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http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/reviews/healey/2010-02-18-audi-a3_N.htm?csp=usat.me

kind of a lame review but at least he likes the engine
There are things to gripe about in the 2010 Audi A3 TDI — but the diesel engine and six-speed automatic transmission aren't among them.
Carmakers and buyers who think diesels can't appeal in the U.S. should spend a day with the A3 TDI (Audi's code for diesel).

Car companies that believe they must tune transmissions to shift somewhat unresponsively to get good fuel economy should run the A3 TDI around their test tracks, then try to develop something as good as the six-speed S Tronic — a dual-clutch, automatically shifted manual. Those are growing in popularity because they are more fuel-efficient than most automatics or even conventional manuals.

The only tiny wrinkle might be a moment's hesitation when floored from a standstill. So, gold medal for the drivetrain.

Now, what about those gripes? Noises, mainly. And Audi portrayed most of them as unique to the test car, saying it isn't getting similar complaints from owners or other test drivers.

Nevertheless:

•Horrible grit spit. The wide, sticky summer tires kicked up sand, debris and whatever else was on the roads after a couple of snow-removal applications. The clatter against the wheel wells was striking.
Audi says all-season tires wouldn't spit so much grit. Also would perform much better in snow.
•Dreadful sunroof creaks. "It's a large glass sunroof, and on a cold day I could see how the seals could squeak," says Carter Balkcom, A3's U.S. product manager. Yes, but when you buy a brand such as Audi, you don't expect to make such compromises.
•Haunting rear suspension groans. Happened often after the car had been parked for a while. Balkcom said it was a unique complaint, might have a vague parking-brake connection.
•Intermittent rear clunks. Inside the car, behind the driver, as if something were loose inside the back door. Didn't always happen — and you can bet it wouldn't when you're with the service manager. Nor had Balkcom ever heard of such an odd noise.
•No all-wheel drive. Several reasons. Limiting it to front-drive saved Audi a second round of federal safety and mileage certification for the AWD model. It also keeps the price down and makes the diesel an attractive alternative.
And FWD is about 2 mpg higher on the government fuel-economy ratings vs. AWD, Balkcom says, allowing Audi to advertise a higher mpg number.
And a lot of people don't seem to think AWD is important. In the often-snowy Pacific Northwest, TDI is 75% of total A3 sales, Balkcom says.
•No backup camera. Shows its age. If it were new on the market, it surely would offer one; all your finer rigs have them nowadays.
•Nonsensical control system. That damnable MMI (multimedia interface). Perhaps simpler than in higher-price Audis, but one might have hoped it would be replaced with knobs and switches to keep down the price of the smallest Audi.
Our standard: Every control you regularly use should be directly accessible. You should not have to select a mode on a screen and then punch your way through a menu, however short, just to tune the radio or do other simple tasks.
Nobody's yet bettered the decades-old approach to car radios: volume and tuning knobs, station preset buttons, couple of tone and balance controls.
•Slam-bam ride. Hey, it had the sport equipment; of course it'll feel stiff, Audi says. Still, it was a bit much to see the headlights shake over potholes.
The biggest disappointment, though, was a vague sense that the A3 interior has been bypassed by fresher rivals. Even a mainstream Mazda on hand for test driving seemed to have nicer trim, better overall decor, nicer-feeling panels and controls.
The A3's not cheesy or junky, just no longer sweet inside.
Yet for all its foibles and failings, the diesel and S Tronic gearbox were nearly enough to balance out.
If you can find one with no noises, don't need the latest-greatest interior and perhaps actually like the MMI control system, you are dead meat. You will find it pretty close to impossible to leave the Audi store without buying one.

•What? Diesel-powered version of four-door, small hatchback/wagon. Diesel available only with front-wheel drive, automatic transmission.
•When? On sale since October.
•Where? Made at Ingolstadt, Germany.
•Why? Diesels get better mileage than gasoline cars. Audi thinks that has appeal.
•How? Piggyback onto corporate relative Volkswagen's popular Jetta diesel, which uses similar platform.
•How much? TDI model is a modest $1,200 more than gasoline model, starts at $30,775.
•How many? TDI is 55% of total A3 sales.
•How potent? 2-liter turbocharged direct-injected (TDI) diesel is rated 140 horsepower at 4,200 rpm, 236 pounds-feet of torque at 1,750 rpm (2-liter turbo gas engine is 200 hp, 207 lbs.-ft.). S Tronic six-speed, dual-clutch, automatic with manual-shift mode is only transmission available on TDI.
•How big? Subcompact: 169 inches long, 78.5 in. wide (including mirrors), 56 in. tall on 101.5-in. wheelbase.

Passenger space: 89 cubic feet. Cargo space is 19.5 cu. ft. behind rear seat, 39 cu. ft. when back seat's folded. Turning circle diameter: 35.1 ft.

•How thirsty: Rated 30 miles per gallon in town, 42 on the highway, 34 in combined driving. Trip computer in test car showed 25.5 mpg (3.92 gallons per 100 miles) in mixed city and suburban use that included several days of severe winter weather. Requires ultralow-sulfur diesel; tank holds 14.6 gallons.

•Overall: More drivetrains like this, please.
 

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That is partly why I don't like sunroofs - more possibility of leaks and squeaks. I never use sunroofs so it's not worth the trade offs for me. Some people love the pano roofs.

75% of sales in the NW are TDI? Good job Audi!

No backup camera? If it had one would you complain about the high price?


"Yet for all its foibles and failings, the diesel and S Tronic gearbox were nearly enough to balance out."
 

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A couple of comments:

I kind of laughed at some of his gripes:
Driving with sticky summer tires in the winter after snow cleanup leaves salt, sand, snow, etc. on the road! I wouldn't recommend that.

Doesn't like the MMI control interface: I don't blame him. I would not buy a car with that either. It appears that this A3 was fully loaded with everything.

No backup camera: sheesh, give me a break; look out the back window.

My panorama sunroof has not creaked at all -- and it's been cold since I got the car in December.

I may have insight into the noise behind him that was bothering him. I had a similar noise (a clacking, something-hitting-something-else noise), first behind me and then to my right (near the passenger door). It turns out that the all-weather mats (which my car has) tend to pop up off the fasteners that hold them down (or the car wash guys are pulling them off). When that happens, they hit the fastener when you go over the slightest bump and rattle. Drove me nuts until I figured out what it was.

I do agree 100% with him on the engine and transmission!
 

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Horrible grit spit. Imagine, sticky tires pick up sand. Who would've guessed it?
Dreadful sunroof creaks. Save $1000 and the trouble, don't get a sunroof.
Haunting rear suspension groans. The writer had too many of the free "press corps" doughnuts.
Intermittent rear clunks. May be because the press fleet cars get beat unusually hard. Don't blame Audi for this.
No all-wheel drive. Complains about no AWD, yet orders car with summer tires.
No backup camera. The back bumper is only about 5 feet away. Just look back.
Nonsensical control system. That damnable MMI (multimedia interface). Mine has nice simple knobs that are easy to understand
Slam-bam ride. Imagine this, in a small car sport suspension.

Where did they find this "automotive writer"?
 

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I think the author find the car next to perfection, and was trying real hard to nitpick to find any tiny little flaws to give himself some cred as a critic. I mean, honestly, grit spit?! Is that something to complain about? This is the first time ever I've heard of people complaining about it.

While I'll give the author some ground for AWD since Quattro is what Audi is known for. But for anyone driving in the snow, they'd know that FWD drive just as well through snow as AWD given the right tires and chains.

I also find it funny, that the author wrote "Nobody's yet bettered the decades-old approach to car radios....", yet turn around to complain about Audi's no-non-sense approach to A3's interior in comparison to "nicer trim, better overall decor, nicer-feeling panels and controls" of its competitors.

For whatever reason, the author seem to think that Audi A3 is some sort of SUV, complaining about lack of AWD, more stylish interior and rear view camera. Would the author have the same complaints about the Prius? No AWD and a rather gimmicky cockpit. Of course Prius NEEDS a rear camera because the rear visibility is so poor.
 
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