives with the U.S.A. as its bull’s-eye.
The 2015 Audi A3 marks an important step for Audi. Proof that they are now taking the American and, perhaps more importantly, the world’s upscale small car market more seriously, spurred along by the recent success of the Mercedes-Benz CLA250.
After all, nothing says conventional like a subcompact sedan, but the A3 4-door is far from mainstream. And while making premium attainable is not a simple undertaking, it’s one that must be completed effectively in order for the A3 to be a success here. And it should be doable as Americans have long embraced the A4 sedan.
Let’s get things started in the powertrain department, with a choice of 2 corporate Turbo I4s. A 1.8-liter with 170-horsepower and 200 lb-ft. of torque is found in front wheel drive models; and a 2.0-liter with 220-horsepower and 258 lb-ft. provides motivation to all 4 wheels in quattro models. Both come with a 6-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic; no manual is available.
Our sample sports the 2.0, which performed admirably at our test track. Quattro makes for a grippy, if a little sluggish, launch off the line; but adequately quick, as we hit 60 in 6.0– seconds flat. We very much welcomed the true dual-clutch transmission over a CVT; still shifts weren’t as quick as expected helping us complete the ¼-mile in 14.6–seconds at 96 miles-per-hour.
While Audi’s sporty DNA shines through, this is clearly not an S model as steering is stone dead. Still there’s a solid and stable feel with just enough of an enjoyable, light weight presence that encourages pushing hard; and the A3 behaves itself well.
An all-aluminum sub-frame with MacPherson struts handles suspension duties up front, with a 4-link setup in the rear with a steel cross member. Brakes are the same for either front or all-wheel-drive A3, with our quattro stopping in a good 124–feet from 60.
This all-new sedan body is built on Volkswagen’s fledgling MQB architecture. Just about every exterior dimension is increased over the previous hatchback. Wheelbase is up more than 2-inches to 103.8. Length and width also see meaningful gains.
There’s nothing ground breaking with exterior design elements, however, as all recent Audi trademarks are in place, including the large Singleframe grille and LED daytime running lights. Both A3s ride on nice looking 17-inch 5-spoke alloy wheels.
Inside, is a whole new look for the brand. There’s still a premium feel with leather seating and panoramic sunroof standard; but it’s a clear step down from the lavish landscapes of A6 and A8. The wide and flat, simplistic dash design features large circular air vents giving it a sporting, if retro, feel; until you see the very thin navigation screen rise out of the dash. In front of the driver is a 3-spoke steering wheel and plenty of info on the gauge screens.
All controls are driver oriented, and there’s an updated version of Audi’s MMI central control, which we like even more thanks to the new toggle switches and write on feature. Front seats are roomy and comfortable, and while the stretch in wheelbase does allow for more rear seat room, it’s still barely adequate. Trunk space is more than adequate, however, at 10.0 cubic-ft. Convenience features include available Audi connect with 4G LTE connectivity and navigation. But, you’ll have to add the $1,400 Driver Assist Package if you want a back-up camera.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for our quattro tester are 23-City, 33-Highway, and 27-Combined, and our average of 29.2 miles-per-gallon of Premium was a good one. The Energy Impact Score comes in good also, at 12.2-barrels of annual oil use with 5.4-tons of CO2 emitted.
Base pricing at $30,795 for the 1.8 and $33,795 for the 2.0 quattro seems right on the money. Though throwing in a back-up camera for that price would really make us happy.
The Mercedes-Benz CLA250 has proven that an entry-level German sports luxury sedan can indeed have big success in the U.S. if tailored properly. The 2015 Audi A3, with its premium but attainable feel, clearly delivers just as well. So, if you like your steak well-done, but not overdone, order up!
- Engine: 2.0-liter
- Horsepower: 220
- Torque: 258 lb-ft.
- 0-60 mph: 6.0 seconds
- 1/4 mile: 14.6 seconds @ 96 mph
- EPA: 23 mpg city/ 33 mpg highway
- CO2 Emissions: 5.4 tons/yr
- Energy Impact: 12.2 barrels of oil/yr
2024 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
Bringing Supercar Performance To The Street…American Style
What happens when you let enthusiasts and engineers worry less about tradition and allow them to do what they do best? You get cars like this Chevrolet Corvette Z06. What happens when GM let’s us borrow one for a few days? That’s what we’re about to find out!
While the Z06 package first became an option for the Chevrolet Corvette back in 1963, it wasn’t until the C5 that it describe the ultimate track-focused ‘Vette. And while since then every Z06 has gotten more extreme, if we were plotting things out on a graph, this is where the line of performance progression goes from a steady incline to almost vertical. Yes, the latest C8 Z06 is all that.
It starts with a brand new LT6 5.5-liter DOHC V8 that outputs 670-horsepower and delivers 460 lb-ft. of torque. It sounds great too, the very aggressive nature of its flat-plane crank design has it sounding, and feeling like it’s trying to shake its way out of the engine bay unless you unleash some of its furry.
This dual-cammer featured a dry-sump design from the get-go and is more racing engine than souped-up small block, being developed originally for the C8.R race car.
It made short work of Roebling Road Raceway’s long front straight, able to reach 160 by the end of it. With Hellcats no longer rolling off the assembly line, this is easily our new favorite V8.
But, as you can imagine, Chevy has done much more than just plop a bigger motor into its rear-midship engine bay, which was easier to do since they didn’t have to worry about anyone seeing over it. They’ve addressed just about every part of the car to ensure it puts that power to best use for coming out of corners like few other cars on the street.
That includes upgrades for the short/long arm double wishbone suspension setup that can be further enhanced with an available Z07 Performance Package that adds more aggressive tuning for Magnetic Ride Control, and Michelin Sport Cup 2R tires. Which can be mounted on 20 and 21-inch carbon fiber wheels with carbon ceramic brakes nestled behind.
It all translated into more grip than a semi’s worth of industrial strength Velcro through Roebling’s 9-turns.
With Hellcats no longer rolling off the assembly line, this is easily our new favorite V8.
Like most Corvettes, the Z06 can be as wild or mild of an experience as you care to make it but will most likely be the fastest car to show up at most track days. Yet, the same magnetic dampers that void all body roll on the track, provide an almost plush ride quality for the drive home, though not quite as plush as the standard Corvette.
We’re struggling to find something non-fan boy to say; sure the 8-speed dual-clutch gearbox doesn’t deliver shifts with the brutality of some exotics, but really, they’re just as fast, and the shifts are much smoother.
Believe it or not, almost all the body is unique. So, rather than just tacking on some fender flares, Chevy made the entire car wider to cover the 345 rear tires, yet keep the same uniform look in place.
The optional Carbon Fiber Aero Package adds a front splitter, rocker extensions, front dive planes, and a huge rear wing. We’re not sure if the multi-level nature of that rear wing was done for functional or aesthetic reasons, but it doesn’t block your rearview, and that is much appreciated.
We always talk about torque being more important than horsepower when it comes to acceleration, and the Z06 works with almost 200 fewer lb-ft. of torque than horsepower, but you sure wouldn’t know it when you mash the throttle.
Easy to use programmable launch control allows you to dial in your preferred RPM for launching; we found 4,500 was just about perfect for Roebling’s front straight, allowing for just a tiny bit of slip before rocketing us to 60 on a 40 degree day in just 2.6-seconds.
Power continues to pour on hard as the engine quickly hits its 8,600 RPM redline, and gear changes happen often. The sound inside the cabin in intense, and when the ¼-mile came to an end in 10.7-seconds at 130 miles-per-hour, it felt like it was just getting started.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are a low 12-City, 19-Highway, and 14-Combined.
For the Z06 there are 3 LZ pricing points to land on, starting at $114,395; but you can go with the top-of-the-line Z06, add 50-grand worth of options, and still come out half the price of anything you can compare it to.
Call us home teamers all you want, but America’s only exotic does it yet again, not only is it the best Corvette ever, but it is also easily one of the greatest American cars of all time, arriving at a particularly poignant time culturally as we mourn the potential loss of internal combustion engines altogether. So, come for the spectacular engine and stay for the complete performance package, and experience, that is the Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
- Engine: 5.5-liter V8
- Horsepower: 670
- 0-60 mph: 2.6 seconds
- EPA: 12 City | 19 Highway | 14 Combined
- Transmission: 8-speed dual clutch auto
- Torque: 460 lb-ft.
- 1/4 Mile: 10.7-seconds at 130 mph