Audi, the German luxury auto brand that has long been overshadowed in the U.S., is betting it finally has the car to challenge Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the country's fast-growing entry-level luxury market.
After unveiling the A3 last year, the automaker is giving journalists a chance to test drive the new vehicle before it goes on sale in April.
"There's a big market that wants to come in and enter luxury, and for a car at $30,000, this is a price point to do that," said Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America.
(Read more: How low can they go? Entry-level luxe cars heat up)
For years, luxury automakers have been pushing the price of entry-level models lower and lower. Mercedes broke the $30,000 barrier with the CLA-Class, which went on sale early last year and sold more than 14,000 models in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz CEO Dieter Zetsche told CNBC, "I've never seen a car getting this much attention."
The success of the "Baby Benz," as many call the CLA-Class, was not lost on Mercedes rivals—in particular, Audi.
"This segment is [going to] be going up by nearly 400 percent between now and 2020," Keogh said. "A lot of competitors are introducing products here. We feel [we've] got the right one to compete."