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. The same year, Audi India brought the World Car of the Year to India.
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.
Similar to new Audi A4 or A6 to look at, it will take a keener eye to differentiate the A3 from its elder siblings. New 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 new alloys.
Rear features a sharper boot lip with LED stop lights and reflectors on the bumper. Compared to the pre-facelift, the new A3 looks much sharper in design, with a better road presence.
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, new leather wrapped three 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. The newly designed AC 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
Offered in a choice of two engines – 2.0L TDI diesel engine and a 1.4 liter petrol engine, new Audi A3 sedan is one of the best 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 320 Nm torque between 1750 – 3000 rpm. Petrol engine is in the form of 1.4 liter TFSI. It generates 150 hp and 250 Nm, claiming a 0-100 kmph in just 8.2 seconds. 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. 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 224 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. So if you are looking for an enthusiastic car, it is the petrol you should go for.
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 will always be tempted to take on those fast corners. 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 Bridgestone 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.
Safety and Features
Audi A3 is one of the most feature loaded car in the 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.
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.