The 2009 A3 can be fitted with Audi's latest road-holding gear, including Quattro all-wheel-drive and magnetic-suspension damping, resulting in rally-handling for this little wagon. Too bad about the cabin tech.
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.
2 of 16 James Martin/CNET
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.
3 of 16 James Martin/CNET
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.
4 of 16 James Martin/CNET
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.
5 of 16 James Martin/CNET
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.
6 of 16 James Martin/CNET
Quattro is an option on the 2-liter A3, as is magnetically controlled suspension. These two features lead to excellent handling.
7 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The small wagon design means plenty of cargo room in back.
8 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The A3's cabin is comfortable and seems well built, with materials equivalent to what you find in a BMW.
9 of 16 James Martin/CNET
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.
10 of 16 James Martin/CNET
As with all Audis, there is a very useful display between speedometer and tach, showing music, navigation, and trip information.
11 of 16 James Martin/CNET
This A3 is equipped with the S-tronic transmission, which uses two computer-controlled clutches.
12 of 16 James Martin/CNET
This infotainment unit has been in circulation in Audis for more than five years now, and is badly in need of an update.
13 of 16 James Martin/CNET
Digital music can be played through these SD card slots behind the LCD. We would prefer a USB port in the console.
14 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The interface for playing MP3s off of SD cards is terrible, just showing file names.
15 of 16 James Martin/CNET
With the navigation system present, the disc changer moves to the glove box--an inconvenient placement.
16 of 16 James Martin/CNET
The highlight of the A3's cabin tech is the Bluetooth phone system. It pairs easily and makes a phone's contact list available.