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2011 Audi A3 TDI S-Line Premium Plus Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Audi, Automotive, Diesel, Featured, Test Drives


In 2011, the remarkably fuel efficient 2.0 TDI continues to cement the class-leading position of the Audi A3.  The turbocharged/intercooled, multi-port 2.0 TDI clean diesel inline 4-cylinder engine delivers the power and drivability that luxury car owners demand while offering unprecedented fuel economy and low emissions.  The 2011 A3 maintains its sporty DNA with S-line exterior upgrades standard.

The Audi A3 created an entirely new premium compact car segment when the first-generation model debuted globally in 1996, and the car has enjoyed tremendous success since it arrived on our shores in 2005.  The combination of quality, craftsmanship and efficiency has made the Audi A3 a leader in its segment.

The 2011 Audi A3 TDI retains the same attractive style elements first introduced in 2009.  The leaning hood and fenders are expressively styled, and the bumper keeps its large, easily identifiable Singleframe radiator grille.  Down below are foglamps with a beautifully formed splitter in the middle to enhance front downforce at highway speeds.

Audi DNA is apparent from front to rear, thanks to its steeply raked windscreen and forward-leaning roofline.

Premium Plus models come equipped with Audi xenon plus headlights with LED daytime running lights and also feature a new wheel design.  The profile of the 2011 Audi A3 presents an athletic, capable posture.  Short overhangs in the front and rear lend to the ready-for-anything stance, lower side extensions and the Audi dynamic bodyline instantly associates the vehicle with its sporty cousins.  From the rear, the A3 displays handsome family traits.

Chrome accents on the door handles differentiate 2011 models from their predecessors, while brilliant LED tail lamps dominate the rear quarter panels.  A large rear hatch makes loading and unloading easy, and the rear bumper of the A3 TDI boasts a single, three-inch round, polished stainless steel exhaust tip cut into the side of the lower diffuser.  Up top is a spoiler that enhances rear downforce at highways speeds.  The new 2011 Audi A3 TDI S-Line is a smaller version of the Audi five-door Avant with its aggressive front and rear fascias, not to mention its lowered and wide stance.

Power for the Audi A3 TDI comes from the remarkable 2.0 liter TDI (turbo diesel injected) inline 4-cylinder multi-port clean diesel engine that delivers 140hp at 4,200rpm and a healthy 236lb.ft. of torque at just 1,750-2,500rpm.  The real TDI story revolves around fuel economy and emissions.  The 2.0 TDI can yield 30mpg/city and an unmatched 42mpg/highway for a combined EPA fuel economy rating of 34mpg while still maintaining a ULEV-II emissions rating.  This high-tech diesel engine features a cast iron block/aluminum head, turbocharger with intercooler, hydraulic self adjustment, common rail injection system with 8-hole piezo injectors and a Bosch EDC engine management system.

Mated to the 2.0 TDI is a six-speed S-tronic dual-clutch transmission turning the front wheels.  A unique dual-clutch transmission, the S-tronic can perform near instantaneous shifts in just 0.2 seconds with the aid of paddle shifters mounted on the steering wheel or by moving the stick shifter into a separate gate and pushing up to up-shift or pulling back to downshift, but the paddle shifter work quicker and best.  This performance is credited to dual input shafts and twin clutch packs that enable the computer to have the next anticipated gear ‘at the ready’ before it is selected.  When you move the stick into

S-Sport mode the transmission mapping is changed with higher revs enabling you to increase your acceleration.  This special S-tronic transmission makes driving the A3 TDI even more fun and easy.  Launch to 60mph from a standstill is a brisk 7.6sec. with no hint of torque steer thanks to the electronic locking front differential, electronic stability control and traction control.

Further enabling you to enjoy the ride is a great fully independent suspension system featuring MacPherson struts with lower wishbones, coil springs, tubular anti-roll bars and track stabilizing roll radius up front.  A 4-link rear setup features separate shocks and coil springs, and a tubular anti-roll bar.  Both the front and rear suspensions feature aluminum subframes that enhance rigidity, lesson NVH, and increase sports car handling capabilities.  The vehicle speed-sensitive electro-mechanical Servotronic power assist rack & pinion steering system is a great match for the A3 TDI with excellent feel for the road, and almost instant reaction to your steering inputs.  It also lessons total weight with less parts fitted to the engine and no belts taking power from the engine.

Large, 4-wheel steel disc brakes make slowing the A3 TDI down from speed quick and in control.  Up front are 12.3-inch vented discs clamped with dual-piston calipers while 11-inch solid discs clamped with single-piston calipers are featured in the rear.  Braking power and control are enhanced with standard ABS, EBD, BA and the Electronic Stability Program. The new Audi A3 TDI rides on large 17X7.5-inch alloy wheels wrapped with Continental 225/45R17-inch Pro Contact performance tires that enhance traction and give a very smooth ride.

Inside the new A3 TDI is comfortable, elegant and luxurious as you can equip the interior with several different trim levels.  My A3 TDI test vehicle featured the aluminum Medial inlays on the dashboard and door trim.  Fine soft-touch materials and chrome give the A3 TDI an elegant and luxurious feel.  The supportive, 8-way power/heated with power lumbar adjustment driver’s seat and manual front passenger seat are leather trimmed and very comfortable for short or long drives.  The A3 TDI has easy-to-read instruments with black dials and red needles, and a shift indicator displays the lets you know which gear you have chosen in the driver information system in the middle of the instrument cluster.  All dials, switches and buttons are within easy reach and fully illuminated for safe nighttime travel.

Premium and Premium Plus packages are available on the TDI.  The Audi A3 Premium includes standard ESP with ABS and EBD.  Servotronic power steering, Audi hill hold assist and brake assist complete the compliment of driving aids that are standard on the A3 Premium.  The exterior of the A3 TDI Premium includes brilliant halogen headlamps, and two foglamps mounted low in the vehicle’s front fascia.  LED turn signals mounted in the sideview mirrors make the A3 more visible to other drivers.

The interior of the A3 TDI Premium incorporates a four-spoke, leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel and leather seating surfaces. A tilt/telescoping steering column accommodates drivers of any nearly stature are standard, and flexmetallic trim with chrome accents adds a splash of color throughout the cabin.  An extensive number of convenience options like central locking, power windows with one-touch up/down and cruise control are standard.  An Audi concert stereo system with SIRIUS satellite radio and 10-speakers provide entertainment, while a driver information system provides pertinent information such as fuel range, mileage, external temperature and audio settings.

The Audi Premium Plus builds on the equipment found in the A3 TDI Premium by adding Audi xenon plus headlamps with LED daytime running lights.  Inside, a sporty new three-spoke leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, LED ambient lighting and power driver’s seat are standard.  The A3 TDI Premium also boasts added convenience with features like Bluetooth hands-free calling.

The 2011 Audi A3 TDI may be outfitted with a cold weather package that includes heated external mirrors and heated windshield washer nozzles.  A convenience package adds an auto dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlamps and windshield washers as well as a Bose stereo system.  The A3 TDI also may be outfitted with a navigation system plus package that features either an Audi music interface or a six-disc CD changer located in the glove box.

More standard equipment not mentioned above include a dual-zone climate control system with dust and pollen filter, center console with two cupholders and 12-volt power outlets, 60/40 split folding rear seat with a pull-down armrest, dual cupholders and storage, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, electric rear window defogger and wiper/washer, variable-speed, intermittent wipers/washers, dual map lights, storage slots in each front door, deep and wide locking glovebox, grab handles above each door, dual vanity mirrors with lights, electronic cruise control, thick cut-pile carpeting and front/rear floor mats.

The 2011 Audi A3 TDI provides a comprehensive network of safety features designed to protect occupants.  Chief among these is the A3’s lightweight and rigid body structure.  Designed with a stiff cabin shell and specific crumple zones, the A3 TDI directs collision energy down and away from passengers.  Front and side airbags also protect occupants in the front seats.  Rear passengers are protected from side impact by curtain airbags.  Other standard safety features in the 2011 A3 TDI are front and rear 3-point seatbelts with automatic front pretensioners to reduce the risk of post-collision injury, anti-theft vehicle alarm system, LATCH system for child seats, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

The price for a 2011 A3 TDI comes in at $30,250.00 and my nicely loaded test model was stickered at $37,250.00 including the open sky dual sunroof.  The price is high but you are driving the highest most efficient and clean emissions compact five-door hatchback on the market with many upgrades that make this particular A3 TDI very elegant, contemporary and luxurious, not to mention fun and easy to drive and maneuver.



  • Price: Base Audi A3 TDI $30,250 As-Tested $37,250
  • Wheelbase: 101.5in.
  • Total length: 168.9in.
  • Total width: 78.5in.
  • Total height: 56in.
  • Track: f/r-60.3/59.3in.
  • Ground clearance: 4.3in.
  • Turning circle: 35.1ft.
  • Fuel tank: 14.63 gallons
  • Headroom: f/r-39.3/36.9in.
  • Legroom: 41.2/34.8in.
  • Luggage: 19.5cu.ft. behind 2nd. row seat/39cu.ft. behind front row seats
  • 0-60 mph: 7.2 seconds
  • Curb weight: 3,318lbs.
  • EPA mileage: 30mpg/city, 42mpg/highway

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