Audi A3 Review: Diesel 35 TDI First Drive
India’s first compact luxury sedan from a premium car manufacturer, Audi A3 is here for a mouth watering starting price of just Rs 22.95 lakhs. Offered in a choice of petrol and diesel engine options, here is a first drive review of the 2014 World Car of the Year.
Introduction:Â Shown as a concept back in 2011, Audi A3 sedan made its world debut last year at the 2013 New York Auto Show. Exactly a year later, at the 2014 NY Auto Show, Audi A3 sedan was adjudged as World Car of the Year.
As demand for compact cars around the world is increasing, luxury car makers too have been compelled to offer one, but one which does not compromise on luxury or space or features. Here is where the A3 sedan fits perfectly. Built on Volkswagen MQB platform, Audi A3 sedan is designed for a completely new segment of buyers, most of which are expected to be first time luxury car buyers.
Exteriors:Â Similar to Audi A4 or A6 to look at, it will take a keener eye to differentiate the A3 from its elder siblings. Audi A3 features all the signature Audi styling, which are also seen on other Audi sedans, making A3 easy to recognize as an Audi. This is very important, as many buyers would be choosing the A3 because of the upgrade in social status this new Audi will be adding to their portfolio.
Front features new arrow shaped LED DRLs with bi-xenon headlamps, trademark grille with the famous four rings, air vents, and aggressive bumper gives A3 a broader look. Moving on to its side, wheel arches and detailed shoulder lines give the car an aerodynamic look, making the car look longer than it actually is. Also noticeable on A3’s side are electric ORVMs with turn indicators and stylish alloys. Rear features a sharper boot lip with LED stop lights and reflectors on the bumper. All in all, Audi A3 is one very good looking car, giving perfect mix of style and premiumness.
Nomenclature:One more point to be mentioned about exterior, is that with the new A3, Audi India has adopted a new naming nomenclature for their cars. Instead of the engine name which was embossed at the rear in Audi cars, now they will come with a number, for eg 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, etc. The higher the number, the faster, technologically advanced your car is. Audi says that this number is derived using their formula which takes into account various factors like engine output, car weight, aerodynamics, interior space, 0-100 kmph time etc. The derived number is then rounded off. For Audi A3 2.0L TDI generating 143 hp, Audi will call it 35 TDI in India, while Audi A3 1.8L TFSI generating 180 hp, will get a 40 TFSI badge.
Interiors:Just like its exteriors, interiors of Audi A3 too spell premium from the onset. Offered in a choice of dual tone beige / black and all black, it comes with leather upholstery, leather wrapped four spoke steering wheel with controls to the audio, navigation, and instrument panel. The tone of the inside of A3 is very simple & clean, yet elegant.
Quality of Audi A3 interiors is top notch. Features onboard include 7 inch colour screen with display to car’s settings, navigation, and music controls. You can control this screen via steering wheel, as well as with the circular MMI knob near arm-rest. Just like Audi’s costlier models, A3 too features state of the art Audi MMI interface, and that too with a cleaner design. MMI touch pad is now on the top of MMI dial, making the overall structure look more premium.
Seats are comfortable and come with electronic controls. Leg room is more than enough for front passengers. Even though rear has a 3 seat arrangement, it gets a little uncomfortable if there are three adults. Another point to be noted here is the rear passenger head-room, which might be a problem if you are taller than 6 feet.
Air condition is impressive and it easily tackles summer heat, as we experienced during our drive in Udaipur. The newly designed AV vents on dashboard of Audi A3 can focus on a particular part of your body or can give a generalized flow, all at the scroll of its chrome dial. Rear vents help the entire car cool faster. Front passengers get dual zone climate control, while rear passengers get standard air vents and a 12V charging port.
As far as storage space is concerned, there is ample of it. All four doors have enough space to hold a 500 ml bottle and other items. Glove box can take care of your important documents. Inside it, you will also find CD/DVD player with SD card slot.
Quality of speakers too is commendable thanks to 10 speakers in total including centre speaker in the dashboard and subwoofer in the spare wheel well. Audi A3 also has 6-channel amplifier with a total output of 180 watts. Boot space too is generous at 425 liters, and with rear seats folded, this increases to 880 liters.
Another impressive fact about Audi A3’s interiors is its dashboard mounted colour screen, which comes out of the dash every time you start the car, and goes back inside when you turn off the car. This will be a USP for many first time buyers. Apart from this, you can also control the screen’s position via a button on the centre console.
Driving and Handling:Â Powered by a 2.0L TDI diesel engine, new Audi A3 sedan is easily the best driver’s car in the segment. It is fun to drive, it has enough power on tap for you to overtake on highways, while compact size makes it easy to manoeuvre in the city traffic. Suspension setting is perfect for Indian road conditions be it a bumpy ride on a rough patch or cruising at a high speed on empty roads. Sound insulation keeps the engine and tyre noise outside the cabin. You won’t here diesel engine sound inside the cabin.
Weighing 1,340 kgs, Audi A3 does not feel under-powered. But, if you are looking for that thrust factor, which pushes you back in the seat on full throttle, its missing in the 2.0L TDI variant. The engine generates 143 hp peak power at 4,200 rpm and 250 Nm torque between 1750 – 2500 rpm. In the diesel variant, transmission is taken care by S Tronic 6 speed automatic gearbox (petrol has 7 Speed S Tronic).
Gear shifts are smooth. In Drive mode, the gearbox up-shifts at around 4,250 rpm. You will hardly notice the up-shifts or down-shifts. The car cruises at speeds of 120-130 kmph without breaking a sweat. Top speed of diesel variant is pegged at 215 kmph (petrol is at 250 kmph). Driving in the mid range is where the most fun lies for this variant, you feel in control and the car behaves according to your instructions instantly.
Sport and Manual mode doesn’t have much juice in Audi A3 diesel. The gearbox up-shifts at a little shy of 5k rpm in manual and at about 4.5k in Sport mode. Compared to Drive mode, in Sport and Manual mode all you get is a shift at a higher rpm, and a false sense of acceleration.
The way Audi A3 steering responds as to the condition is just wonderful, nimble at low speed – making it easier for you to manoeuvre, stiffer at high speeds – giving you the feel of stability. With such control and stability, you are bound to get invited for fast corners, and the A3 doesn’t disappoint. Audi A3 as it is stuck on to the road, and never skips the tarmac, thanks to Electronic Stabilisation Control with Electronic Limited Slip Differential, which comes as standard across all variants.
The one we were driving had 225/45/17 Pirelli Cinturato tyres, standard is 16 inch tyres. Braking is impressive, even at high speeds when you brake hard, the car maintains its posture and doesn’t wobble, as it comes to a stand-still instantly.
Mileage claimed as per ARAI certification for A3 diesel variant is at 20.38 kmpl (petrol claims 16.60 kmpl). During our test drive for over 200 kms on Udaipur – Mount Abu highway, we registered about 13.5 kmpl mileage.
Safety and Features:Â Audi A3 is one of the most feature loaded car in that price segment. It comes with parking aid, panoramic sunroof, automatic air-conditioning with sun sensor, electric seat adjustment, cruise control, start/stop system, front centre armrest, milano leather, Audi Music interface, MMI Radio, MMI Navigation, Driver Information System, Bluetooth and much more. All these features are an answer to the fact that no way is this a cheap luxury car, but a fully loaded premium compact sedan.
On safety front, Audi A3 comes with 7 airbags (front, side, rear and driver knee), ESC, ABS, all four disc brakes, making it one of the safest cars in India under Rs 30 lakhs. Audi A3 has secured 5 stars in Euro NCAP.
Verdict:Â With a price tag that starts at just Rs 22.95 lakhs, Audi has not only threatened their immediate rivals, but also other players in that price range. There is no doubt many would be tempted to go for this entry level Audi, especially in India, where brand name comes before the package on offer. With power, performance, safety, and price in place, A3 is definitely the best driver’s car in the sedan segment for under Rs 30 lakhs.
Why will you buy Audi A3
Why will you not buy Audi A3
– Rear headroom
Price list of Audi A3 sedan in India
Audi A3 Attraction 2.0 (35 TDI) â€“ Rs 22.95 lakhs
Audi A3 Premium 2.0 (35 TDI) â€“ Rs 25.95 lakhs
Audi A3 Premium Plus 2.0 (35 TDI) â€“ Rs 29.95 lakhs
Audi A3 Technology 2.0 (35 TDI) â€“ Rs 32.66 lakhs
Audi A3 Premium Plus 1.8 (40 TFSI) â€“ Rs 28.95 lakhs
Glacier White, metallic
Florett Silver, metallic
Beluga brown, metallic
Scuba blue, metallic
Misano red, pearl effect
Techspecs of Audi A3