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2010 Audi A3 TDI Review

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!

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11 comments ↓

#1 Michael on 02.22.10 at 8:54 pm

The 2010 Golf 2.0 TDI is a bargain when compared to the now old Audi A3 (due for a redesign soon)… The Golf has the all new interior and superior electronics which include Dynaudio.

Are you going to be reviewing any Golf TDI’s soon? Thanks for the nice website :)

#2 mpg-o-editor on 02.23.10 at 9:16 am

@Michael – Yep! Working on a Golf TDI review right now … stay tuned! =)

#3 Lukas on 02.26.10 at 8:16 pm

Thanks for the review. I’m wondering whether you can comment a bit about the ride quality of the A3 TDI — seeing as your test model has the optional sport suspension.

Many regard Audi’s standard suspension tuning as sporty firm, I’m curious whether the sport suspension significantly impacts the ride quality.

#4 dieseldecider on 03.17.10 at 12:00 am

Thanks for all the top notch quality reviews on this site. How did you like the A3 TDI in comparison to the 335d you previously tested? Does the 335d experience justify taking the leap in price?

#5 mpg-o-editor on 03.17.10 at 7:47 am

@Dieseldecider – Many thanks for the kind words!

There’s a good bit of difference between the engines in the Audi A3 TDI and BMW 335d. While the A3 TDI’s 2.0L inline four is wonderful, the 335d’s twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six is positively remarkable … it’s tough to argue with 425 foot pounds of torque (unless your checkbook is talking).

We found the fuel efficiency to be relatively similar between the two, but the 335d’s performance puts it into another class.

So the big question is … does the added oomph justify the added cost?

That’s something that every potential owner has to answer for themselves. The only way to do that is to test drive both cars and to consult the checkbook. :)

If money were no object …

#6 r.f on 09.13.10 at 12:49 am

Why just b-5 fuel? Can you use b- 20 50 or 100?

#7 Mike O on 10.08.10 at 3:00 pm

@r.f – I think it’s because the US doesn’t have any firm biodiesel standards.

#8 Mike O on 10.08.10 at 3:06 pm

I recently test drove the A3 TDI and 335d. They are two different classes of car. A loaded TDI is $40k while a base 335d starts around $43k.

I would describe the A3 and a family car with a hint of sportiness. The 335d is a sports sedan and with nearly double the power, it’s a lot more fun to drive.

I love the A3 for the utility factor but the 335d is way more fun… I still can’t decide which one I want!

#9 Mike O on 10.22.10 at 8:49 pm

I just bought the A3 TDI today. Dan — It’s all your fault! :)
Actually, I was already interested in the car, but your review and a couple test drives sealed the deal. Thanks!

#10 Sam on 02.20.11 at 8:38 pm

Dan, Great Review!!Again!

#11 loupgarous on 02.21.14 at 10:54 am

@r.f and Mike O: limiting the fuel to ULSD and B5 probably makes it easier to program the software for the onboard electronics that control fuel metering. Also, it’s possible that biodiesel is less energetic per unit volume than good old fashioned out-of-the-ground diesel, so that engine wear could be worsened by trying to run on fifty percent jojoba juice.

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