Curiosity of the calendar or internal strategy, the Audi A3 was presented a few weeks apart than two of its internal competitors, namely the Volkswagen Golf and the Seat Leon. Built around the MQB Evo platform, the A3, Golf and Leon share many technical elements in common.
A little too much to the point of wondering if the premium vocations of the A3 really make the difference in the face of internal competition at the frontiers of premium? Probably, even if Audi is still targeting two other rivals who have also sharpened recently, namely the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes Class A. Faced with its two premium competitors, the Audi A3 is nevertheless the oldest since it is already one. in its fourth generation and has passed over five million copies since 1996.
Evolution more than revolution
As you can see from the photos available, the new Audi A3 Sportback has changed very little visually compared to the one it replaces. As usual, successful models evolve sparingly at Audi so as not to upset the habits of its valued customers too much.
To find real novelties, you have to get on board with a completely redesigned dashboard. Fortunately, the Audi A3 has not succumbed to digital fad at all. As a result, there are certainly two screens on our trial version, but the physical commands and shortcuts to access the screen menus are still present. Unlike the Volkswagen Golf, there is no need to get lost in the menus to activate the ventilation since all the buttons are still physical.
Still neat inside this A3?
The materials are still of high quality, like the assemblies, even if the Audi A3 loses in our eyes in perceived quality compared to the old generation with hard plastics on some parts, especially on the storm doors, or even very messy lacquered black plastic elements that leave a lot of fingerprints.
These astonishing savings are not really justified, especially since the prices are always elitist compared to its rivals from the Volkswagen group who are hardly less good at this level. This is not necessarily a surprise because we had already raised this slight concern on the A1 and Q2, with a lot of inequalities between the quality of the different materials.
In terms of roominess, the Audi A3 is rather welcoming in the rear seats with enough space for two adults. The trunk volume fluctuates between 380 and 1200 liters, roughly the same volume as a Volkswagen Golf. Our trial version, packed with options, benefits from the optional electric tailgate at 450 euros. Equipment that is still quite rare in this category of vehicles.
Dynamic qualities on the rise?
For our test, we went to Marseille and its hinterland to take advantage of its dynamic qualities. However, small bends are not necessarily the favorite playground of the Audi A3, the latter preferring to play the card of safety by restraining in a way the sensations. Will this fourth generation sweep away our received ideas?
Our test version, equipped with the "S line" finish (with Sport suspension and ride height lowered by 15 millimeters), is well equipped with a multi-link rear axle as standard from the 150 horsepower engines and damping controlled on three modes (optional at 1120 euros). Precise steering, efficient road holding, controlled roll … The Audi A3 Sportback ticks all the right boxes.
The four-cylinder TDI engine from 150 horsepower and 360 Nm of torque shines with its flexibility of use and its very good performance in dynamic driving, aided by a seven-speed S tronic gearbox better managed than before in dynamic driving, although a bit still lazy when entering one or two reports. Even in dynamic driving, the small 150 horsepower diesel engine remains fairly frugal with an average consumption that does not exceed 6.5 l / 100 kilometers.
This Audi A3 Sportback is more dynamic, to be sure, but it also has the good idea not to deteriorate its comfort. It must be said that the 17-inch rims of our test model (which are not sold in France) certainly contribute to the good general comfort of our car, which thus finds the right compromise between good filtration of small irregularities and well-managed cash movements on undulations.
The highway test for more than 700 kilometers
To try out our Audi A3 in all conditions, the next day we drove from Marseille to Paris, the opportunity to take stock of fuel consumption and overall comfort of the car over approximately 770 kilometers.
The test took place in the form of a consumption challenge with other colleagues, we left Marseille with a full tank of diesel and the tank sealed to Paris. On our side, we chose to drive with cruise control at 130 km / h during the entire trip, with obviously a lot of slowdown phases due to the countless works on the A6 motorway.
On the motorway, our Audi A3 certainly did not disappoint us in terms of comfort, only small air and rolling noises tarnish the picture, but let's not forget that it is at the base of a compact , a real sedan with trunk and more slender like the Audi A4 will undoubtedly do better on this exercise.
We also had the opportunity to test the semi-autonomous driving system which combines maintaining distance with other vehicles, recognition of panels combined with adaptive regulator or even keeping in the lane with centering. Overall, the semi-autonomous system alternates the good and the less good, adaptive cruise control takes a long time to re-accelerate after a vehicle has pulled back.
The lane-keeping system is also a little too violent when approaching a white line and will correct the trajectory with a great blow of the steering wheel. Better to stay vigilant. For once, the semi-autonomous driving system tested on the new Volkswagen ID.3 is much more convincing.
After 770 kilometers between Marseille and Paris, we managed to reach an average of 4.6 l / 100 kilometers obviously paying attention to our driving, but driving at the speed limits, rarely below, never above. As an indication, some of our competitors were driving Audi A3 but with the 150 horsepower petrol engine. By adopting the same type of driving, they achieved an honorable score of 5.9 l / 100 kilometers.
At what price ?
Available from 28,200 euros, the Audi A3 is inserted between its two rivals, namely the BMW 1 Series (from 24,850 euros) and the Mercedes Class A (28,500 euros) at low cost. In this range there, customers are rather fond of well-equipped models, like our Audi A3 Sportback fitted with the "S line" finish and which sees its price climb to 41,850 euros with the 150 horsepower diesel and the automatic transmission. With a few more options, our test model is displayed at just over 46,000 euros.
A Volkswagen Golf TDI with practically the same equipment, the same engine and an automatic gearbox does not exceed 40,000 euros, while a Seat Leon struggles to reach 35,000 euros. An additional cost that has never really frightened the brand's customers, especially since it is often absorbed in financing with a consistently higher residual value for the Audi A3.
Still, its two German and Iberian cousins have never been so close to our A3 which, unlike previous generations, no longer really widens the gap. Will the four rings on the grille be enough to justify a higher additional cost to purchase without real added value? Certainly, other models of the brand have already proved it.
|Good points||Negative points|
|Controlled consumption||Range damn low at launch|
|Alliance between comfort and dynamism||Prices still quite high|
|Modern, driver-oriented interior||Some amazing hard plastics|