Just When It Gets Really Good, We May Not Get It
The (final) final decision on whether or not we will get the second-generation Audi A3 Sportback in the US has yet to be handed down by the juries in Ingolstadt and Herndon (Virginia, corporate seat for Audi USA). But that doesn’t mean we can’t head to the roads of the Monte Carlo Rally in this car’s most powerful and accoutered trim three months before European customers take deliveries in late February. Our ride for the day? The A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI Quattro S-line with the beefy six-speed S-tronic, a car good for 181 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque between 1,750 and 3,000 rpm. If it came available in the US, we anticipate pricing would begin around $34,500 for this topmost trim.
When we get a shot to drive on these utterly spectacular roads, the assumption would be that our Audi of choice would be an RS trim with a chassis set up for our usual abuses. Such was not the case this time, however, as our tester did not even benefit from the optional Audi Magnetic Ride dampers that are now available on the A3. Audi Drive Select is standard at this engine and trim level (we had the European “Ambition” trim, which equates roughly to Premium Plus in the States), and this does provide for the recalibration of several dynamic bits between Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual modes. With the six-speed S-tronic gearbox, ADS takes care of shift responses, as well.
Although this A3 Sportback was not like an RS3 by a longshot on our route, we simply toned down our rate to match what might be the driving attitude of a typical owner. Taken as such, this top tune of the 2.0 TDI engine, plus all of our model’s premium touches inside, made for a thoroughly satisfying experience on roads any enthusiast would never want to leave. Conditions were ideal, as there was literally zero traffic to disturb our exploration of this latest Sportback.