On April 3rd, Audi of America and its dealers held #AudiA3 events to launch the new A3 sedan in the US and provided those who were interested in the car to find out more about them and get a chance to test drive the cars. In Portland, there were two #AudiA3 launch events held by each of the dealers: Sunset Audi and Audi Wilsonville. Although many of the dealers around the country opted to hold events at the dealer, both Portland dealers chose locations in or very near to downtown Portland.
Since both events were held on the same night, I had to split my time between the two events. Thankfully, the events were only about 5 minutes from each other, with Audi Wilsonville’s event hosted at Urban Studios in the Pearl District and Sunset Audi’s at the Leftbank Annex across the Willamette River, near the Rose Garden, er, Moda Center. Both events had slightly varying demographics that could have been influenced in part of the location of the events and how people were invited. Sunset’s event was RSVP only (which had filled up) and was set up as more of a dance/club venue while Wilsonville’s was open to walk-ins, along with RSVPs. The latter’s smaller venue also made the event feel a bit more intimate and fits in with some of the weekly/monthly events that are held in the Pearl.
With that said, both events were quite enjoyable and it was nice to see that the two dealers each did their own unique event, versus copying directly off of each other. I do have to note that even though media outlets, including Edmunds and Jalopnik, painted the events to cater solely to hipsters and basically be all about Portlandia. I guess click-baiting is the name of the game when it comes to news aggregators and outlets. I’m not sure about the events outside of Portland, but the two Portland events were not even close to what is normally depicted by Portlandia and Portlandia-esque stereotypes.
If anything, the photo booth that was set up at Wilsonville’s event was the closest thing in which people can use a few Audi and non-Audi props to take a set of four photos. The photos are available online at Photo Boothery’s site, and yes, I caved and decided to have my photo taken.
Inside Urban Studio, Audi Wilsonville had two Audi A3s on display, a Glacier White 2.0T and a Brilliant Black 1.8T, along with a couple of A3s available for test drives. At Leftbank Annex, Sunset Audi had three A3s on display: a Scuba Blue 1.8T, a Glacier White 2.0T and a Monsoon Gray 2.0T. I’m not sure how many A3s Sunset Audi had available for test drives, but there were two that had just come back in as I was leaving the event. Since I have already driven the A3 1.8T before both events took place, I opted out of doing another test drive. That said, I do want some extended seat time in an A3 2.0T quattro.
At Sunset’s event, they had each of the three A3s under a cloth, with the LED DRLs on and peering through, and did an unveiling of the cars after a quick introduction. Sunset had the same unveiling of the Audi allroad at their event back in 2012. Audi Wilsonville had both of their A3s on display from the moment the event started and throughout the night.
At both events, catered food and drinks available, along with Audi A3 USB wristbands given out. Sunset provided the wrist band was at the check-in desk, which is loaded with brochures of the Audi line up and the A3, along with potential goodies like discounts to local businesses. Audi Wilsonville had two USB wristbands, one loaded with the Audi full range brochure and the other with the A3 brochure. I preferred having just one wristband with both brochures.
Also handed out with the USB wristband at Sunset’s event were two raffle tickets that are used to drop into jars for the chance to win anything from Timbers tickets to care packages. Audi Wilsonville gave people a chance to win various gifts with Audi ring toss contests. My bad luck and sucky throws landed no prizes for me.
Speaking of the Timbers, there were two Portland Timbers players that took part of the first hour of the Sunset Audi event, which I missed by 10-15 minutes. Cue sad face.
Prominently featured at both events were DJ supplied music that included a mix of current pop and dance music. I do have to say that the loudness of the music at both venues were a significant problem, as you couldn’t really hold a decent conversation without yelling or missing about every other word. A slight nod goes to Audi Wilsonville’s venue, Urban Studio, as there is a bar situated between the main section and where the food was served. The bar helped tone down the volume just a bit and allowed for a bit of a respite. One can also just step outside and have a normal conversation without screaming at each other; granted, you would also be out in the drizzle/showers/rain spurts.
Unfortunately, there was zero reprieve from the outright loudness of the music at Sunset’s event at the Leftbank Annex. The volume of music was almost constant, whether you were on the main floor, in the check-in table just beyond the entry way or up on the loft. Also, the dark lighting that allowed dance club spot lighting to be used made taking photographs of the cars and people are royal PITA. I guess having a D800E where ISO 6400 is just usable doesn’t help either.
Overall, both events were a success for the respective dealers and there was a lot of interest in the new Audi A3. There were a lot of people that were attracted by the new Audi design language found on the inside and outside of the A3. A number of people did bemoan the lack of a Sportback, which will come over only as an e-tron plug-in hybrid, and the lack of a manual transmission. A few others are waiting for the TDI and S3 to arrive, and heard questions about the A3 cabriolet.
I want to thank both Sunset Audi and Audi Wilsonville for the invites and give out cheers to everyone involved in planning, setting up and taking care of all of the logistics of both events. Also a round of cheers for everyone at Audi of America and dealers around the country for starting off the A3 launch with a bang.
You can view photos that were taken at both events via the links below.