Audi A3 Review: First Impression
It sounds very repetitive but then it is as true as it sounds because Audi still manages to be India’s leading premium car maker. While the other two have been upshifting their line-ups, Audi on the other hand continues to propel ahead in terms of sales.
Eyeing the premium entry level sedan market, the German car manufacturer is all set to launch their compact luxury sedan A3 in India. Presently, there are no contenders in this segment and the A3 will clearly have a pioneering advantage.
It may sit at the beginning of the portfolio but boasts of technology which is more advanced than that used in A4. Shares some features with the premium A6 as well. Do they have a winner already? How does the baby Audi fair on desi roads? We find in our first impression report.
It starts with the single frame radiator grille which is a trademark design feature on all Audis. They made sure the A3 looks in sync with their other portfolio models. To make it look athletic, there are sharp lines all over the body.
Bi-Xenon headlamps with arrow head day time running lamps will feature on every variant except for the base line trim which like the Q3S will sport conventional lamps. All the character lines originate from the radiator grille and flow outwards along the length. The narrowing hood line, the chiselled bumper contour all meet around the grille giving it a pronounced front look. The front bumper has a wider opening and is split with a rib line across it.
It being the Sport line package came with extra bits with side skirts and trendy alloys. I personally loved the proportions of front and rear overhang. They look balanced. The coupe like roof line flows neatly over the C pillar before merging with the short boot lid. The A3 also gets a panoramic sunroof which even the A6 doesn’t offer.
A strong shoulder line and a characteristic wedge line on the side profile make the A3 look dynamic even in static position. The 5 spoke 17” alloys on the sport line look very upmarket while that on the base line with multiple spokes look functional.
It is the signature style taillights which one notices while following an Audi. To distinguish it from its bigger siblings, the taillights have got narrowed on the A3. With its criss-cross styled matte lines inside the taillights, they manage to look impressively different from other portfolio models. Integrated boot lip spoiler, which is a standard, is again a modern touch to the rear.
The A3 will also be the first Audi in India to feature the modern model nomenclature which is 35TDI for diesel and 40TFSI for petrol. They have been derived from a complex calculation taking into account the overall performance of the vehicle along with earth’s gravitational pull. The greater the number, the faster is the car.
The fit and finish of this baby Audi matches its more premium offerings. The build quality is strong and the trims and leather fit too are impressive. It is not a car which the chauffer driven would prefer and instead it is targeted to the self driven clientele.
Since we had settled for the top end variant for out test drive, the cabin came loaded with gadgets. The equipment list inside the A3 does not make it feel like an entry level sedan for real. To boast of some, it gets a 7” retractable slim infotainment screen. Then there is the Audi famous MMI navigation plus with MMI touch. In addition, it also gets automatic climate control, panoramic sunroof, electrically adjustable front seats and a 20GB jukebox with 2 SD cards.
Love the theme and feel of the cabin with familiar patterns and features. It does not feel as crowded as the A Class because the layout of all the controls is simple and clean. The front dashboard has a strong built but then there is one thing that did not click well with me. It is the circular AC vents. They are high on functionality as the concentration and the direction of the air flow can be controlled with the spot diffuser but in terms of design, they stick out from the overall straight line pattern.
But then shadowing it is the 7” retractable screen which offers an array of controls to play with. It is controlled with the help of the MMI touch and the joystick controller mounted on the central console. The traditional four buttons to navigate through the screen remain unchanged but there is an addition of two extra switches on them. The parking brake switch along with the Auto start stop button is located right behind the joystick controller.
Both row seats are reasonably comfortable with decent headroom. Front row passengers enjoy more room compared to the rear row, who have to manage with just enough room avoiding scrapping their knees against the front seats. I will still not hold it against the A3 because it is primarily a driver centric compact sedan. The rear row passengers do get their share of conveniences like the rear AC vents, well cushioned seats with proper lumbar and under thigh support and convenient storage options on the door trim. It gets 425 litres of boot space.
We had driven this engine earlier and had an idea about it featuring in the Audi A3. In case you are wondering about the earlier drive, it was the new generation Skoda Octavia. The A3 will be available in petrol and diesel engines with a 7-speed S Tronic and 6-speed S tronic transmission respectively.
The petrol engine would get picked by enthusiasts and the diesel will bring in real numbers for the company. We got ourselves the 35TDI variant for our first drive leaving the 40TFSI variant for another day. A 2-litre diesel engine producing 143Hp of power and 320Nm of torque with a 6 speed S tronic transmission surely reads impressive but then does it feel as impressive?
Without beating around the bush for long, this Audi A3 means business when it comes to performance. Since this unit has been tried and tested in the Octavia, we knew it the same would have great advantages in the A3 because it is based on the modern MQB platform along with its compact dimensions giving it an edge over the bigger A4.
The S Tronic transmission offers similar drive options but there are no suspension mode settings as seen on other Audis. The engine picks up speed as soon as the throttle is engaged without any possible lag. The best aspect of this diesel unit is it has a swift response and does not waste a minute to build the initial momentum. In the sports shift mode, the engine holds on to the power band for a longer duration before downshifting to the next gear.
The engine response is simply amazing at every gear. Even at coasting speeds, just a hard squeeze on the throttle and the engine starts delivering each bit of 320Nm making the tacho needle jump the redline limit. Power delivery is linear but the torque makes up for it with its punchy response.
The suspension settings have been kept on the softer side. Their entire strength of making sure the cabin remains disconnected to undulations work really well. The lightweight body of the A3 with its modern construction makes it extremely agile around the corners too. Credit for that behaviour goes the electronic limited slip differential.
The A3 handles high speeds around corners with great confidence. We reached a maximum speed of 210km/h on an empty stretch. Its handling, suspension and engine response were truly impressive. We also need to compliment its braking potential which offers a great bite on both front and rear discs.
We got the A3 to a standstill from speeds of 120km/h and it barely took any distance before coming to a complete halt. Audi claims the A3 can do a 0 – 100 km/h drag in 8.6 seconds which is 2 seconds less than the Mercedes Benz A-Class despite the latter being a hatch. The A-Class has a bigger displacement engine and hence heavier too. When launched, the A3 will be the most fuel efficient sedan in its segment at 20.38 kmpl.
|Variant||35TDI S tronic|
|Price||To Be Announced|
|Power in PS/RPM||143 / 3500-4000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||320 / 1750 - 3000|
|Gears||6 Speed S-Tronic|
|Wheel base mm||2637|
|Fuel tank capacity L||50|
|Tyre Spec||205/55 R16|
|Features||35TDI S tronic|
|MMI Navigation plus with MMI Touch||Yes|
|MMI 7 inch retractable Display||Yes|
|Deluxe Automatic Dual Zone with AC||Yes|
|Turbine AC Vents||Yes|
|Reverse Parking with Rear view camera||Yes|
|S Line Exterior Package||Yes|
|Milano Leather Upholstery||Yes|
|Xenon Headlights with LED DRLs||Yes|
|LED interior light package||Yes|
|Audi Sound System||Yes|
|Audi Music Interface||Yes|
|20GB Juke Box with 2 SD card slots||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||35TDI S tronic||A180 CDI Style||2.0 TDI CR AT|
|Price (Ex Showroom Delhi)||To Be Announced||22,73,000||2,025,085|
|Power in PS/RPM||143 / 3500-4000||109 / 5000||143 / 4000|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||320 / 1750 - 3000||250 / 1400||320 / 1750 - 3000|
|Gears||6 Speed S-Tronic||7 Speed Automatic||6-speed, DSG|
|Wheel base mm||2637||2699||2688|
|Fuel tank capacity L||50||50||50|
|Tyre Spec||205/55 R16||225 / 45 R17||205 / 55 R16|
Audi A3 will be targeted against four types of customers. Firstly, for those who are looking for a second premium car and are already a part of the niche car club. Secondly, owns a premium SUV in the likes of Honda CRV and Hyundai Santa Fe and plans to upgrade to a premium offering. Third category consists of customers who want to upgrade from D+ luxury sedans and the fourth is against existing cars at a similar price point like the Mercedes Benz A Class and BMW 1 Series.
It should not be too difficult to guess the prices especially since the A3 will begin the German portfolio in India. The Q3S, which is a no frills front wheel drive manual transmission SUV, is priced at Rs. 24,97,000 (Ex-Showroom Mumbai). Audi, being the aggressive car maker it is, can drop a bomb by launching a plane jane version of A3 sans glossy features at a price of sub Rs.25 lakhs while the feature rich version will go all the way upto Rs.30 lakhs.
The A3 will clearly be a popular car in this price range because of a sporty design, features offered combined with its impressive performance. Audi A3 will be officially launched in India on 7th August 2014.