These are good times for anyone wanting to buy an entry level luxury car and the A3 is easily the most well rounded of the bunch. But Audi certainly wanted to make it an even better deal for prospective buyers and have given the A3 sedan a mild makeover. Just like any other botox-treatment, you get minor exterior changes, a few new features and more importantly an all new engine (borrowed from the A4 though).
Audi hopes these changes will make the A3 a sharper tool in the parking lot and a whole lot more desirable as well.
The A3 has always been a good looking and well balanced design, so extreme changes were never needed. What Audi has done is given it a new set of bumpers both ahead and at the back. The headlamps now get a sharper indent in them and they look more angular than before. The signature Audi ‘goatee’ grille has been slightly reshaped too and looks very similar to the bigger A4 now. The side profile is similar though but the rear also gets a sharper looking lamp cluster. In fact if you see it from a distance, the new A3 looks like the A4 and most will mistake it for that car. A good thing for sure.
The Audi A3 beats its rivals hands down in the perceived quality department. The top of the dashboard and all switchgear feels like it’s made from first rate plastics. Key features include a smart looking tablet like device that pops out from the centre of the dashboard when you start the car. Xenon headlamps along with multiple airbags and cruise control are all on board. Audi is offering a sunroof for the first time as standard equipment on the A3. You also get AC vents which look like turbine engines and Audi’s MMI interface, which helps release plenty of clutter from the centre console. The red dials look sporty and the front seats have good support all across as well. The problem is in the back. Legroom is limited and the tall lump in the floor panel means you can only sit two at the back for even the shortest of short journeys.
Engine, performance and gearbox
Audi has given this car the same 1.4-litre petrol motor as the A4. This engine makes a feisty 150bhp of power. In terms of refinement, it’s a superb unit and even when the engine is switched on, you can’t tell if it’s running or not. Performance is brisk as well with Audi claiming 0-100kph in around 8 seconds.
The seven-speed dual clutch automatic gearbox is a delight to use. It doesn’t suffer from any lag and gear changes are crisp and smooth as well.
The diesel is the tried and tested 2-litre unit and it makes over 184bhp in the new A3. This same unit does duty on a wide range of Audi-VW cars across the world albeit in different states of tune. It’s supremely refined and vibrations are kept well under control as well. The best part is that it simply revs up like a petrol motor, without any fuss and goes all the way to its redline of 4,500rpm. Sure, there is some turbo lag below 2,000rpm but the dual clutch gearbox is more than able to aid smooth progress.
Ride and handling
The handling on the A3 is simply sublime. The crisp steering wheel along with the sharp chassis gives it plenty of agility. The steering is well weighted, at slow city speeds, it is nice and easy and when speeds increase it becomes more communicative.
There is always a stiff edge to the ride but never overtly so that you start feeling all the badly patchworked roads inside the cabin. At slower city speeds you will have to slow down for that rumble strip though but at higher speeds the car feels very stable.
The A3 is a great car for keen drivers. Yes, rear leg room is at a premium but apart from that, you can’t find any fault with it. As your first premium luxury car, the Audi A3 is a fine choice.