Looking for A3 "Real World" Impressions

I test drove an Audi A3 (new model in USA) a few months ago, and liked it (but didn't buy one at the time).
I'm starting to seriously consider a new car at this time and would be
interested in hearing people's real-world experiences with the A3 (particularly the DSG Automatic Transmission) - both positive and negative.
The main negatives for me at the time were: a) Turbo engine requires premium gas (Gas prices were spiking at the time) and b) the cargo space was smallish. (ie-My golf bag wouldn't fit in the back without folding the rear seat down. - That's a relatively minor gripe though....)
I've since read reports - some say that you CAN use regular gas with engines that require premium gas per the manufacturer recommendations (although "performance" would suffer, while others say that you'd be risking engine damage by doing so. (ie - pinging and knocking).
Which is the case with the A3? I'm an average driver that like the A3's practicality. So at most times, I probably wouldn't be pushing the engine too hard. However I do like the "fun factor" that the A3 can provide on occassion, especially those paddle shifters. (I drive a Subaru Forester now and see the A3 as a smaller, more luxurious, more "fun to drive" car that would provide similar practicality.)
So any info on overall impressions and on the regular vs premium gasoline question would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks!
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BRH wrote:

Can you get a TDi in the US? If fuel costs are a problem it will provide great performance and execellent economy. Anyway, your gas is cheap ;-)

I would doubt you'd get damage- look in the broochure for the minumum octane rating. I'd imagine the engine managment would cope with it and you'd just lose a bit of performance. That's the case with most cars these days.

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You may pay more for higher octane fuel but the general consensus seems to be that any extra cost is covered by improved fuel consumption that you'll get over regular petrol.
HTH
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Chris, no Audi TDI engines in the US, unfortunately......
BRH, I have run my 1.8T on mid-grade a couple of times. For a while, when prices were over $3 I would run 2 tanks of mid-grade then a tank of premium. Frankly, I did not notice any difference in either gas mileage or performance. However, 90% of my driving is in-town, so it's not like I'm winding it out at all..... I haven't tried a regular grade in it, and now that prices are back to around $2/gallon for premium, I probably won't. I've been doing every third tank of mid-grade.
On the A3 - I haven't driven it but took an extensive look on the showroom floor a couple weeks back. Personally, I would wait until I could get the 2.0T with quattro and 6-speed (some piont next year, perhaps?). It's definitely a little tighter than my A4 inside, but I like the style and interior.
Dan D '04 A4 1.8Tq MT-6 Central NJ USA
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Not recommended.
My own car is an A4 (with a six-speed manual box). When I had it serviced a couple of months ago, the garage lent me an A3 2.0T quattro with the six-speed manual gearbox. I drove it quite a bit that day. Now, I'm used to manual gearboxes - I've been driving for 30 years, and never owned anything else. On the whole, the car was excellent. But it was badly let down by that gearbox, which was quite he worst I've had to use for many years. It was so stiff as to be barely manageable. It simply did not bear comparison with the one in my own car (which is pretty good, though not perfect). If I was to buy an A3 (which I would seriously consider doing), there is no way at all that I'd get one with a manual gearchange.
Peter.
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Peter wrote:

Horses for courses. I've had 2 A3's and have never had any problems with the gearbox. Of all the cars I've driven, I've found it to have the best gearbox, nice slick and solid change. YMMV :-)
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I don't think that we can be talking about the same gearbox. There's no way that I could imagine anyone describing a gearchange that takes all of the strength in my arm to shift as 'slick'. OK, so you've had manual A3s, but are you sure that they have the same six-speed box as is fitted to the current 2.0Tq? It's certainly not the same six-speed box as I have in my A4.
Even the garage acknowledged that this box 'isn't Audi's best' and reckoned that the DSG was a better option for this particular car.
Peter.
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wrote:

It could be quite simply broken.
Regards
Wolfgang
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Peter wrote:

I have a 6 speed gearbox in my A3. I don't know whether its the same one as in the 2.0TQ. Certainly the box shift is slick and painless. It is extremely comfortable in use and I haven't any issues. I suspect the one you had trouble with was broken.

Thats their opinion, of course.

DSG is an excellent box, no doubt about it, but there was nothing wrong with any of the A3's I've driven.
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Possible, of course, but: (a) it didn't feel broken - just very, very stiff; and (b) I can't see an Audi franchised dealer offering a car with a broken gearbox as a service loan car without first repairing that gearbox.
Peter.
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Well, it IS a different transmission than the A4 - the A3 has a transverse-mounted engine, the A4 is longitudinal, so the transmission is necessarily a different one. It also uses a different quattro system than the A4, being the 'FWD until slip detected' type like the TT versus the 'AWD all the time' type in the A4. They are both called 'quattro', however.
Dan D '04 A4 1,8Tq MT-6 Central NJ USA
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