Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld
2019 Audi A3
This week we are reviewing the Audi A3 Comfort TFSI 45. Our vehicle was assembled at the Ingolstadt plant in Germany and has an MSRP of $39300.00 CAD.
Fun Factor: 9
Can it Family: 6
City Cruising: 6
After reviewing the VW GTI late last year and finding out the price difference between both models was a mere $350.00 CAD, we could not emphasize enough how much the Audi A3 was a deal. Both are propelled by a 2.0L Turbo 4 cylinder making 228hp and deliver a max torque figure of 258 lb-ft of torque. The main difference that would steer someone towards buying the A3 over the GTI is that the Audi A3 has four-wheel-drive. This gave the AUDI A3 an additional edge in our real-life acceleration test; we achieved 100km/h from a still stand in a whooping 5.95 seconds (announced 6.2) using all-season tires compared to the GTI's 6.95 seconds (announced 6.4 seconds) using performance tires. Not only does the A3 feel like a bargain compared to GTI, but it's also a bargain compared to the A-Class and BMW's 2-series. Yes, the 2-Series are a lot more fun to drive; if you want AWD drive or want more than 2 doors, all this increases the cost. The A-Class has a better-looking interior and offers more comfortable seats, however adding any options quickly raises the price of the A-Class. We drove all 3 entries in this segment and conclude that the A3 overall is the better value for your buck. The A3 driving dynamics are tuned towards comfort; the suspension smooths imperfections without hassle, even roads like those in we have in Montreal. The steering feels vague at low speeds and does firm up at higher speeds. The only dislike we had with the driving dynamic was during braking. The brake pedal feels disconnected and does not match the force input on the pedal. Only once the pedal is pressed beyond the 50% threshold does the braking system really start to react. Even with the refresh just around the corner, the A3 exterior styling has aged well and gives the Audi a more business look compared to BMW or even the Mercedes.
The Audi A3 can seat 5; when looking at the rear seats, you'll realize the door opening is quite small, and the head clearance to get in the car is quite low. Trying to get your mother in law sitting in the back may not be the most comfortable thing for her. Jokes aside, the rear seats are only really viable for kids on long journeys. There's a slight bump on the middle seat, and it's less cushioned than the other two, it hides additional cup holders and storage when used as a 4-seater. The outer rear seats have a similar level of coziness to the front seats. Front seats are quite comfortable additional bolstering would make them great. We found that the visibility was slightly obstructed for smaller drivers due to the placement of the infotainment. For taller drivers, this is less apparent, and overall visibility is adequate. The layout inside the cabin is minimalist, reducing any distraction; the panoramic roof makes the whole cabin feel bigger and airy even though its dark. The heated seats are standard, even in the base model we are testing, we have seen other premium brands charge extra to have heated front seats in 2020.
Fuel consumption of the Audi A3 impressed us quite a lot, especially on the HWY, where we achieved an impressive 6.2L/100km. In the city, we observed a fuel consumption of 10.6L/100km, and our average fuel consumption over a distance of 500km was 8.5L/100km. We used 91 octane fuel for our test because, generally, premium fuel is more suitable for Audi's, especially with the turbocharged engine. Audi recommends regular 87 octane unleaded as the minimum. The announced fuel consumption is 8.0L/100km on the HWY, 10.8L/100km in the city and combined fuel consumption of 9.5L per 100km. The CO2 emissions of the A3 are 224g/km making it one of the higher emission vehicles in its segment. The Mercedes A220 champion in this segment has CO2 emissions of 199 g/km followed closely by the Mercedes A250 with 201g/km and finally MINI Clubman S with 207g/km. The fact that the A3 uses regular gasoline versus premium gasoline when looking at other AWD vehicles in its segment may explain the higher emissions. We conducted our test while exterior temperatures oscillated between +16c and +2c.
On the HWY, the Audi A3 feels stable; as mentioned above, the driving dynamics are quite enjoyable. It feels sporty and has smooth handling. The base model we tested did not have some common security features such as blind-spot monitoring, lane keep assist, and collision avoidance. It's not unusual for luxury vehicles; in this case, it can be added for $550 or come standard with the Technik trim. The engine has enough umpf to gain speed, giving you the ability to overtake with ease. The only downside was the noise inside the cabin; it's quite high for a vehicle in the premium segment so much that we had a hard time carrying a conversation at 120km/h.
The base sound system in the A3 is decent enough for everyday use; however, we strongly suggest that audiophiles get the Bang & Olufsen Sound System. This system is only available in the Technik trim and unfortunately not offered as an option with base models. The infotainment supports both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the 7" screen in our variant can only be operated using the click wheel. In higher trims, this screen comes with a better resolution and touch functionality. We found that the system we tested was slow in certain instances, especially when in use with one of the smartphone integrations and, for some reason, would automatically turn off when the car drove below 30km/h. As soon as we accelerated above 30km/h, the screen would turn back on. We had to reset the system in 2 instances for it to work correctly for a car with such a low mileage we found this unacceptable.
Now the car seat installation comes with a couple of hurdles. The main one is that the door frame is smaller, making it a little more challenging to fit in large car seats. The positioning of the rear seats doesn't help as they are slightly forward; they are in the way, giving you the impression of playing a little puzzle each time you want to get a car seat in and out. Once the car seat is in place, things get a lot easier; the ISOFIX ports are hidden under a plastic cover that can be removed. Those ports can be accessed quickly, and we had no trouble latching and detaching different car seats. The rear anchor is slightly more difficult to reach for adults. The sloping roofline blocks the visibility from outside. The best way we found to attach it is to enter the vehicle from the other side and latch it from there. We were able to fit one large stroller in the trunk or as in the picture below a child's bike. Children will be able to get in the car without any help. The door handles are easy to grab, and the door itself is easy to open. The ease of use continues inside as the seatbelt and belt buckle can be operated without too much agility.
The Audi A3 is quite enjoyable to drive in the city; its compact size makes it the ideal contender to zip around town. Parking was easy breezy, even in smaller spots. The downside was the rear-view camera, which is quite pixelated; it made parking at night somewhat of guesswork. Luckily, the vehicle has sensors integrated in the front and rear bumpers to avoid any scratches. Those using the A3 mainly in the city will realize that in North America, no PHEV or a no MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle) is currently available. You will need to step up to the Q5 to have a PHEV variant or to the E-Tron if you are looking for a full-fledged electric vehicle. Most of the security features used in the city can either be added as options or, they come standard with the Technik trim.
Why would we buy the Audi A3, or what we liked about it? Enjoyable drivetrain for the size and price of the vehicle, being AWD, fuel-efficient on the HWY, sportier variant available for the enthusiast S3, RS3.
Why would we not buy the Audi A3, or what we did not like about it? Small rear seats, no more hatchback variant available, nor any PHEV variant for city dwellers.
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