2015 Audi A3 sedan

Any doubts about growth in the premium compact segment were quashed at the 2013 New York Auto Show as Audi unveiled the all-new A3 sedan, a fresh take on the German automaker's presence in the segment. Aimed squarely at competitors such as the new Mercedes-Benz CLA, Cadillac ATS and Acura ILX, the new A3 promises to deliver the same technology and quality as other Audi models — simply in a smaller package.

Although the A3 has been in the U.S. since the 2006 model year, its body style has always been a premium compact hatchback. It will return for 2015 as a sedan with multiple engine choices, followed by a high-performance S3 version.

The A3 hatchback will remain in the U.S. market as a plug-in gasoline-electric hybrid, a production version of the A3 Sportback e-tron that debuted at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show.

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2015 Audi A3 sedan

Click to enlarge picture2015 Audi A3 (© Rick Wait)

2015 Audi A3 sedan

What's hot?
The new A3 sedan carries forward Audi's signature design and style attributes, including its single-frame grille, and inherits the sportiness of the previous hatchback.

The sporty sedan will have four engine choices in the U.S. market, starting with a 1.8-liter 170-horsepower TFSI gasoline engine and a 2.0-liter 150-horsepower TDI diesel engine. Two versions of the 2.0-liter TFSI will be offered in the A3 quattro and S3 quattro; official horsepower ratings will be announced later. We expect the 2.0 TFSI will increase the current A3's 200-horsepower rating, and the S3 quattro should pack more than 250 horsepower.

Standard equipment will include leather upholstery, Bluetooth technology, rain-sensing wipers and a panoramic glass sunroof. Technology that previously would not be expected in the compact segment includes Audi MMI, Audi drive select, 4G LTE connectivity and Bang & Olufsen audio.

What's not?
The Audi A3 has been successful as a sporty premium hatchback, so is a new compact sedan a brilliant move or a misstep? As the A3 sedan joins other new models in the growing premium compact segment, it raises the question: How big is the American appetite for a premium small car?

How much and when?
The new Audi A3 will go on sale in the U.S. in the first quarter of 2014 as a 2015 model. While pricing has not been announced, the A3 slots in below the A4 in the Audi lineup, thus pricing should start at less than $30,000 and could approach $25,000. Both the S3 quattro and A3 Sportback e-tron will arrive later in 2014; prices have yet to be announced.

MSN Autos' verdict?
Audi's newest model is a very attractive sport sedan that promises a range of performance capability with both gasoline and diesel engines. The A3 is a sedan we can't wait to get our hands on — and our seats in.

Mike Meredith worked in motorsports public relations and practiced law before joining MSN CarPoint (now MSN Autos) in 1999. A lifelong automotive enthusiast, Meredith has raced sports cars, teaches high-performance driving and enjoys auto detailing in his copious free time.