September 21, 2005

Project Audi A3 Introduction
Text & Photos by Ryan Macchione

It's 11pm on a quiet Sunday evening in early spring. I flip open my laptop and begin to scour the web for a replacement vehicle for my gas guzzling sport ute. My needs were simple:

  • Exciting to drive (which eliminated all mini-vans automatically)
  • 25-35 mpg (which essentially eliminated trucks and most AWD cars)
  • The capacity to haul a plasma TV (hmmm)

    I clicked on the Audi USA website to check if the new A4 seats folded down completely. The rest, as they say, is now history.

    Wait, this article is about a project A3! Truth be told, upon opening Audi's home page I discovered something I had just never really considered. The A3 had finally landed in America.

    After 3 weeks of additional research and only a single test drive of another vehicle to show for it, an A3 sighting was actually reported in the Philadelphia area....

    In early June, OPERATIONA3 was put into effect. With four local dealerships (and many others within a reasonable distance), I would have my pick both in terms of color and options. In the end I chose the understated, yet unique Lava Gray pearl effect paint. When it comes down to it, though I think this car looks amazing in any color.

    Options for the car included Audi's innovative DSG transmission, Open Sky System (which includes a sunroof and rear moonroof) and the Cold Weather Package (which adds a ski sack, heated outside mirrors, heated front seats and heated windshield washer nozzles). Not content to stop there I also went full speed ahead with the Premium Package, mainly for the driver's side power seat. The Premium Package, which also includes the convenience package (several ergonomics including trip computer, storage package, and lighting package) was actually a bit of a tough decision compared to the Sports Package. The main difference in my mind was the tradeoff of better handling with the Sports Package versus the aforementioned power driver's seat. In any case I'm satisfied I made the right decision based on my personal criteria.

    Audi's most recent addition to their already potent powerplant lineup is the 2.0-liter turbocharged FSI engine, which also happens to be the only powerplant available on the A3 at the current time in North America. This engine is also an option on the A4.

    From right out of the gate I've been more than satisfied with the ponies under the hood of my A3. Audi is advertising that this turbo will produce 200hp, but most experts feel that this figure is a bit understated and is actually somewhere closer to 210. Aftermarket programming has already hit the street. In the very near future I expect to inject my commuter with solid a 30% increase of horsepower - but that's for another segment of this project car series.

    The plans also include adding what I consider to be the essential cosmetic touches. This will include window tint, alarm, auto starter and one radical audio system . Other plans have us thinking about suspension and braking upgrades, cold air intake, exhaust, summer tires, 18's and last but not least turbo upgrades. The sky is the limit with this operation.

    Audiworld is screaming with knowledgeable fans. My goal is to reach out to both the new members and regulars to provide ideas and reviews on parts, including installation tips. Stay tuned for regular updates.

    I also look forward to seeing folks this coming weekend at the H20 International show this coming weekend in Ocean City, MD where Project Audi A3 will make its show debut.

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