MPG-o-Matic 2010 Audi A3 TDI Review Summary:
The clean diesel A3 TDI joins the conventional gasoline-powered A3 in Audi’s 2010 line up, providing a marvelous fuel-efficient alternative for folks that enjoy spirited driving. Although the 2010 A3 TDI is not available in Quattro (all-wheel-drive) trim, we found the front-wheel-drive (FWD) to be sure-footed through a variety of driving conditions.
The 2010 Audi A3 TDI is only offered as a five-door model, in front-wheel-drive with a six-speed S tronic duel clutch automatic transmission. The A3 TDI’s 2.0-liter turbocharged clean diesel inline four-cylinder engine uses common rail direct injection, an intercooler, and four valves per cylinder to produce 140 horsepower (HP) and 236 foot pounds of torque.
The EPA’s fuel economy estimates for the clean diesel FWD Audi A3 TDI are 30 city / 42 highway miles per gallon (MPG).
We traveled roughly eight hundred miles in our Brilliant Black A3 TDI review unit and had no problem slipping past the official mileage estimates as we scored an average of 44.9 MPG on the Interstate highway and 38.3 MPG combined in winter temperatures and mixed conditions.
Overall test period temperatures ranged from the teens through the thirties. Interstate highway testing temperatures were in the mid thirties. The test vehicle was equipped with the Sport package, which includes 18-inch aluminum wheels (base wheel size is 17-inches) and was delivered with just over 4000 miles on the odometer. (The fuel efficiency of diesel engines typically rises after a proper break in period.)
Interstate Mileage Testing:
Cruise control set to 68 MPH, A/C off, heat on, driver seat heated, windows up: 43.8 MPG
Cruise control off, target speed 60-72 MPH, A/C off, heat on, driver seat heated, windows up: 46 MPG
The 2010 Audi A3 TDI requires ultra low sulfur diesel (ULSD), and can tolerate a B5 (5%) biodiesel blend. Stops at the service station should be few and far between, with a 14.63 gallon fuel tank providing generous range. Unlike many larger displacement clean diesel engines, the A3 TDI does not require exhaust after-treatment (urea) fluid.
The turbocharged common rail 2.0-liter inline four and quick shifting dual-clutch automatic transmission deliver spirited performance. While not blindingly fast, the TDI’s torque makes its presence known, as it easily motivates the A3’s 3318 pounds (curb weight).
Don’t let anyone tell you that fuel-efficient cars can’t be fun to drive. Whether cruising the Interstate, tooling through town, or tackling the back roads, the A3 TDI is a pleasure to pilot. Carrying speed through the corners is a hallmark of fuel-efficient driving, and the A3 TDI handles the chore with ease.
The A3 TDI is extremely well-suited to light-footed driving. The Driver Information System includes two average fuel economy displays, along with a real-time MPG gauge. Although the real-time MPG numbers can lag a bit and will vary widely, we always recommend driving with the real-time gauge active, to develop a light-footed driving technique.
The S-Tronic dual-clutch transmission is snappy, whether in drive, sport, or manual mode. The leather-wrapped steering wheel is beefy, with paddle shifters that make for quick gear changes.
The A3 TDI’s s line interior is tastefully designed. Our test unit was fitted with the optional Titanium Sport Package, which includes 18-inch Titanium-optic wheels and high performance tires, along with sport suspension, and leather Alcantara sport front seats.
The Premium Plus package includes Xenon plus headlamps, LED running lights, steering-wheel controls, and a power driver seat with 4-way adjustable lumbar support. Hands-free Bluetooth support is provided with the package, as well … and it’s excellent, with easy pairing and automatic phonebook download.
A Bose premium sound system is included with the optional Convenience package. USB iPod support comes with the optional Navigation system and is quite good, with glovebox storage. Artists, Albums, Playlists and the like are accessible from the MMI interface.
The Cold Weather package provides heated front seats, heated windshield washer nozzles, and heated exterior mirrors. The seat heaters allow for six levels of adjustment.
The A3 TDI is fitted with a trio of power outlets, with two in the center console, and one in the cargo area. The standard dual-zone climate control system includes a dust and pollen filter.
The cabin is comfortable, but snug. Rear seat headroom is tight for taller passengers. The optional dual panel Open Sky sunroof provides a nice wide view for occupants in both rows.
The cargo area offers plenty of flexibility, with a rear seat center pass through that accommodates both skis and snowboards. There’s 19.5 cubic feet of storage with the rear seats up and 39.0 cubic feet with the 60/40 rear seats folded down.
All-in-all, the 2010 Audi A3 TDI offers a positively delightful combination of performance, fuel-efficiency, and style. While we may have qualms over the cost of the option packages, we’d love to have a clean diesel A3 TDI sitting in the garage. Bring on the Quattro!
– by Daniel Gray
February 13th, 2010
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