Audi offers its entry-level A3 sedan with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive. If you wanted FWD, you used to have to make do with a smaller motor. That changes with the 2017 model year.
The automaker ditched its old 1.8-liter A3 motor in favor of a 2.0-liter unit. Horsepower is up from 170 hp to 186, and torque rises from 200 pound-feet to 221. Throw in a new seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which replaces the old six-speed, and your FWD A3 now reaches 60 mph in 6.6 seconds instead of 7.2.
Even better, this new 2.0-liter I4 is more efficient than the 1.8-liter unit despite the addition of power. The EPA estimates the FWD A3's fuel economy at 26 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway, improvements of 3 and 2 mpg, respectively.
That's an improvement, yes, but it's still less powerful than the all-wheel drive variant, which puts out 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. That model continues on with the six-speed dual-clutch transmission, although it will eventually be replaced with the seven-speed unit, as well.
The new engine builds on the 2017 A3's mid-cycle refresh. Both front and rear fasciae have been updated, including a new set of headlights and a wider grille. The new model year also brings Virtual Cockpit into the equation, which replaces the traditional gauge cluster with one big configurable screen.
The front-wheel-drive 2017 Audi A3 goes on sale this fall. Pricing starts at $31,200 for the sedan, and $37,600 for the Cabriolet. A top-trim A3 Prestige FWD sedan will set you back $40,150, or $46,550 for the drop-top.