Let's get the bad news out of the way first: The Audi A3 3.2 S line Quattro is expensive-really expensive-and it suffers from a slightly harsh ride. OK, now let's talk about the good news, because there's plenty.
The A3's steering and suspension damping put larger Audis to shame. This isn't much of a surprise, however, since the A3 shares its basic architecture with the brilliant new Volkswagen GTI. Like its cousin, the A3 is a hatchback, so it is deceptively roomy inside. The 247-hp, 3.2-liter V-6 engine has plenty of power, and the standard six-speed DSG gearbox is the best of its kind, despite a jerky clutch engagement at takeoff and a slightly isolated feel compared with a conventional manual. Still, everything comes back to price. With the A3 3.2 starting at nearly $35,000, the $25,460 A3 2.0T represents a better value, as will the four-door VW GTI when it arrives in July.