AUDI A3 SEDAN REVIEW
What’s Hot: Priced to blitz its main rival, the Benz CLA 200.
What’s Not: No sunglasses holder, sat-nav a costly option.
X FACTOR: Premium quality, a miserly thirst and a dynamic drive at an attainable price.
Vehicle style: Small premium sedan
Price: $39,800 ($42,790 as tested with $2990 options)
Engine/trans: 103kW/250Nm 1.4 litre TFSI turbo | 7spd dual-clutch auto
Fuel economy listed: 4.7litres/100km (95RON minimum) | tested: 6.8 l/100km
Audi’s A3 small-car range has been a huge success story for the premium German brand since first released some 16 years ago.
Since then, more than 2.7 million A3s have been sold world-wide. Now, more than six months after its European release, Australia gets the sedan version.
It comes in four model derivations: two turbo-charged petrol variants, a turbo-diesel (all with front-wheel-drive) and an AWD 1.8 litre TFSI Quattro range-topper.
For this test, we’ve chosen the $39,800 entry-level 1.4 TFSI.
It’s expected to be the biggest seller, and, perhaps a little surprisingly, it was the stand-out model at the national media launch.
There is not a lot of choice in the premium compact segment with the Mercedes-Benz CLA 200 being the new Audi’s obvious main rival.
But the Audi bests the CLA’s entry price by a whopping $10,000.
- Leather-appointed trim, dual-zone auto climate control with rear-seat vents
- Eight-speaker MMI audio system with 5.8-inch colour display, SDHC card reader and USB input
- Cruise control, rear-parking sensors
- Automatic headlights and wipers
- A multi-function leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle-shifters.
The A3 Sedan interior carries the quality feel and classy style for which Audi interiors are renowned.
There are plenty of appealing soft-touch surfaces, big, easy-to-read dials and excellent ergonomics when it comes to fiddling with the various controls.
As we’ve come to expect with all vehicles wearing the four interlocking rings logo, the A3 sedan’s seats are beautifully-shaped and supportive, with plenty of bolstering in the right places.
However, while there is a reasonable selection of storage cubby holes and good interior flexibility, the lack of a roof-mounted sunglasses holder stands out.
It’s a minor omission, but these days they are fitted to a whole lot of cars that cost much less than the Audi.
Also, a lot of cars below this price point feature sat-nav as standard; rolled into the Technik package it’s an extra $2990 for the A3.
The rear seatbacks have a 60/40 split. With the seats occupied, there is 425 litres of boot space, but drop the backs down and this rises to a super-handy 880 litres.
One area in which the A3 sedan outshines its Benz CLA200 rival is rear-seat headroom, which is noticeably better for taller passengers.
There is a little tyre noise on coarse secondary roads. It’s not intrusive, but it's there.
ON THE ROAD
- 4-cylinder 1.4 litre TFSI turbo petrol engine, with cylinder-on-demand (COD) technology
- Power/torque: 103kW/250Nm (between 1500 and 3500rpm)
- Seven-speed dual-clutch S tronic auto transmission
- MacPherson-strut front-suspension; four-link rear
- Braking: dual-circuit discs front and rear
- Warranty: three years, unlimited kilometres; service intervals, 15,000k.
The 1.4 TFSI A3 Attraction Sedan is a real surprise package. The bright performance from the 1.4 litre jewel under the bonnet is quite unexpected.
We couldn’t get the listed 4.7 litres, but, with a heavy foot and a tight engine managed a respectable 6.8 l/100km.
Audi engineers have used plenty of lightweight materials for the body and underpinnings; the engine also benefits from lighter materials and weight-saving design.
The cylinder-on-demand technology - COD, there’s a new acronym for you - works a treat.
It shuts down cylinders two and three when the car senses a low or moderate engine-load during coasting. You simply cannot pick when it cuts in and out.
The A3 Sedan’s low kerb weight of just 1250kg and wide track (with meaty tyres) ensure great on-road handling and cornering stability.
Pushed hard into corners, there is not the slightest hint of understeer - the feeling at the wheel is one of great security.
With a fat 250Nm of torque to call on, it manages a pretty reasonable sprint time to 100km/h of 8.4 seconds.
The little engine’s performance means it can certainly hold its own at the traffic lights or when overtaking.
It is also quite comfortable on road with a settled feel, thanks partly, I would suspect, to the additional weight and overhang of the boot.
ANCAP rating: 5-Stars, a best-in-class score of 36.41 out of a possible 37 points.
Safety features: A full-suite of passive-and-active occupant-protection with seven airbags, electronic differential lock, anti-slip regulation, ABS, electronic brake-force distribution and electronic stability control.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
A premium badge without a premium price, that’s the new A3 sedan.
And, with more buyers downsizing - even those who can afford not to - the timing of the arrival of the new Audi could not be better.
At $39,800 for the entry-level 1.4 TFSI tested here, the new Audi makes a compelling value-for-money case.
That price will make things difficult for the new A3’s direct competitor - the Mercedes-Benz 1.6 litre CLA 200 that arrived sales here late last year with a $49,990 price tag.
To put the A3 Sedan’s price advantage into further perspective, if you ordered a 1.4 TFSI with all the bits in the $2000 Style package, the $2990 Technik package, the $1800 Assistance package and the $2200 Comfort package it would lift the price to $47,890… still well below the CLA’s $49,990.
Armed with a compelling price tag, smart styling, classy interior and very good driving dynamics, this 1.4 TFSI A3 Sedan is the pick of the range.
It might be the entry model, but looks and feels the premium buy.
The A3 sedan range is available now, with the pricing as following:
- A3 Sedan 1.4 TFSI Attraction: $39,800
- A3 Sedan 1.8 TFSI Ambition: $44,800
- A3 Sedan 2.0 TDI Ambition: $44,800
- A3 Sedan 1.8 TFSI Ambition quattro: $47,800