Audi will have the hearts of sports car enthusiasts racing this year with the release of the 2015 Audi S3 Sedan 2.0T Quattro S tronic, developed just for the US market, and 2015 A3 Cabriolet 1.8T FWD S tronic. These two beautiful cars promise the tight German engineering of Audi with new exciting design lines that make the cars appear in motion, even when parked.
At a recent event at the exquisite luxury retreat Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa in Rancho Sante
Fe, California, the car manufacturer gave a special preview of the vehicles to a rapt audience of lifestyle media writers who also got a turn at driving the cars to and from the resort from Los Angeles.
The S3 ($41,100) was a pure pleasure to drive, with responsive handling that can be set to the driver’s preference, whether it is dynamic, comfort, or automatically adaptive according to the current driving conditions or custom-tuned to the individual’s style of driving. The A3 ($35,600) cabriolet was equally thrilling, with the addition of going topless in Southern California’s sunshine, a true indulgence for anyone who loves to drive.
Both cars features the progressive power steering that adapts to type of driving and speed, so that it is as effortless to turn the wheels sharply into a parking spot as it is to change lanes at 65 miles per hour. Both vehicles also sport Audi’s 6-speed tronic transmission that can be shifted into manual operation for open-road driving — a delight, once you get out of LA traffic.
The Bluetooth programmable navigation/entertainment/media system is loaded with features, including the ability to post to Facebook and tweet through voice command via the car’s built-in SD card reader and Wi-Fi hotspot on AT&T’s 4G network, offered free for six months then at $9 per month. The GPS features Google satellite images, so the driver can zoom in and get a visual on their destination, down to the house number on the front door; and maps can be loaded rom a laptop and saved on the system via a My Audi account. The cutting-edge technology also features a touch pad incorporated into the dial selector of the navigation system so that a driver can “write” directions using a fingertip as a stylus.
While the Audi is built for speed, these models also abound in comfort features, such as heated seats that hug the passengers and recline and adjust with a myriad of lumbar positions. The cabriolet interior sports fine leather with a special reflective shield that keeps the seat surfaces cool even while driving under the sun. The convertible top is insulated with an inch-and-a-half thick sound-proofing material making for a quiet rid;, and even while traveling at 30 miles per hour the top can fold away in under 18 seconds into a sleek one-piece molded cover.
While the peppiness of the A3 170 hp and the S3 292 hp engine appeals to Audi lovers who value the race car ride, these cars were also designed for beauty on and off the road. The designer created a strong, bulked-up rear quarter inspired by the muscular haunches of a wild animal that drives the illusion of movement forward, even when the car is sitting still.
Safety features include round-the-body air bags from the knees up, rearview camera, and automatic functions to close windows and the sunroof and tighten seat belts and move seats into crash positon in the event of an impact.
The Audi reps were enthusiastic about these new cars exceeding expectations of loyal Audi fans attracting many new Audi owners.
At the end of the weekend, the reps headed off in their Audis to the next stop, an 850-mile two-day trek from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to LA on an “efficiency ride” to illustrate how far the A3TDI cars can go on a single tank of gas. It is hard to believe that a car with such performance is also so incredibly fuel efficient. Go Audi.