A small premium segment
You can't please everyone. If, at home and more widely in Europe, the Audi A3 is appreciated with a practical tailgate on a daily basis, for China or the United States, it needs an “old-fashioned” trunk and the silhouette that goes with it. to generate interest. After a rather discreet first generation in our region, Audi is trying again with the A3 sedan, just to change the Mercedes CLA and the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé. 16 cm longer than the Audi A3 Sportback (4.50 m against 4.34 m), this body has also grown by 4 cm compared to the previous version, whose design was perhaps too classic to be noticed. The brand with the Rings has therefore beefed up the design with more marked wheel arches, as well as headlights with a specific light signature distinguishing it from the 5-door.
Visually much more dynamic, this second Audi A3 bodywork – the 3-door and convertible will not be renewed– is the more family-friendly of the two thanks to its noticeably larger trunk, although it may be less practical, in the absence of a tailgate, for accommodating bulky items. However, thanks to its greater length of 20 cm, this trunk advances 350 dm3, i.e. 70 dm3 more than the Sportback according to our measurements.. On the other hand, no surprise on board where the habitability – sufficient without more in the rear seats – is identical to the nearest centimeter, which is logical since the two variants share the same wheelbase (2.64 m) … and the same on-board furniture.
Ergonomics and finish in decline
We therefore find this modern interior, with the spectacular digital counter with effects that are not always easily readable for the tachometer for example, and the large 10.1-inch central screen managing all the “multimedia”. As with all of the latest compact cars from the Volkswagen group, we also lost the very practical rotary controls for the air conditioning and lighting., which made it possible to manipulate these functions without taking their eyes off the road. A small ergonomic decline, however less problematic than in a Golf. More disappointing, on the other hand, was the feeling of a drop in quality perceived on board, with a decline in materials.
Now, only the upper cover of the dashboard is molded in a beautiful foamed plastic, the rest – which however presents very well – being devoted to more rigid materials. An astonishing choice on the part of Audi, whose hallmark was precisely to be "richer" than the competition. If this desire to save money is less visible than in an Audi Q2 or the last Audi A1, this confirms that the Rings now only treat models from the very superior ranges.
A nice 4-cylinder
Under the hood of this sedan, we find part of the 4-cylinder Sportback – before, later, the terrible 5-cylinder of the RS – which adopt, as here, a micro-hybridization in gasoline with the s tronic box 7. The 48V starter-alternator, ultra-fast and devoid of the slightest vibration to the point that it is almost impossible to detect its operation , is powered by a small 250 Wh li-ion battery housed under the passenger seat, the latter recharging during braking phases.
The welcome electric boost
Capable of adding 9 kW and up to 200 Nm of torque at very low speeds, this electric unit does not allow zero emissions to be driven, but pleasantly reinforces the 1.5 TSI 150. With the help of the double-clutch automatic gearbox, whose gear change management is not too eco-friendly, this engine provides good performance(only 5.6 s to go from 80 to 120 km / h) even if the sensations behind the wheel suggest the opposite. Especially since the ensemble remains calm in the first half of the accelerator stroke. But its greatest quality is that, thanks in part to light hybridization, its fuel consumption is really reasonable with 6.7 l / 100 km on average according to our ISO measurements.
Strange braking but satisfactory comfort
The only downside, this hybridization also involves a sometimes complicated brake dosage, between dead travel and accentuated engine braking when regenerative braking recharges the battery. The chassis of the A3 (multi-link rear axle from 150 hp) ensures average efficiency, while the steering offers enough consistency, although it is not very informative about the level of grip. So be careful on wet roads, because the front axle slips a little early in these conditions, and drives moderately. A sedan from a good father, which provides great comfort, with progressive damping , at least in the configuration tested, with 17-inch wheels and optional piloted suspension (€ 1,120).
Priced 550 € more than the Sportback, this Audi A3 with trunk is not unaffordable for an Audi. With its dynamic design, it even represents an alternative to an Audi A4 which is admittedly larger (+ 22 cm), but which offers only one or two additional centimetersfor the legs of the rear passengers, and not really more trunk volume. And above all, the big sister, which gives access to more muscular engines, is € 5,000 more expensive, with comparable engines and equipment. This is food for thought.
* NB: a technical problem did not allow us to publish the detailed technical sheet of this test. The manufacturer's data can be found here