2017 Audi A3 Driving Impressions

Flexible and refined, the zippy new turbocharged engine is a winner, whether with front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive. The paddle-shifting 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission delivers ultra-rapid shifts, although sometimes clunks at low speeds.

The heavier Cabriolet is a bit less zippy, and there’s some slight shake over bad roads, but it’s still nicely composed.

The rigid Golf platform allows the A3 to use a fairly soft suspension without adversely affecting the above-average handling. The electric power steering is light but direct. The available sports suspension can be stiff over expansion strips, but the seats in the Sport Package have better bolstering help keep the driver in place.

The battery pack in the environmentally correct Sportback e-tron is mounted low, which helps bring down the center of gravity and help the handling. It weighs 500 more pounds than the sedan, but the hybrid engine/motor makes 258 pound-feet of torque, to keep it sprightly. An EV mode selects electric power for motoring at slow speeds.

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