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What Makes the 2020 Audi A3 the Perfect Entry-Level Luxury Car?

While they’ve been virtually providing a tour of Australia, Audi also demonstrated that they’ve spent a lot of time in the lab. The 2020 Audi A3 rolled off the production line and quickly became a hit. Audi made more headlines recently for its groundbreaking S6 model, but the A3 provides another stellar driving experience at less than half the price.

Luxury at a reasonable price

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When it comes to entry-level luxury cars, manufacturers have to walk a thin line. Consumers looking for something on the higher end won’t consider something like the Audi A3, and a huge section of buyers aren’t interested in anything with a “luxury” label whatsoever. Capturing the sliver of the market interested in these vehicles is difficult, but the Audi A3 excels in the narrow window. 

Consumer Reports gave the 2020 A3 an overall score of 74, ranking it first of the five entry-level luxury cars they evaluated. It finished a full 10 points ahead of the 2020 Acura ILX (64 points), and even further ahead of the Mercedes-Benz offerings (the CLA and A-Class at 57 and 56 points, respectively). Against these vehicles, the A3 also tested at the top of the list in 60-0 mph braking distance and scored a perfect five out of five from Consumer Reports in the braking category.

The A3’s evolution

The early versions of the Audi A3 drew criticism since the car was clearly an upgraded VW Golf. Comparisons in 2017 matched the A3 unfavorably against the Volkswagen GTI. But over the past three model years, Audi continued to refine the A3, and it’s finally taken on its own identity as the strongest offering in the entry-level luxury class of 2020.

In reliability, Consumer Reports awarded the A3 a strong four-out-of-five score. Since the 2015 redesign, the A3 continued to trend up in reliability almost across the board. The notable exception to this trend is the in-car electronics, which Consumer Reports marked as dropping slightly in reliability. Everything else has improved year-over-year, and the A3 hits the ideal price point almost perfectly.

Back in 2018, the Audi A3 found itself on the list of cars no one wanted. With great specs and a reasonable price, it didn’t make sense that the A3 lagged so far behind the CLA options from Mercedes-Benz. But over the past two years, Audi continued to improve the A3, eventually rolling out a 2020 model that scores high in all the right places while still coming in at just over $30,000.

The future of the Audi A3

If there is anything to improve, Audi could start with the gas mileage. A respectable 27 mpg city and 40 mpg highway is brought down to only 17 mpg city in the city tests. That’s not a number that’s particularly out of place among entry-level luxury cars, but it’s a potential target for improvement if Audi wants to make their already strong A3 even better in 2021 and beyond. Given that Audi has already invested heavily in parallel-hybrid systems for their A3 models, it’s reasonable to assume that they’re looking at fuel efficiency improvement options.

Aside from the city mpg, the Audi excels in nearly every other aspect. It delivers reliability and entry-level luxury at a price far below some of the more expensive CLA models. Since its redesign in 2013, the A3 has slowly climbed to the forefront of its class.

Mercedes-Benz offerings appeal to consumers who want to spend an extra $10,000 or $15,000 for an incremental upgrade, but the A3 staked its claim in the low-$30,000 range. The 2020 model is by far the best offering of the A3 yet, and the future looks bright for Audi in this market.