2009 Audi A3 Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2008
  • Refreshed interior and exterior
  • Quattro all-wheel drive (AWD) available on 2.0T models
  • Available Magnetic Ride Control
  • Optional S tronic dual-clutch transmission
  • New LED front lamps
  • Four- or 6-cylinder powerplants
  • Arriving in the fall of 2008


The 2009 Audi A3 arrives in showrooms this fall with a refreshed exterior amid several other improvements. The smallest sedan in Audi's lineup, the compact 5-door slots under the larger Audi A4, midsize Audi A6, and flagship Audi A8 sedans.The A3 has been on sale in the European market since 1996, but it didn't arrive in North American showrooms until its second-generation iteration in 2005. Don't let its compact size fool you-the Audi A3 offers fine European engineering in a package with room for 5. In fact, the entry-level A3 shares many luxury and technology features with its big brothers. The 2009 model year will see an updated exterior and interior, new driveline choices, and a new suspension offering. The A3 is expected in showrooms this fall.

All 2009 Audi A3 models will come with a 4-year/50,000-mile new-vehicle limited warranty that includes a 12-year limited warranty against corrosion perforation. Road America provides 24-hour roadside assistance for the first four years of ownership.

Model Lineup

All 2009 Audi A3 models share the same 5-door "Sportback" platform and a choice of 4- or 6-cylinder power and front- or all-wheel drive (FWD or AWD). There are two different models: A3 2.0T and A3 3.2 Quattro. The standard 4-cylinder A3 2.0T is available with a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed "S tronic" dual-clutch transmission; FWD or AWD powertrains are available. The more powerful 6-cylinder A3 3.2 features Audi's quattro IV permanent AWD system with torque-sensing center differential as the standard transmission. It is only available mated to the 6-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic.

New for 2009, Audi has freshened the exterior of all models with new LED Daytime Running Lights (optional on some models), and restyled hood, front grille and tail lamps. The interior received upgrades in the form of decorative inlays, new interior colors, and instrument bezels in white. All models feature standard dual-zone air conditioning with fully automatic climate control, electronic cruise control, and the Audi Concert II AM/FM stereo with single in-dash CD player. Audi's Open Sky system, a powered large two-part panoramic glass sunroof, is also standard across the lineup. The upgraded 6-cylinder A3 3.2 models feature a Bose Audi Symphony premium sound system, rain-sensing wipers, fog lights, 12-way sport power front seats, leather upholstery, and several other additional standard features. Major packages and options include the Premium package, Audio package, Technology package, and the Cold Weather package. The "S line" package adds larger wheels and tires, a roof spoiler, upgraded sport steering wheel, fog lamps, an audio package, and several other cosmetic changes. The DVD-based Audi Navigation Plus system is available as a stand-alone option on all models.


The Audi A3 family offers a choice of two different powerplants, and two drivelines, for the 2009 model year. The engine found under the hood of the entry-level 2.0T models is a direct-injection, 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder rated at 200 hp and 207 lb.-ft. of torque. The standard transmission is a 6-speed manual gearbox (EPA fuel economy estimates of 20 mpg city/29 mpg highway). Audi's S tronic 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is optional (EPA fuel economy estimates 22 mpg city/29 mpg highway). The 3.2 models receive a direct-injection, 6-cylinder 3.2-liter engine rated at 250 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque (EPA fuel economy estimates 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway). The 6-cylinder is only available with Audi's S tronic 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. The standard A3 2.0T model is now offered with a choice of FWD or Audi's full-time quattro IV permanent AWD system. All-wheel drive is standard on the A3 3.2 models.

The suspension setup on the 2009 Audi A3 is of a McPherson design in the front and a 4-link independent design in the rear. New for 2009 is the optional Magnetic Ride Control. It is a technically-advanced adaptive suspension system that allows the driver to choose between comfort or sport settings, depending on the driving environment. All 2009 Audi A3 models feature electromechanical steering with speed-dependent power assist and 4-wheel disc brakes with standard anti-lock control. Standard wheels are 16 inches in diameter, with 17- and 18-inch wheels with high-performance tires optionally available.


Audi has fitted all 2009 A3 models with 2-stage, next-generation front air bags and side air bags for driver and passenger protection. The air bags have electronic seat-occupant sensors to manage deployment. Front seats feature pre-tensioning 3-point seat belts and active head restraints. All A3 Sportback models feature Audi's Sideguard head-protection air bags for front and rear occupants, with rear side air bags optional. An Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP) is standard equipment. The Lower Anchors and Tethers for CHildren (LATCH) system is standard in the rear outboard positions as is a tire-pressure-monitoring system. The 2006-2008 Audi A3 has been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The A3 earned a "Good" rating for the frontal offset test, and a "Good" rating for the side-impact test-the highest ratings issued by the Institute. Last year, the 2008 Audi A3 was chosen by the IIHS as a "Top Safety Pick" for 2008.


Audi offers an innovative automatic transmission as an option on the 2009 A3 2.0T, and it is standard equipment on the more powerful A3 3.2 model. It is called the Audi "S tronic" dual-clutch direct-shift gearbox and, the company claims, delivers faster shifts than any human driver and better fuel economy than a traditional 6-speed manual transmission. The transmission contains two wet plate-type clutches that are electronically controlled to engage in sequence. While a traditional gearbox has just one clutch resulting in a short delay as the gears are engaged, the dual-clutch design of the S tronic delivers quicker shifting as the gears are "readied" for the next shift automatically. There is no loss of power between shifts, Audi says, and efficiency is greatly improved. Offering an excellent compromise between a manual or an automatic, the S tronic transmission is designed to work completely automatically or the driver can manually control the shifts via steering wheel-mounted paddles.
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