Audi evolves the 2015 Audi A3 into a 4G LTE-connected sedan (pictures)

The 2015 Audi A3 evolves from a compact hatchback into to a high-tech sedan with 4G LTE connectivity and Nvidia-powered tech.

Antuan Goodwin
1 of 26 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

2015 Audi A3 2.0T Quattro

The 2015 Audi A3 evolves from a compact hatchback into to an high-tech sedan with 4G LTE connectivity and Nvidia-powered tech.
2 of 26 Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The entry-level Audi

Still the entry-level Audi, the A3 now boasts a host of new features that trickle down from the upper reaches of the automaker's product line.
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It's a sedan

However, the most obvious change for the 2015 model year is the move from a small five-door hatchback configuration to a four-door sedan.
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Where's the wagon?

Audi is convinced that American buyers want sedans, not wagons. However, if you must have a hatch in the back of your new A3, you'll have to wait for the fully-electric e-tron variant.
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S-Line and Sport packages

Our example was close to being as fully loaded as 2015 Audi A3s will come, featuring the Sport package, the S-Line appearance upgrades, and almost all of the available tech. However, this preproduction model was missing the Sport package's upgraded suspension.
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2.0 liters, turbocharged

Two engine options are available. The 2.0T, which features the quattro all-wheel drive system, and the front-wheel-driven 1.8T.
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Power and performance

The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is good for 220 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, which makes its way through a six-speed S Tronic dual-clutch transmission. The smaller 1.8-liter turbo scales back to 170 horsepower and 200 pound-feet of torque and uses the same gearbox.
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Quattro all-wheel drive

This version of the quattro all-wheel drive system lacks Audi's Sport Differential on its rear axle, but still offers plenty of grip and relatively neutral handling. We weren't able to test the FWD model.
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Full LED headlamps

Full LED headlamps are an optional luxury for the 2015 A3.
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Standard projectors

At lower trim levels, you'll still get HID projectors with LED daytime running lights.
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LED tail lights

Out back, the standard taillamps are also a full LED affair no matter which trim level A3 you choose.
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Optional 19-inch wheels

Sport package owners have the option to upgrade to 19-inch wheels (shown here), but our example made do with the standard 18s.
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New MMI infotainment with 4G LTE

Sliding out of the dashboard is a new, ultra-thin 7-inch display for the A3's new MMI infotainment system. The A3 is the first Audi vehicle to offer 4G LTE connectivity in the dashboard, which enables faster access to connected services.
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New MMI controller

The new infotainment system is controlled via a new-generation MMI controller, which features an enlarged control knob and relocated top-level mode selection buttons.
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Touch Pad input

Audi's Touch Pad input, which allows drivers to write destinations and search terms with a fingertip, has been integrated into the top surface of the large MMI control knob.
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Audio sources

Available audio sources include AM/FM/HD Radio, satellite radio, CD/DVD, SD card, Bluetooth for audio and calls, WiFi Audio, and Audi's multimedia connection that allows for iPod connectivity. We were disappointed to see the old 30-pin connector making a return appearance, rather than a simple USB port.
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Bang & Olufsen audio

Audio is played through either a standard 180-watt stereo or an optional 705-watt, 14-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system. It's not as flashy to look at as the system in the RS 7, but this B&O rig sounds fantastic.
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Modular system

The A3's infotainment system's guts are designed to be modular. The brains of the entire system fit into a box that's about the same size as a single-DIN CD player.
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Powered by Nvidia Tegra 2

Individual components, such as the processor, radios, and such, can be individually upgraded by Audi without disturbing the rest of the vehicle's systems. Right now, the 2015 A3 is powered by an Nvidia Tegra 2 system on a chip with 64GB of storage space for maps, data, and more, but in 16 months, a 2016 model could just as easily be powered by a Tegra 4 with minimal retooling.
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Picture destinations

One of the new features introduced on the 2015 A3 is Picture Destinations. This allows the driver to upload any geocoded photograph to the MMI to navigate to where the picture was taken. So your friends could take photo of a restaurant or a landmark with their phone, text it to you, and then you could almost immediately start driving there.
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Audi Connect

The 4G LTE-powered Audi Connect system also gives the driver access to rich data such as fuel prices, weather updates, online destination search via voice command, and more.
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Social network integration

Facebook and Twitter are integrated into Audi Connect. And while I'm not sure that I'd want to browse my feed while parked, having access to Facebook Events addresses is a nice feature.
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Of course, Audi's original party trick of integrating Google Earth satellite and terrain data into the navigation system makes a return appearance here. Performance is smoother thanks to the fast LTE connection and the Nvidia processor.
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Drive select

Sport packaged models also feature Audi's Drive Select vehicle customization software. In this case, you can only really adjust the characteristics of the steering and the transmission between Dynamic, Comfort, and Auto. We were able to noticed a marked difference between the two extremes of Dynamic and Comfort while driving.
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Safety tech

A rear camera is standard, as are blind-spot monitoring (Audi side assist) and forward-collision warning at this trim level. An optional $1,400 Advanced Technology package would add active lane keeping assist, forward-collision intervention, and full-range adaptive cruise control to the safety tech mix.
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The 2015 Audi A3 should be hitting dealerships any week now with a starting MSRP of $29,900. As equipped, our A3 2.0T Prestige with Sport Package would run you somewhere around $42,800.

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