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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.