California Autos Examiner

Friday, September 04, 2009

2010 Audi A3 TDI: It's not for idiots

2009 Audi A3 (courtesy of audi)

It is rather fitting that on the day Audi USA announces pricing for its 2010 A3 TDI a quote from Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen regarding the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt makes the rounds of the blogosphere,

"No one is going to pay a $15,000 premium for a car that competes with a Corolla. So there are not enough idiots who will buy it."

It is no secret that the Germans have and thing for diesels and they'd like Americans to warm up to compression ignition. However, I don't think that kicking sand in the face of the new General Motors' virtual mascot the best move.

Click to view a gallery of Audi A3 TDI images.

One of the contentions by diesel supporters is that the fuel is getting short shrift from legislators. Is it simply a case of jealousy on the part of the diesel lobby that causes outbursts like this? No matter the case, Audi quickly realized that it had better not come off as an aloof bully so de Nysschen posted a response on Audi's Facebook page,

"I do not specifically recall using the term “car for idiots” during my informal conversation with the writer. It was certainly not my intention to leave the impression that I’m opposed to electrical vehicles, and if I was unclear on either of those points then I need to eat crow."

Everybody feel better now? If nothing else, this is at least a better use for Facebook than Honda's Crosstour debacle.

Back to the crux of this story, Audi has released pricing for the 2010 A3 TDI. The A3 TDI with S tronic front wheel drive will start at $29,950 plus an obligatory $825 destination charge. That's a small $1200 premium to pay over the gas powered 2010 A3 premium S tronic model. Sadly, you cannot specify a manual transmission with the TDI. You can already play with Audi's configurator via this link to spec out a TDI for your very own. I did note that while the initial pricing was correct, the configurator did not tally up all of my individual options. Perhaps they are not yet priced?

The Audi A3 TDI scores an impressive 42MPG in the EPA's highway cycle. During the Audi Mileage Marathon last year, some writers scored substantially higher numbers with an A3 TDI, so you might be able to squeak out better numbers for your very own.

If I were considering an A3, which I think is a fine car, and could live with the limited transmission choice, I would definitely go TDI. The question gets murkier when you consider the Jetta wagon TDI. Given that the 2010 Jetta wagon will get a much more appealing look than the current model, I would have to say that I would lean towards the Jetta, especially if VW keeps the manual transmission available on the TDI (which I am quite sure they will). You also save about six grand (comparing 2009 Jetta with 2010 A3 of course) so that is an added incentive. Still for those noble few who wish to set themselves apart from the masses, you could go farther and do a lot worse than an A3: You simply have to pay a premium for that exclusivity.

Johan de Nysschen’s remarks on the future of Audi and sustainable technology (part 1).

Johan de Nysschen’s remarks on the future of Audi and sustainable technology (part 2)

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