What’s black and green and drove all over (New Jersey)?
Answer: the jet black, diesel-powered Audi A3 that showed up in the Maxim Garage one weekend last month.
Sure, there are sexier Audis we could’ve checked out. Like almost all of them. Exterior styling-wise, there’s something a little, well, dorky about the A3, especially compared to its far swoopier Audi siblings—even with its signature “devil eye” running lights turned on. But equipped with a clean diesel powerplant, the entry-level Audi proved to be a torquey terror out on the twisty roads of the Delaware River Valley, stiff and planted in the turns.
Coming off stoplights, it’s addictive to drop the hammer and chirp the tires. Every. Time. Power comes instantly, though there’s a mild turbo lag before you feel the full effect of the engine’s kicky 236 ft.-lbs of torque. With its understated Audi interior, you could think of this as a hot hatch for grownups—with a grownup price. Our tester was loaded with extras and topped out at a rich $37K. But the A3 TDI’s best feature is realized at the end of the day, when you note that the fuel needle’s barely moved, even though you’ve driven 100+ miles with a lead foot. We got 40 MPG without even trying. And had a blast doing it. Try that in a Prius.
Price: from $29,950
Engine: 2.0L TDI clean diesel
Torque: 236 lb.-ft @ 1,750-2,500rpm
0-60: 8.7 sec