Entry-level offerings are otherwise boring and dull and just manage to satisfy the quintessentials but there are some which are quite the opposite. We are talking of the Audi A3, the German’s answer to the fellow countrymen’s Mercedes-Benz CLA.
The images below might confuse you for any other Audi but mind you the Audi A3 is one of the most exciting sedans that we have ever driven. Based on the MQB front drive-architecture, the A3 has already been a global hit. In india too, the Audi A3 has been received rather well and was instrumental in contributing to the brand’s staggering sales in its launch year.
What makes the Audi A3 so impressive? We tell you in our drive report.
Audi A3 40TFSI design
The Audi A3 does share a lot of design attributes from its elder siblings but still it manages to look distinct. The sharper front profile, thanks to the busy lines of the Bi-Xenon headlamps with day time running lights merging together into the grille. The pronounced single-frame grille looks smart and sports an aluminium finish. There is a gentle hint of performance a seen with the chiselled bumpers and crease lines running on the overall profile. I liked the low slung profile of the side and that is because of the way the lines run along the length. Adding to that are the 17-inch five spoke alloys which look smart and are offered as standard on the 40TFSI.
The tail section has been kept compact but still doesn’t like as if a boot has been slapped just for the sake of it. In fact, the Audi A3 has a more impressive tail section than some of the other cars in the portfolio. The all-LED tailights, lip spoiler and the twin exhaust pipes done in chrome neatly tucked under the rear bumper give the necessary styling quotient. The subtle yet sophisticated looks of the Audi A3 does a great job among its target audience.
Audi A3 40TFSI interior
The design and the layout of the cabin feel different and that is for the new turbine styled air con vents. Initially, it did take some time to accept the shape of the vents as Audi’s have always sported straight lines and square sections. And now there are round vents. But saying that this unit also features an air diffuser that can be pointed in any direction. The amount of air flow can also be controlled by twisting the chrome rings around it. Both of which are unique and useful.
Next in is the 7-inch retractable infotainment MMI screen. When in use, the screen rises from the central portion of the dashboard and then subsides into it again when switched off, making the dashboard feel more airy. However, the same is not the case with the screen in the Mercedes-Benz CLA Class which sits like a stubborn kid. Then there is the on-board 20GB storage space which is one of the premium features that has been brought to the Audi A3. The entertainment system can be paired to Bluetooth telephony, USB as well as Aux-In. The only missing bit is an infotainment system that supports Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto. Bring it on Audi..will you?
The Audi A3 is a more practical offering over a hatchback with a boot and more space in the rear section. There is enough area for front occupants and the seats offer generous level of comfort and support with sufficient bolstering. The rear seats are still not a very dear place to be in as the space offered is tight. Taller passengers have to be on a constant look out to make sure their knees don’t run with front seats. That is because the Audi A3 is for the front seat occupants primarily who would use the rear bench for luggage and kids or occupants occasionally.
Audi A3 40TFSI Performance
Powering the 40TFSI is a familiar 1.8-liter petrol engine, which is also seen in the Skoda Octavia however, the one in A3 feels young and zesty compared to the family sedan puller. This unit makes a healthy 250Nm of torque from as little as 1250 rpm. Unlike the diesel, which feels a bit lazy before it builds those torque numbers, the TFSI often wants to be revved hard. They have made one zippy, fast performance sedan which otherwise would do its share of rubber burning on a track but prefers to stay planted and offer as much enthusiasm on normal streets.
Take it around corners at higher speeds and the body chooses to maintain its stance in sync with the turning lines. I wouldn’t think twice before calling it a better handler than the A4.
Not just compact dimensions but also enough punch from the heart to back it up in confidence. The dual clutch seven-speed gearbox works at tandem and its precision is exemplary. The advantage of this gearbox is once you have engaged a particular gear; the other is waiting to be activated thus reducing the intermittent shift timings. We did miss the playful shifter pedals behind the steering wheel as the manual option is on the stick itself.
We drove in the D-mode in city traffic and the engine felt peppy enough to take it bravely. Shift it to S and this otherwise matured being changed into a rebellious character. It makes you wonder if this is just a premium sedan or a performance car and truly it manages to endorse the latter with great attitude. In the S-mode, the engine holds on to its free revving speeds making it redline till the last drop of power is squeezed out. All this without any stress as the next gear is up and ready to fire it up even further.
With more character in engine performance, the suspensions too don’t lose out on making the car feel a lot more agile. They are inclined towards being stiffer than normal as a result even a sudden manoeuvre doesn’t create an imbalance of any sort. Also, in addition to that, the suspensions manage to disconnect the body from irregular road surfaces unlike other cars with a stiffer setup.
Audi A3 40TFSI Verdict
The A3 40TFSI is available at a more dearly premium than the A-Class and the 1-Series but then don’t expect a Champaign for lemonade’s worth. Firstly, its sheer dimensions speak volumes about it. It sits at the beginning of the portfolio but the level of equipment and features offered.
Interestingly, the A3 is targeted more towards first time young buyers, the self driven generation, who don’t spend much time eyeing the interiors and prefer to drive around with loads of zeal. A 1.8-litre engine backed by a stellar precise dual clutch box and zesty turbo spitting out 180hp makes it an enthusiast’s choice for sure.