Audi joins the premium hatchback segment with the A3, which it hopes will follow in the tire tracks of the Mini Cooper and not those of the BMW 318ti or the Mercedes-Benz C-class hatch. The A3 is offered in both two-door and four-door form in Europe, but only the four-door will cross the Atlantic. The car arrives on our shores in May, with Audi's new, 2.0-liter gasoline direct-injection four as its lone powerplant. We'll have just made our acquaintance with the 2.0TFSI (as it's known), as it is also the base engine in the new A4, which will disembark in North America two months prior. The engine, which replaces the 1.8T, makes a healthy 197 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque and can be combined with a standard six-speed manual or Audi's DSG "Direct Shift Gearbox" clutchless manual to drive the front wheels. Toward the end of 2005, we'll also get an A3 with a 3.2-liter V-6, mated exclusively with the DSG and Quattro all-wheel drive. Audi hopes 15,000 people a year will throw down $32,000 for the 3.2, or at least $25,000 for the base A3. Those could be high hopes.
Subscribe to the magazine and save up to 84% off the newsstand pricesubscribe