At first glance, the Audi A3 seems no different from its predecessor. You have doubts investing thousands of pounds into something that doesn’t appear too new; what’s the point when you’re content with the current Audi A3. Looking closer, however, you find that the latest platform has introduced significant changes, along with vast improvements to the engine. But how far do these changes measure up in terms of performance, design, comfort, and value?
The third-generation Audi A3 introduces the MQB, a lightweight, ultra-flexible, part high strength steel, part aluminum modular platform that is improving all of VW’s brands. The MQB in the third gen model is not just a fancy new introduction, but lightens the model’s load in terms of structural weight, while freeing up interior space and enhancing the car’s safety against crashes. In terms of performance, the model introduces three states of suspension tune: the S-Line, standard, and sport.
The Audi A3’s 2.0-litre TDI motor impresses in all aspects. Unlike typical petrol engines that cost you for faster fuel consumption, low torque limitations, carbon dioxide emissions, and range, this model’s 2.0-litre diesel can reach 62mph in just 8.6 seconds. The motor also impresses with its refined torque but tends to be noisy at a 5000rpm top end. As for the petrol engines, the 1.4-litre TFSI and 1.8-litre TFSI, the former offers a 200Nm pulling power to a six-speed manual gearbox. This standard six speed manual gearbox is so slick that it makes a smooth driving experience a necessary part of the experience. The latter can gain a 62 mph velocity in just 7.3 seconds. Its top speed is at 144 mph to the seven-speed S Tronic automatic gearbox.
In terms of refinement, all models offer a steady cruise with a little wind noise along the door mirrors. When selecting wheel size, make sure it is ample so that the road noise isn’t too deafening. Manual gearshift is slick in performance, with the weighted clutch and brake pedals boasting of quality engineering.
Practicality is another plus of the Audi A3. If the rear seats are out, the Sportback can store up to 380 litres. When the rear seats are folded, the boot space reaches up to 1,220 litres. Compared to its other rivals, the A3 Sportback boasts of the largest storage space. Even the glove box and door pockets offer enough storage size.
The Audi A3's spacious interior, however, is only maintained at the front. Rear passengers will experience slight discomfort. It's also a compromise between having more boot space or being able to take back seat passengers. The 365 litre boot used to be competitive in the market, but its current design has made it fall short in keeping up with other brands.
As for the Audi A3 and its performance, the 2-litre diesel is said to be 44bhp more powerful. But its actual performance goes 5.4 less miles per diesel tank. The 2-litre also claims to reach 62mph in 8.6 seconds, but the tested result was 8.9 seconds.
The standard six speed manual gearbox is the better option over the optional double clutch S-tronic auto. The latter is much costlier (think four figures). The expenses don't end there: the S-tronic will also increase your tax disc costs and further your fuel consumption. Shifting in manual mode also isn't very smooth; you'll get more bang out of your buck with the default option.
Although Audi was able to address the previous generation's dynamic weaknesses, the vehicle continues to be not so fun to drive despite the better body control and improved accuracy. Stability is given more attention over agility; loyalists after handling may not like the prioritization of ride. You can drive the Audi A3 fast but the joy can only last for so long. The chassis still requires some adjustment during throttle. The steering also doesn't offer enough feel.
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