Driven: 2010 Audi A3 TDI

Other aspects of the A3 are not influenced by its diesel powertrain. Interior space is not bad considering the trim exterior dimensions, and the hatchback body style makes for a generous cargo hold -- 19.5 cubic feet (which is already more than a sedan of any size), expandable to 39 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. My test car was a fully loaded example, equipped with the titanium sport package , which includes sport seats with leather and Alcantara (suede) upholstery and contrasting stitching. The car also came with the optional navigation system (at an eye-watering $2050), but here the A3 shows its age somewhat, as the user interface and some of the controls are not as good as those found in newer Audis.

The titanium sport package also includes a sport suspension, which is firm but not harsh, despite the large, eighteen-inch wheels (with a dark finish). The A3's steering is decently weighted and very precise, but don't expect a whole lot of feel through the contoured wheel rim.

A3 sales are still a small part of the Audi total, but the fact that this car is in the lineup marks Audi as a forward-thinking luxury-car maker, a position that is reinforced by the addition of the TDI. Looking ahead, it's pretty easy to see that luxury is becoming disengaged from size, and that fuel economy and environmental consciousness is not a virtue only for lower price segments. The A3 TDI puts Audi on the vanguard of these trends, and makes for a pleasant (if pricey) way to drive green.

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