Reviewed for you: Audi A3

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06 Jan 2020 by smartleasing

The Audi A3 was spun off the Golf IV platform (VW Group owns both Volkswagen and Audi, Skoda, Seat, Lamborghini and Bentley, and platform sharing is common) and revealed to the world in 1996. It initially launched as a three-door hatchback with a five-door hatchback joining in 1999. The second-generation model arrived in 2005, and the current A3 debuted in 2016; it’s been refreshed a few times since then, not the least of which was last year when the model naming changed to reflect Audi’s new model naming structure (explained below).

What’s the price and what do you get?

The A3 range kicks off with the Sportback five-door hatchback via the A3 30 TFSI Sportback (from $36,600+ORCs), followed by the 35 TFSI COD Sportback ($40,700+ORCs), and the 40 TFSI available in front-wheel drive ($46,800+ORCs) or all-wheel drive, at $50,400+ORCs. The sedan is available in 35 TFSI COD trim ($42,300+ORCs) or as a 40 TFSI sport FWD model ($48,400+ORCs) or with AWD from ($52,000+ORCs). The Cabriolet is available in 35 TFSI COD ($49,800) spec, as a 40 TFSI sport variant ($55,900) or with quattro for $59,900. The S3 TFSI quattro Sportback lists from ($64,200+ORCs) and the Sedan from ($65,800+ORCs).

So, what do you get for your money? The standard specifications haven't changed much since 2017 with the entry model (30 TFSI) offering front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, cruise control, dual-zone climate control, and a 7.0-inch infotainment screen with native sat-nav. The 35 TFSI adds 17-inch alloys (up from 16s), leather seats and steering-mounted paddle shifters. The 40 TFSI (FWD) gets sports-style leather seats, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and Audi’s drive mode select. The 40 TFSI all-wheel-drive variants get 18-inch alloys and lowered sports suspension. Both the front- and all-wheel drive variants add blind-spot monitoring and rear-cross traffic alert.

All variants in the A3 range come standard with city-based autonomous emergency braking (meaning it will bring you to a complete stop at up to 65km/h), traction and stability controls, seven airbags, reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors and more. High-speed autonomous emergency braking, auto high-beam headlights and lane-keep assist are available as cost options across the range.

What’s the interior like?

The quality of the materials used, the layout of the dashboard and practicality of the general controls and switchgear is excellent. Indeed, as far as dashboard designs and the feeling of quality go, in the premium compact segment, the Audi A3 stands well apart from the pack. And that’s even compared with newer rivals, like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. Our one minor gripe is the circular air vents…these are becoming more common, but in a car like the A3, we reckon slatted vents would work better but, hey, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.

The highlight of the interior is the addition of Audi’s Virtual Cockpit to the A3 range, a 12.3-inch screen that replaces the standard analogue gauges on the dash. The display can be customised to display a variety of information such as navigation, audio/media controls and vehicle information. Standard on the go-fast S3, it is available as part of a $2900 Technik Package on all other models.

What’s the passenger space like?

This is a tale of two parts… see, the front seats are excellent with plenty of adjustability and good vision all around the vehicle. But climb into the back, and it’s a different story with headroom severely compromised for those measuring more than six-feet tall, with leg and knee room similarly tight.

What about the boot?

The boot space in both the Sportback (380 litres) and Sedan (425 litres) is ample, although there’s a lack of smart cargo holding options which will mean potentially spilling groceries if you’re testing the S3’s sharp cornering ability on the way home from the shops.

What’s under the bonnet?

The A3 30 TFSI has a 1.0-litre TFSI three-cylinder petrol engine with performance that exceeds its on-paper numbers of 85kW and 200Nm. On the road, it has more than enough power to keep up with traffic. The 1.4-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine in the 35 TFSI variant offers 110kW and 250Nm of torque along with the fuel-saving functionality of being able to shut down two of its cylinders when coasting. The 40TFSI front- and Quattro all-wheel-drive variants get a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine making 140kW and 320Nm of torque is a lot of fun with good acceleration and all while returning an impressive 5.8L/100km. Right at the top of the tree is the S3 with its 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine making a neck-snapping 213kW and 380Nm of torque.

What’s it like on the road?

The entry models are set-up to provide a more comfortable ride, and so you can expect a little more body roll through corners than the more performance-oriented variants. It’s not until you climb into the 40 TFSI variants, particularly the Quattro all-wheel drive that the A3 takes on a more sporting character. Indeed, the lowered suspension, quicker steering, bigger wheels, more power and grip make for a lot more fun when pushing through corners. Sure, the ride is a little firmer than the cheaper models, but it’s not uncomfortable and the smiles it delivers on a twisty section of road more than make up for that firmer ride. And then there’s the S3 which is a proper pocket-sized performance car with excellent grip and go through corners. It’s impossible to overstate just how much fun this car is.

What’s in a name?

Back in 2017, Audi announced it would change the way it named its vehicle variants. Previously, The A3 30 TFSI had been known as the A3 110 TFSI. Audi has progressively introduced the naming change, with the change coming to the A3 for this year’s update. Audi describes it like this: “Audi has created sub-classifications within the range based on performance levels, each identified by a two-numeral combination. For example, the numeral combination “30” will appear on the rear of all models with power outputs of between 81 and 96kW. And “45” represents power outputs of between 169 and 185 kW (230PS and 252PS). In each case, the numerals appear along with the engine technology indicator – TFSI, TDI, g-tron or e-tron”.

So, as far as the A3 is concerned, 35 TFSI COD means the thing has 110kW/250Nm with cylinder on demand, while the 40 TFSI models produce 140kW and 320Nm of torque. Clear as mud?

What safety features does it get?

The Audi A3 carries the same five-star ANCAP rating it received in 2014 but updates over the years have seen the standard safety features much improved. This includes the addition of active safety, like active lane assist and Audi pre-sense front with predictive pedestrian protection, and traffic jam assist which works together with Audi adaptive cruise control (ACC), featuring a stop & go function that accelerates and brakes autonomously to regulate the speed and distance from the vehicle in front.  All variants in the A3 range come standard with city-based autonomous emergency braking (meaning it will bring you to a complete stop at up to 65km/h), traction and stability controls, seven airbags, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors and more. High-speed autonomous emergency braking, auto high-beam headlights and lane-keep assist are available as cost options across the range.

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