2015 Audi A3

2015 Audi A3

Episode 3341
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

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!

Specifications

  • 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 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front

2024 Subaru Solterra

The Solterra Gets Subaru Into The EV Game

Episode 4339
Auto Value and Bumper to BumperTire Rack "The Way Tire Buying Should Be"

You could say that Subaru is one of the more conservative brands out there. So, it’s no surprise it took them a little longer than most to venture into pure EV territory. But now that they’ve staked a claim with this Solterra, it’s time for us to see if Subaru buyers should plug in.

The Subaru Solterra is indeed the brand’s first full battery-electric vehicle; and while it took partnering with Toyota to make it happen, as we’ve seen with the BRZ and GR86 sport coupes, that partnership can lead to some great things.

So, we’ll start there; the Solterra’s counterpart is the Toyota bZ4X, and they do share most powertrain elements, specs, and features; but Subaru has done a few things to establish some unique vibes for their brand. That starts with the drivetrain, as all-wheel drive is standard here as in most Subarus, and in similar tradition, power won’t overwhelm you, it’s more safe and familiar feeling than overpowering as some EVs can be. Called StarDrive, this Subaru’s dual-motor setup rates 215 horsepower and 249 lb-ft of torque. Subaru loves to tout that their drivers are second only to Jeep owners when it comes to venturing off pavement, so capability is a must.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front
2024 Subaru Solterra Headlight
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem
2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel
2024 Subaru Solterra Profile
2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Detail
2024 Subaru Solterra Badge
2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port
2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Front2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Front2024 Subaru Solterra Headlight2024 Subaru Solterra Front Emblem2024 Subaru Solterra Wheel2024 Subaru Solterra Profile2024 Subaru Solterra Dead Rear2024 Subaru Solterra 3/4 Rear2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Detail2024 Subaru Solterra Badge2024 Subaru Solterra Charge Port

We did find Solterra as competent as every other Subaru. Their X-Mode has been programmed to work seamlessly with the electric motors, and its 8.3 inches of ground clearance is higher than the bZ4X; plus, you can use Grip Control to moderate speeds and maximize traction.

While most new EVs seem to be hovering around 300 miles of range, max here in the Solterra from its 72.8-kWh battery pack is 227 miles, 222 here in Touring trim. Our results were much less than that, on pace for just 172 miles in our driving loop. But that may be a fluke since we managed 210+ in our bZ4X test.

Only 100-kW max for DC fast charging. But even though it has only been on the market for a year, they’ve already cut down charging times for ‘24 models. An upgraded battery conditioning system, needs 35 minutes for an 80% charge. Subaru always seems to come out on the right side of being cool while remaining authentic, and the Solterra’s styling works, as does its beefier roof rack for ’24 which now holds up to 700 lbs. for tents and the like. Touring trim comes with some great looking 20-inch alloy wheels and there’s lots of body protection, but they did go a little overboard with all of the EV badges everywhere.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected.

In addition to being a good-looking small SUV, it’s a highly functional one too with plenty of room for 5, durable materials, and a bridge-type center console with lots of storage space underneath, though there is no traditional glove box. Subaru also claims it was designed to be dog-friendly, so that’s a plus too. It does have the roomy feel of an Outback, and rear cargo capacity is pretty close, too, at 29.0 cubic-feet.

We found ride quality to be quite good, and handling spunkier than expected. It really shined in the handling course at our Mason-Dixon test track; the EV low center of gravity giving it a very planted feel through the cones. There was minimal body roll and great all-wheel-drive grip; though when it came to us getting a grip on the steering wheel. Well, it’s an oddly shaped steering wheel that took some getting used to. It’s another thing that separates it from the bZ4X, though it seems a little bit like just being different for the sake of being different.

2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard
2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster
2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display
2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter
2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat
2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk
2024 Subaru Solterra Dashboard2024 Subaru Solterra Instrument Cluster2024 Subaru Solterra Central Display2024 Subaru Solterra Shifter2024 Subaru Solterra Front Seat2024 Subaru Solterra Rear Seat2024 Subaru Solterra Trunk

On the other hand, while not insanely fast like some EVs, there was good punch off the line; enough to get us to 60 in 6.2 seconds. And rather than rolling back the power, the Solterra kept it consistent the whole way down the track. We finished the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds at 93 mph. There wasn’t much feel coming through the brake pedal, but panic braking stops were fade-free with an average amount of nose dive; our stops from 60 averaged 120 feet.

Using 33-kWh of electricity per 100-miles, the Solterra earns a good efficiency rating. Pricing starts at $46,340 for the base Premium, and tops out with Touring at $53,340, with Limited in between.

Being the rugged and lovable outdoor types, Subaru owners have proven to be willing to sacrifice certain things for the good of the environment they spend so much time enjoying. Whether that will translate to them going all-in on the 2024 Solterra remains to be seen. It’s no surprise Subaru has finally gone all-electric, and it shouldn’t come as a surprise they’ve entered the EV game conservatively. Something tells us Subaru owners wouldn’t have it any other way.

Specifications

As Tested

  • Motor Setup: Dual Motor
  • Battery Size: 72.8-kWh
  • Horsepower: 215
  • Torque: 249 lb-ft
  • EPA Range: 222 miles
  • 0-60 mph: 6.2 seconds
  • 1/4 Mile: 14.8 seconds at 93 mph
  • 60-0 Braking: 120 feet (avg)
  • MW Test Loop: 172 miles