Given the full LED headlamps, the massive hexagonal grille and those taut shoulder lines, you might think you are looking at Audi’s new A4 here, when in fact this is the noticeably more affordable A3 which has been comprehensively updated for 2017. Armed with Audi’s latest design language, improved feature list and a new petrol motor, the 2017 A3 makes for an attractive proposition. Here’s what has changed and how.
The 2017 A3 is essentially a facelift of the outgoing model and in typical Audi fashion, the design upgrades are fairly limited. For starters, this baby luxury sedan now comes with the same single frame grille as the A4. Also new are the full LED headlights (featuring the same kink as the new A4) and the taillights with dynamic turn indicators. Together with the restyled front and rear bumpers, these updates do a good job of reviving the A3 which has been around for quite some time now. Overall, the 2017 A3 looks modestly attractive and is really well proportioned.
When you look at it, the A3’s cabin seems a little conservative, especially after the boldly styled interiors of its arch rival – the Mercedes CLA. Nonetheless, the interior remains thoroughly premium, with lovely black textures, plush leather and good quality materials. Audi has retained the all-black wraparound dash design with horizontal lines which heighten the sense of width.
Given that it’s a facelift, Audi hasn’t made any upgrades when it comes to seat comfort or interior packaging. As a result, the 2017 model is just as driver-oriented as the outgoing car. Upfront there is more than enough shoulder support and good cushioning. The under thigh support, too, is commendable. Like the outgoing model, this new A3 falls short of being a proper chauffeur driven premium car. While the rear seat itself is well layered with good contours for two adults, there isn’t much legroom on offer. That said the A3 beats the Mercedes CLA which is worse still and feels claustrophobic at the rear because of its tiny rear windows and huge front seatbacks.
The boot capacity is rated at 425-litres which is big enough for outstation trips and the fact that, the space saver spare tyre is neatly tucked away makes it more practical than the CLA which houses its wheel over the boot floor.
For 2017 Audi has introduced wireless phone charging function and full LED headlights as all-new features. Meanwhile, the top-spec variants also get dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, panoramic sunroof, front and rear parking sensors and a 7-inch retractable screen for the MMI infotainment system. Features like start/stop button and keyless entry, however, have been given a miss.
The 2017 A3 comes with a choice of two power-plants – a 1.4-litre TFSI turbo petrol and the familiar 2-litre TDI diesel. Whereas the former is paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox, the more efficient diesel works in conjunction with a 6-speeder – also a dual clutch unit.
Starting with the petrol variant, Audi has replaced the old 1.8-litre TFSI unit in favour of this 1.4-litre motor which makes 150bhp and 250Nm of torque between 1,500 and 3,000rpm. Unlike its competition, the petrol powered A3 comes with cylinder-on-demand tech, which shuts down two of the four cylinders when you’re just pottering around. Then, as you floor it, all four cylinders fire up for maximum thrust.
Within city limits, the motor is surprisingly brisk, pulling strongly from around 2,000rpm. But despite making as much torque as the 1.8-litre unit, the new A3 doesn’t pull as hard as the older car. Where the 1.8-litre motor pushed you back in your seat, the 1.4-litre motor feels more linear and laidback in the way it goes about its business. As for refinement, the new A3 offers impressively low NVH, with a near silent idle and staying composed till about 4000rpm. Its only near the redline that the motor gets a bit loud. The 7-speed gearbox is undoubtedly quicker to respond than the competition and teamed with this engine’s eager power delivery, the surge of acceleration is addictive. The only downside to the gearbox is the jerky low speed behaviour and delay in response as you floor the throttle.
The 2-litre diesel continues to offer strong mid-range punch. It may be a little noisy when worked hard but it never feels vibey or harsh. Like in the older car, there is more than sufficient pulling power, all of which is efficiently transferred to the road via a 6-speed dual clutch automatic. Like its petrol-powered counterpart, gearshifts are rapid and smooth on the go but the overall response is a little jerky at crawling speeds.
Dynamically, the A3 has always been sorted and the 2017 model is no exception. The steering is direct, there is loads of grip and the A3 always feels predictable. Although there is some body roll as you push the car in corners it stays composed and never feels unnerving. The ride quality of this Audi impresses even more. Riding on fairly high profile tyres, it’s suspension ably deals with rough roads, and the whole car remains well planted – something not all similarly priced sedans can claim.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||150bhp @5100RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||250Nm @1250RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||50|
|MMI infotainment system||Yes|
|Wireless mobile charging||Yes|
|Full LED headlights||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Variant||200 Sport||35 TFSI|
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||183bhp @ 5500RPM||150bhp @5100RPM|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||300Nm @1200RPM||250Nm @1250RPM|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||56||50|
|Tyre size||225/45 R17||205/55R17|
If quality, badge value and driving dynamics top your list of preferences in your next entry-level luxury car, chances are the 2017 A3 is on your shortlist. The car, in fact, has a lot going for it, be it the brilliant ride and handling balance, the well-appointed interior and the mini-A4 like styling. Sure, Audi could have outdone themselves by offering more tech like the virtual cockpit and driving modes as standard.
The 2017 A3 is still a worthy small luxury car option, and one deserving of more sales than what the outgoing model currently gets. Price wise, we expected it to carry a premium of around Rs 1-1.2 lakh over the current car which retails between Rs 27.10 lakh and Rs 35.60 lakh (ex-showroom).
Pictures By : Ameya Dandekar