The A3 has been the most affordable Audi in the country. It was the ticket for many aspirational buyers who wanted to buy a luxury car. The car was first launched in 2014 but later came some competition in the form of Mercedes CLA. So the refreshed button was pressed, and a lot was done to the A3 to make it more appealing. The German car maker on most of its cars has been able to achieve a design that is modern yet simple and the new A3 also subscribes to that. If the intention was to bring it closer to the A4, that has certainly been achieved, the car surely looks sportier than before.
Lots of exterior changes have been done on the car. Both the front and rear bumpers have been redesigned and a nice single frame grille sits in the centre.
Lot of exterior changes have been done on the car. Both the front and rear bumpers have been redesigned and a nice single frame grille sits in the centre. The headlamps have daytime running lights but the unconventional design really makes it look different. The rear also sees a new tail lamp cluster that come with LED lights. And then there are the dynamic turn indicators which have been a highlight on a lot of Audi cars. The small spoiler is a good feature on the car, looks nice and proves its functionality as well. Short overhangs and long wheelbase are very evident for a sporty stance. Unlike earlier when the car came in both 16 inch and 17-inch wheel options the new A3 only has 16 inch wheels, that just means a better ride quality. Overall the proportions are spot, maybe a shade better than the CLA.
Audi is calling the interiors spacious yet sophisticated. There’s good quality here and the car feels premium despite being affordable. The seats get milano leather and the wraparound dash gets a retractable screen infotainment screen. The Rotary AC vents look unique and the multi functional steering is good to use. While Audi has come up with a wireless charging here, one of the biggest disappointments is the absence of a start stop button. It’s something that is now seen on most basic cars so the luxury car buyer will want it, at least when he’s on the driver’s seat. What’s also not there is the much hyped virtual cockpit that really charmed a lot of enthusiasts in the recently launched A4. It also misses out on being compatible with Apple car play and Android auto, again something seen on much smaller and cheaper cars. However, if you’re in the A3 for the rear seat comfort you will not be disappointed. The seats are comfortable, the cabin is roomy and there’s ample leg space. The center arm rest and the AC vents add to the convenience, and overall when it comes to the rear seat the A3 does score over the CLA. Where the A3 also beats the CLA is in terms of boot space as it gets a full 425 lire boot with the spare tyre not eating up any part of that space.
Like was the case earlier the A3 continues to get both Petrol and Diesel options. But there is a significant change here. Instead of the 184 bhp 1.8 litre petrol engine the car ran on earlier, Audi has now decided to put the 150 bhp 1.4 liter mill. A 7 speed dual clutch gearbox is used here and despite the lesser power, the engine responds well. This engine can do a very capable 0-100 kmph speed in just over 8 seconds and a top speed of over 200 kmph are pretty realistic on the car. A good amount of torque is available post 2000 rpm so mid-range is where you’ll enjoy the A3 the most. The gearbox can be a bit more responsive initially it more than makes up for it in higher speeds. But what you really miss is the paddle shift which is a bit strange as it was present in the earlier car. The Diesel at 143 bhp is less powerful but the good thing is that Audi is promising a good mileage of around 19-20kmpl on both these engines.
Ride & Handling
Audi also has worked on the NVH levels and the Diesel does feel quieter. The cabin is well insulated that the occupants get an almost silent drive. The ride has surely got better with the new Bridgestone 16 inch wheels and you feel it. The ability to deal with bad patches is very impressive. However, what you also feel is because of that the handling isn’t the same, as there’s a bit more body roll than earlier. There’s a very practical feature called cylinder on demand, where only 2 of the 4 cylinders can be used to run the car to get a slightly better fuel efficiency, if of course you’re ready to compromise with some performance.
Along with going with the tag of being an entry level luxury sedan, Audi is also promising good fuel efficiency and usability along with a great design on the A3. Probably presence of different drive modes may have helped matters a bit more. 7 airbags are a great feature and all we need to know now is the price, which if stays around 27 lakh rupees as was the case earlier, will be a great to boost the sales of the car. The launch is not too far away.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars