2014 Audi A3 40TFSI Review
A common perception about entry level cars is that even though they are reasonable and practical, they aren’t any fun to drive. They just get you an entry ticket to the luxury club. We did agree to this and advocated the same till this compact sharp looking sedan appeared from nowhere.
What you are looking at is much more than just a fast Audi. It is the youngest of the lot, seriously minds being compared to its siblings and demands all your attention. The A3, which is the only sedan in its class, has already got the ball rolling with a fantastic response post its launch. The company has also become the first luxury car manufacturer to cross the 10,000 sales mark for 2014 in India.
Taking advantage of the modern MQB front-drive architecture, Audi’s sedan spun over the hatch seems to have worked all over. Should we be already calling the A3 the best compact sedan in the world? We reveal...
Don’t be judgemental about this young Mister. Yes, it is ‘similar’ with certain family cues but take a closer look and you would agree that the A3 is more attractive than its other siblings as the lines and features on this one are more prominent and definite.
Stream lined lights with a well defined multi slats radiator grille. The 40TFSI is offered in Premium Plus only and thus Bi-Xenon headlamps with day time running lights form a part of standard equipment. The longish hood gets creases on its sides to make sure every bit of air is cut properly lowering resistance against it. Front bumper gets wide air scoops with a splitter chiselled underneath.
A wedged line makes the extreme ends of its length meet in unison. The B-pillar along with the quarter panel is neatly blackened, revealing only the upper outline with a more stretched than normal end pillar. The 40TFSI also gets 17-inch five spoke alloys as standard fitment being sportier than other trims.
The boot lid is short and crisp with dropping shoulder line. All LED tail-lamps with intricate detailing make them the best looking in the entire line-up. Similar to other versions, there are twin exhaust pipes done in chrome neatly tucked under the rear bumper. Audi’s efforts of making the young A3 look compact, stylish and modern at the same time uniquely familiar is commendable. There is a certain level of sophistication which the A3 endorses in style.
They made the interiors more engaging making it feel top notch. Build quality is tough and trims feel strong but when did Germans make anything otherwise. They feel the usual Audi with new introductions in shape and style which include the bond style retractable MMI Screen.
The only bits which I need time to accept are the turbine styled air con vents. They somehow don’t match with the otherwise straights and squares. Leaving that to a subjective choice, one can’t deny its merits. The air diffuser can be pointed to a particular direction. The amount of air flow can also be controlled by twisting the chrome rings around it. Both of which are unique and useful.
The 7” retractable slim infotainment MMI screen gets all my votes for being the coolest feature as it smoothly rises from the dashboard and descends gently inside in just one touch. If the screen is not enough, then 20GB worth of on-board storage space surely will keep you engaged. Pair your phone, listen to music via USB/Aux-in or even use Bluetooth telephony, the list of features in this baby Audi are as good as the ones seen on higher models. All part of Audi’s top down strategy to make the consumers feel uncompromised.
The 40TFSI has an all black interiors with leather clad seats. Both front row seats can be power adjusted to desired position. There is enough area for front occupants and the seats offer generous level of comfort and support with sufficient bolstering. They will prove to be fatigue free be it on long trips or short city outings.
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. Deal breaker? No...Not really. The have made this one for the young and self driven ones, while the rear seats need not have passengers at all. In case one still insists to sit behind, especially for them kinds, Audi has a business line battle ship called the A6...for a few dollars more.
When it comes to entry level premium cars with great handling, BMW 1-series is the best followed by the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. With such strong benchmarks, the A3 had to prove a point rather a tough mark against them. It uses a modern front wheel drive system. They have got the infrastructure right and also paced up the heart at a mighty 180hp, which would keep the other two gasping for air.
Powering the 40TFSI is a familiar 1.8-liter petrol engine, which also hauls the new 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.
While you make a list of cars that handle well, the A3 will surely find its way somewhere on the top as it feels too nimble and agile. Saying that, 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.
In D-mode, the A3 is at its ideal best where it behaves like a scholar who knows it all. 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 changes 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.
|Power in PS/RPM||180 /5100-6200|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||250 / 1250-5000|
|Gears||7-speed S tronic|
|Wheel base mm||2637|
|Fuel tank capacity L||50|
|Tyre Spec||205 / 55 R17|
|R17” alloy wheels||Yes|
|High gloss package||Yes|
|Exterior mirrors, electrically adjustable, heated and electrically folding||Yes|
|Automatic Headlight Range Adjustment||Yes|
|S-Line Exterior Package||Yes|
|Inlays in 3D-look Aluminium||Yes|
|Door Sill Trims with S Line logo||Yes|
|Folding rear seat back||Yes|
|Smoking package front||Yes|
|Parking aid plus||Yes|
|Delux automatic air conditioning with sun sensor||Yes|
|Front center armrest||Yes|
|Driver information system||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||40 TFSI||A180 Sport||116i Prestige|
|Price (Ex Showroom Delhi)||Rs. 3,005,000||Rs. 2,656,200||Rs. 2,265,000|
|Power in hp/RPM||180 /5100-6200||122 / 3200||136 / 4400|
|Torque in Nm/RPM||250 / 1250-5000||200 / 1250||220 / 1350|
|Gears||7-DCT||7-G Speedshift||8-Speed Steptronic|
|Wheel base mm||2637||2699||2690|
|Fuel tank capacity L||50||50||52|
|Tyre Spec||205 / 55 R17||225 / 45 R17||205 / 55 R16|
The A3 40TFSI is available at Rs.30 lakhs (ex-showroom) making it more dearly 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. It sits at the beginning of the portfolio but the level of equipment and features offered make it a equally strong product at par with its siblings.
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. Also, if you like driving with the wind flowing through your air, the A3 Cabriolet will make sure it tantalizes all your spirited senses. Till then we search for a long piece of scenic tarmac road to test the roofless Cabrio. :)