The all-new Audi A3 Sedan.
The all-new Audi A3 Sedan.

Audi A3 Sedan road test: Sedans are back in vogue

THE excitement is palpable at Audi Australia. There is a feeling of accomplishment and gratitude, a sense of celebration.

And they have good cause.

Audi sold more than 16,000 units last year, up 10% on 2012 and well ahead of the target of 15,000 by 2015.

Much of last year's windfall was of course buoyed by the A3 Sportback, released last May and finding 1800 new owners by December.

Now Audi has brought the A3 Sedan to market, and it's the first time a notchback of this size has come to Australia.

It shares not a panel with the Sportback but is hoping to capitalise on its popularity and bring back the sedan in a fashionable, stylish way.

Manufactured at Audi's Gyor plant in Hungary, the A3 Sedan is offered in three petrol variants including the all-wheel drive quattro and a powerful 2.0-litre turbo diesel.

It is light and sporty and above all, classy and didn't fail to impress as we put the variants through their paces during the launch in Bowral last week.

Comfort

The inside of the A3 Sedan is spacious, modern and lacks for little in terms of comfort.

The leather seats, in a choice of colours, are wide and supportive - although perhaps a little flat - and easy to adjust for that perfect position.

The console is angled slightly towards the driver with the slimline controls and dials arranged in a practical fashion. There is a mix of pleasant tactile touches and harder plastics, luckily not too much of the latter, with the overall feeling one of genuine pleasantness.

The rounded protruding air vents are a bit stark for my taste and feels like a last-minute addition rather than a fully integrated fixture but that is something you could live with. Head and legroom is generous up front but a sloping roof will make matters tight for tall rear-seat passengers.

There are storage options aplenty including cup holders upfront, under- seat compartments and door pockets which will hold a small bottle of water. The boot at 425 litres with the seats in place and 880 litres when lowered is class leading and deep enough to actually be useful.

On the road

We had a go in the 1.4-litre and 1.8-litre TFSI and the 2.0-litre TDI, three of the four variants on offer, and were impressed with general all-round capability.

Featuring Audi's sporty S tronic dual-clutch transmission, the A3 Sedan, in any guise, is an exciting unit offering an enjoyable and efficient drive. It sticks in corners, is accomplished both on windy roads and open stretches and finds speed without breaking a sweat.

The steering is nicely weighted, responding quickly to any sleight of hand while the sporty suspension falters in comfort only on the bumpiest of roads.

There is some discernable road noise across the range, not annoyingly so, but there all the same. For us the surprise package was the 1.4-litre TFSI which was exemplary where we expected it to be adequate.

It seems a small unit unable to really power the A3 Sedan despite Audi's use of such lightweight material, but the reality is very different. The 1.4-litre is more than equal to the task and its cylinder on demand system which sees it drop from four to two cylinders between 1300rpm-3900rpm at low loads, helps minimise fuel usage. For our part, as much as we listened out for it, we were unable to distinguish the moment the cylinders made the switch.

What do you get?

Well, as with all luxury or prestige cars of this ilk it always appears you are getting bang for your buck but the real story lies in the additional packages on offer needed to enhance your driving pleasure.

Of course you get things like climate control, rain sensing wipers, auto headlights and a top notch infotainment system but you will have to pay extra for sat nav, electric seats, a sunroof and LED lights.

The Style package, for example, which includes Xenon plus headlights with LED running lights, sports suspension and 18-inch alloys in a 10-spoke design, will set you back $2000 while for $2990 more you can also add the Technik package (MMI Navigation plus with MMI Touch, Driver Information System, Parking System Plus with rear camera and park assist and Audi sound system).

Safety is five star with all that entails and for added security you can opt for the Assistance package ($1800) which includes adaptive cruise control, Audi pre sense, lane departure warning, high beam assist and Audi side assist.

Practicality

The A3 Sedan has been targeted to satisfy the needs of youngish up and coming executives and young families looking for style, comfort and performance.

And to this end it should have little trouble. This is a versatile small car which is hard to fault and will no doubt capture the imagination.

Running costs

Official fuel figures are frugal, ranging from 4.5 litres/100km for the 2.0 TDI to 6.6L/100km for the 1.8 TFSI quattro.

Our launch drives were a bit off that but to be honest they were not long enough to give a true indication.

Audi offers a three-year unlimited kilometres warranty with an extended warranty available for an additional 12, 24, 36 or 48 months up to a maximum of 160,000km.

AudiCare 24-hour roadside assistance is complimentary for three years.

Funky factor

Care has been taken to ensure the A3 Sedan is a dynamic looking sporty package that will catch the eye.

It sits low and proud on its haunches with a modern contemporary single frame grille which speaks Audi's latest design language.

Flowing lines and pronounced edges add to the sporty feel while the tornado line - a contour edge along the side that runs from front to back - reinforces that muscular edge.

The lowdown

It is easy to see why the team at Audi is so excited. The A3 Sedan is a real world example of a small car which can deliver the goods and do so in style.

It is likely to become a firm favourite and will do its bit to ensure the German manufacturer continues to reach its goals.

What matters most

What we liked: Excellent performance, sporty looks, spacious interior.

What we'd like to see: Less road noise, more standard inclusions.

Warranty and servicing: Audi offers a three-year unlimited kilometre warranty with three years roadside assist. Servicing is every 15,000km or 12 months.

VITAL STATISTICS
Model:
Audi A3 Sedan.
Details: Five-door front-wheel and all-wheel drive compact sedan.
Transmission: Six or seven-speed S tronic dual clutch automatic.
Engine: 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol with TFSI direct injection generating maximum power of 103kW @ 5000rpm and peak torque of 350Nm between 1500-3500rpm. 1.8-litre TFSI generating 132kW between 5100-6200rpm and 250Nm between 1250-5000rpm. 1.8-litre TFSI quattro 132kW between 5100-6200rpm and of 280Nm between 1350-4500rpm. 2.0-litre TDI four-cylinder turbo diesel 110kW between 3500-4000rpm and 320Nm between 1750-3000rpm
Consumption: 4.7 litres/100km for 1.4 TFSI, 5.6L/100km for 1.8 TFSI, 6.6L/100km for 1.8 TFSI quattro, 4.5L/100km for 2.0 TDI
Bottom line: 1.4 TFSI $39,800; 1.8 TFSI $44,800; 2.0 TDI $44,800; 1.8 TFSI quattro $47,800.


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