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Car reviews - Audi - A3 - sedan 1.8 TFSI

Our Opinion

We like
Great mini-limo looks, big-car prestige features in a small package, refined cabin, great engine, impressive ride and handling
Room for improvement
Navigation, reversing camera and front parking sensors not standard

Audi logo25 Feb 2015

By RICHARD BERRY

Price and equipment

Sitting a rung above the entry variant in the A3 sedan range, the 1.8 TSFI Ambition has an asking price of $45,400, plus on road-costs.

While it’s one of the most affordable Audis on the market, it’s still packed full of great standard kit you’d find on higher-spec models. There’s 17-inch alloy wheels, fog-lights, light and rain sensor, leather sports seats up front, aluminium interior trim and door sills, leather-clad steering wheel with shifting paddles, dual-zone climate control, Audi’s media system with 5.8-inch screen, Drive Select and rear parking sensors.

Our car was fitted with the Tecknik package that can be purchased for $2990, and adds satellite navigation, reversing camera, automatic parking and a premium sound system. Even though it is priced to compete, we found it a touch disappointing that the reversing camera was part of an option package, rather than standard kit.

The Style package which costs $2000 was also optioned on our test vehicle and brought with it Xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights and boosts the wheel size to 18-inches.

The A3 1.8 TFSI Sedan’s direct rival is Mercedes-Benz’s CLA200 for $50,900, plus on-roads.

BMW does not have a small four-door sedan, but until something like a 2 Series Gran Coupe arrives, the 125i for $48,000 would give the little Audi some stiff competition and while it’s also a hatch Volvo’s V40 T4 Luxury for $45,900 would also be a compelling argument for those looking at this end of the market.

Interior

This may well be an Audi for those on a tighter budget, but the interior feels as premium and refined as an A4 or A6 – from the high-end instrument cluster and the display screen, which slides seamlessly in and out of the dash to the airvents and media control dial.

Up front there’s plenty of room and the driving position is excellent. Those leather sports seats are comfortable and supportive through the corners. In the rear this 190cm writer can sit behind his driving position, although knees are up against the seat. Headroom back there, however, is a little limited.

Engine and transmission

While the 1.4-litre unit in the base variant is clever and efficient with its deactivating cylinders, it’s well worth spending an extra five grand and skipping straight to the 1.8 TFSI with its lovely 132kW/250Nm 1.8-litre four-cylinder donk which brings 30kW more power and a torque band that sees all 250Nm on tap from 1250rpm to 5000rpm.

Drive is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission with 0-100km/h coming in 7.3 seconds and continuing on to a top speed of 235km/h.

Audi claims a combined average fuel consumption of 5.6-litre per 100km but after a week of urban duties and blasts along country roads we averaged 9.7L/100km.

Ride and handling

It’s not going to waft along like the A8 flagship but the A3 still has premium-feeling ride. Handling, too, is impressive with the car feeling balanced and the brakes providing excellent stopping power.

Another benefit to stepping up into the 1.8 TFSI is that it brings Audi Drive Select which allows you to switch between Efficiency, Comfort, Auto, Dynamic and Individual throttle and steering settings.

While suspension is fixed at all times choosing Dynamic mode will add weight to the already communicative and smooth steering and sharpen the throttle response.

Safety and servicing

The A3 sedan has a five-star ANCAP crash rating. There’s seven airbags, electronic stability and traction control, ABS and an electronic differential lock.

The model is covered by Audi’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty, with 15,000km service intervals.

Verdict

The A3 Sedan offers big prestige car elements in a smaller package with no compromise in quality or craftsmanship.

Audi has created miniature premium sedan, which not only looks stylish and perfectly proportioned but offers ride, handling and in-car tech on par with more expensive models. Great value for money.

Rivals

Mercedes-Benz CLA 200, $50,900, plus on-road costs
Looking like a scaled-down version of Benz’s CLS, the CLA launched in Australia last year and like the A3 sedan, brings big premium saloon items into a smaller, more affordable package.

BMW 125i $48,000, plus on-road costs
Rumour has it there’s a 2 Series Gran Coupe on the way to fill BMW’s small four-door premium sedan gap, but right now there’s the 125i hatch which is a quicker, gruntier little beast than the Benz or Audi.

Volvo V40 T4 Luxury, $45,900 plus on-road costs
It’s a hatch, but Volvo’s own style of minimalistic prestige in a small package puts the V40 T4 in the mix for those looking for a quirky-cool alternative to the German offerings.

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