We were summarily impressed with the A3 sedan when we attended its press introduction in San Francisco a year ago. Since then, Audi dealers have had trouble keeping the little sedan on their lots as demand for the entry-entry-luxury segment ramps up. In order to broaden the A3 line, as well as go head-to-head with other small, high-performance German offerings such as the BMW M235i and Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG, Audi rolled out the S3 sedan – a more heavily pressurized and tightly suspended version of the previous 2.0 TFSI range-topper. So is this simply a Golf R in evening wear, or a legitimate successor to the performance Quattro throne? Read on to find out.
Tag - Audi
Though the recently announced, more sporting V iteration of the compact Cadillac ATS has stolen most of the headlines recently, we’ve been eager to get our hands on the standard version of the littlest Caddy for some time now – especially in svelte coupe form pictured here.
Much has been made of the German Big Three’s move toward the mainstream in terms of price; at no time in history has one of these luxury marques been more attainable by the non-wealthy (in the US at least). But most of the opinions voiced in the press have been somewhat negative, at least from a purist’s perspective. “What’s the point of an aspirational brand if any middle management type can afford one”, they argue. We spent a week with the CLA250 in the hopes we could separate the editorial banter from the car underneath.
When Volkswagen introduced the current North American market, US-built Passat in 2011, it was a move seen as either heresy or necessity, depending on which side of the VW enthusiast fence you sat on. After all, if the company wasn’t going to trade on its “Continental manufacturing for the mainstream” appeal, what was the point? At least, that was the counterargument to VW’s claim that a midsize sedan designed specifically for the North American market would finally allow them to compete on price, size and content with competitors from Asia and the US. Despite being three model years in, we haven’t yet covered the “NMS” Passat on these pages. No time like the present…
Jaguar, rarely one to build homely cars, has nevertheless been on an unprecedented streak of late, churning out one fast, beautiful, glorious-sounding sports car after another. Whether that has something to do with former Evo magazine founder Harry Metcalfe leaving his editorial post to become Jaguar-Land Rover’s new halo product planner last year (which I am obscenely jealous of) remains to be seen. What does seem apparent is Jaguar’s desire to create a high-performance sub-brand that can compete head on with the likes of Audi’s quattro GmbH (think RS models and the R8), Mercedes AMG and BMW M with their own line of “R” and “R-S” models. The XJR pictured here is one such shot across the Germans’ bow.
In a car industry flush with new luxury categories, the one that seems to present the most room for growth is the one at the small end of the spectrum – the “Premium A-segment”, filled with cars like the A3 seen here, the Mercedes-Benz CLA, and the BMW 1-/2-series. Audi of America’s President, Scott Keogh, told the group of journalists gathered in northern California for the press introduction of the A3 1.8 and 2.0T sedans that he saw 400% growth potential in the segment over the next few years. That’s serious headroom, and if these first new A3 models to hit our shores are any indication, a place where torrid competition will be taking place among manufacturers.