Audi: 2014 A3 1.8T Sport sedan review

Audi: 2014 A3 1.8T Sport sedan review

audi-s3-sedan-2014-frontYou’d think that getting out of a 221kW Audi S3 and straight into a 132kW A3 might be a bit of a let-down, but it actually wasn’t bad at all.

In comparison to the S3, the A3 gets much nicer throttle mapping for the downshifts and a whole extra gear ratio with 7 on tap from the S Tronic gearbox. The available power from the 1.8-litre turbo engine means 7.3 seconds to 100kph, which is quite respectable and very usable in day-to-day driving.


audi-s3-sedan-2014-rear-quarterGiven it’s a turbo, there’s also a little bit of ‘coming on boost’ mayhem. There’s quite a lot of throttle travel and then suddenly the top of the wheels want to be where the bottom of the wheels are, and friction is overcome like when that cartoon foal follows the rabbit onto the frozen lake.

As Thumper says, “You gotta lock both ends at the same time,” while Bambi’s legs struggle for traction, and that describes this A3: it would be better away from the line with some proper Quattro four-wheel drive like the Audi S3, despite having Electronic Differential Lock.

audi-s3-sedan-2014-sideIt has the rest of the set of electronic driver aids. Electronic Stability Control acts to prevent too much wheelspin, and any sideways action, which ABS with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist bring the A3 back to a stop without fuss.

Our test A3 came in a colour Audi describes as Monsoon Grey, but I will describe as ‘ninja grey’ – no one notices it. It’s a fairly handsome car, but it’s not striking.

audi-s3-sedan-2014-rearThere are no polarising design features; everything is perfectly proportioned giving it a lightly muscular view side on. At the back there’s a nicely integrated ducktail on the boot lid. At the front there’s Audi’s signature LED headlight eyebrows.

The 17-inch 10-spoke wheels are the right size for the design, and they’re shod in 225/45R17 tyres.

Is the A3 going to dominate the premium small sedan segment?

It’s roughly the same size as the B5 A4 that was discontinued in 2001, so we’re talking about a car that would have been a medium-sized sedan only 13 years ago.

audi-s3-sedan-2014-front-seatsOf course, humanity gets fatter, which is why we don’t drive around in cars the width of a 1958 Austin A35 which my Observer’s Book of Automobiles (1959 edition) reliably informs me is 4-foot 7 and 1/8 inches wide, or a shade under 1.4m. The A3 is nearly 40cm wider.

While the A3 is certainly more sure-footed than Bambi, the options list can make it a little deer [sic]. You can start your ownership experience at $62,000, which is about the right price for what you get.

There’s a large amount of pimping that can be done including bigger wheels, Audi Park Assist, adaptive cruise control, xenon headlights, electric and heated seats, and various exterior styling package additions.

You could spend another $25000 if you’re frivolous ticking the options boxes.

The A3 is extremely well constructed. I couldn’t fault the fit and finish of the interior. The panel gaps all look good. The design is well thought-out. Once you’re used to the MMI controls just below the gearstick, using the features on the large screen is simple.

The driving position is good and the seats are generally comfortable (although don’t have much lateral support). I would expect most owners will end up spending quite a few thousand more adding features to make it perfect for their needs, even though our test car was unadorned with options and perfectly fine.

Price: from $62,000

Pros

  • Stealthy
  • Handles well
  • Good in-dash tech

Cons

  • Would be much better with four-wheel drive to stop its tendency to wheel-spin off the line
  • Not a huge amount of room in the back


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