The Audi A3 is popular, Audi has already built more than five million of them. Can the new A3 continue its success? AutoRAI.nl will find out.
A hatchback from a German premium brand, you would say there is nothing strange about that. That was different over twenty years ago. In 1996, Audi was the first German luxury car manufacturer to venture into a compact mid-sized car. It turned out to be a smart move. The A3 was a success and BMW soon gave chase with the 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz later with the A-Class.
The A3 is now in its fourth generation. From a distance it doesn’t look very different from the previous generation, but looks can be deceiving. Up close you see a lot of changes, but you have to look for it.
Audi A3 model
The A3 has been updated on all fronts and looks sportier than ever. Everywhere you look you see clean lines that give the feeling that the car is in motion, while it is still stationary.
The car is slightly longer and lower, which is actually a simple way to make the car look more sporty. The grille is also lowered, making the nose even more aggressive. The grille is also wider, because BMW is not the only German brand that can design a large eye-catching grille. Between the hood and the front bumper we come across the well-known letterbox slot, inspired by the Audi Quattro from the 1980s.
The rear has also been sharpened considerably. Our eye immediately falls on the spoiler, it is large! That turns out to be correct, it is twice as big as the spoiler of the outgoing model. The trunk has not doubled in size, it is unchanged. So there is still room for 380 liters of luggage space, 1200 liters if the bank goes flat.
Audi spacious design
Audi has also left the wheelbase the same. Fortunately, because that means a lot of interior space. There is ample head and legroom both front and rear. We test the extra sporty S-Edition, in which two sports seats have been placed. They keep you neatly in place, but also offer sufficient comfort during a longer ride.
In the back you are also good, although the edge of the roof is a bit inward. As a result, the car looks sporty from the outside, but you quickly sit with your head against the side.
Getting into the back is now always easy in the A3, because it only comes as a Sportback (5-door). That means that after three generations, the curtain has fallen for the 3-door variant. The sedan version of the A3 is still very much alive: the A3 Limousine.
Just like with the new Volkswagen Golf, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia – three models with which this Audi shares the platform – there are also few physical buttons in the interior in the Audi.
You have to make do with two screens: the virtual cockpit behind the wheel and a large touchscreen in the middle. The infotainment system responds very quickly, but it is sometimes a bit of a search. As a result, we have to take our eyes off the road more often than we would like.
We can’t blame Audi entirely, buttons are simply out of fashion. Still, a small round rotary knob in the center console – as with the previous model – would have been useful.
Fortunately, there are a number of physical buttons on the steering wheel, and of course you also come a long way with voice control. There are still a few keys under the screen, with which you can directly operate the climate control.
Just like the outside, the inside of Audi also looks a bit sportier. All the round shapes that were present on the dashboard of the previous A3 are gone. Everywhere you look you now see clean lines. The highlight is the two extremely tight ventilation grilles next to the instruments. They look like they were plucked straight from Lamborghini and really make you feel like you are in the cockpit of a supercar.
The materials used in the interior are of course of a level that you can expect in an Audi. Everything feels extremely solid and there are many soft materials. Yet in a number of places we come across more hard plastic than we expected, but we can live with it.
Audi 35 TFSI powertrain
Our test car is equipped with a 35 TFSI powertrain. That is, a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with 150 hp (110 kW). We can change gears ourselves, with a six-speed gearbox. A seven-speed S Tronic automatic transmission is also available. Just like a 110 hp three-cylinder petrol engine with 110 hp (30 TFSI). Diesels are also possible with two 2.0-liter engines with 116 or 150 hp.
The 35 TFSI powertrain has quite a bit of oomph. Both at the traffic light and when accelerating at higher speeds, he picks up a lot. The powertrain is also in other Volkswagen AG models – such as the Seat Leon recently tested by us – yet it feels a bit spicier in the Audi.
‘Our’ S-Edition is equipped with a sports suspension, so that we can easily take a bend at speed. The 19-inch wheels – the A3 is standard at 16-inch – are tough, but the rubber also has a surprising amount of grip in the corners. In combination with the 150 hp power source, we enjoy ourselves wonderfully behind the wheel. Meanwhile, we still chuckle at Aventador-esque air vents, it completes the sporty driving experience.
Cost Audi A3
The Audi A3 is available from 34,370 euros. This concerns the 110 hp strong 30 TFSI powertrain with manual gearbox. The 150 hp 35 TFSI version with manual gearbox is available from 36,820 euros. This makes the A3 by far the most expensive of the Volkswagen AG quartet. Both the Leon, Octavia and Golf start from over 25 grand.
In addition, Audi is not averse to options, so the price quickly rises if you check a lot. The A3 Sportback S Edition 35 TFSI with manual gearbox that we drive has a price tag of 40,820 euros.