It's rare to have an Audi without Quattro pass through our garage. As all-wheel drive has become synonymous with the brand, it seems a front-wheel example of any Audi is an oddity. I happened to take this front-wheel-drive A3 TDI home on the night of Michigan's biggest winter storm. With a set of Michelin winter tires on, though, I hardly noticed that I had only two wheels to power through the slippery spots. Aside from the torquey engine occasionally spinning the front wheels, the A3 was composed and stable through thick city slush and at highway speeds.
The Audi A3 is a unique vehicle at a reasonable price, offering a nice alternative to a hybrid or even a gas-powered premium compact. However, it fails to convey the character embodied in the rest of Audi's range. I blame that partly on the A3's relative age and its dated interior. And while it's good to drive, comfortable, and practical, there's little that makes the A3 TDI better than a Volkswagen Jetta SportWagen TDI.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor