The A3 sits at the bottom of Audi's model line-up, a small, practically configured wagon. For 2009, Audi makes better running gear available.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
1
of 16

The A3 matches other cars in the model line-up with its big grille. Many conveniences are available as options, such as rain-sensing wipers.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
2
of 16

These LED daytime running lights are a nice touch on the A3, and a great new styling cue for Audi cars in general. However, they are optional on the A3, which means more stripped down examples of this model won't be flying the Audi flag quite so high.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
3
of 16

This A3 uses Audi's excellent 2-liter four-cylinder turbocharged and direct-injected engine. This little power plant delivers good acceleration while turning in decent fuel economy.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
4
of 16

The S-Line package is an option that brings in 17-inch wheels, along with S badges around the car. The package also includes a power-adjustable driver seat and Bluetooth preparation.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
5
of 16

Quattro is an option on the 2-liter A3, as is magnetically controlled suspension. These two features lead to excellent handling.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
6
of 16

The small wagon design means plenty of cargo room in back.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
7
of 16

The A3's cabin is comfortable and seems well built, with materials equivalent to what you find in a BMW.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
8
of 16

The multifunction steering wheel, with buttons for audio control on the spokes, is an option. Paddles for the transmission are attached to the wheel, as well.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
9
of 16

As with all Audis, there is a very useful display between speedometer and tach, showing music, navigation, and trip information.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
10
of 16

This A3 is equipped with the S-tronic transmission, which uses two computer-controlled clutches.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
11
of 16

This infotainment unit has been in circulation in Audis for more than five years now, and is badly in need of an update.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
12
of 16

Digital music can be played through these SD card slots behind the LCD. We would prefer a USB port in the console.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
13
of 16

The interface for playing MP3s off of SD cards is terrible, just showing file names.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
14
of 16

With the navigation system present, the disc changer moves to the glove box--an inconvenient placement.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
15
of 16

The highlight of the A3's cabin tech is the Bluetooth phone system. It pairs easily and makes a phone's contact list available.

Updated:Caption:Photo:James Martin/CNET
16
of 16
Up Next

Six generations of the Ford Mustang (pictures)