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October 31, 2014

Audi A3 1.4 TFSI S-Tronic

Monday, August 25, 2014

Well-thought out, well-equipped, well-designed

By Carlos A. Pefaur
Herald Staff
The Audi A3 is one of the major players in the premium segment, giving the carmaker with four rings significant market penetration in terms of sales volume — it has already shifted close to four million units. Its first generation was launched in 1996 and it originally featured only a three-door body; in 1999, a five-door version with the same dimensions became available. In 2003, Audi presented an updated version of the three-door, and a year later it was the five-door’s turn, although this time it had a new design all of its own, known as the Sportback.

Now, the renovation of the three-door has begun, with a new version of the car released in Spain last year. This third generation of the A3 comes in a format that Audi’s competitors have given up on in the segment, and this one has an undeniable appeal among the young.

I drove the Audi A3 1.4 TFSI (Turbo Fuel Stratified Injection) S-Tronic, a version that has an engine capable of 122hp and comes with an excellent S-Tronic transmission. It’s more economical, a little less powerful (which is barely noticeable) and with the same level of comfort as the five-door.

Perhaps the biggest change in this generation is the weight reduction, which is thanks to the use of lighter materials in some structural positions and other components. But these changes have managed to maintain the rigidity of the vehicle.

Design

The new A3’s design speaks a unique language that reinforces its dynamic qualities — it impresses on every journey. These traits make the Audi A3 a vehicle that is very different to others.

The outline of the new Audi A3 is lower, more masculine and dynamic. Its elegant style is defined by the powerful line cut along the edge of windows and the dynamic line above the skirts. The expressive and sculptural lines that cross the Audi A3 give it a compact, muscular appearance. The roofline, similar to a coupé’s, enhances the sporty and powerful look, which gives off an aura of self-assurance despite its lightness.

The narrow headlights exude intensity. Xenon headlights with LED strip daytime lights are available as an option, and you can also opt for an an adaptive light system with a range of headlight options. Tail-lights can also include LED technology and xenon plus lights.

The exterior mirrors on the doors are reminiscent of those on a sports car and this is a noticeable characteristic of the vehicle. It is reminiscent of a racing car: low and wide. Similarly, the integrated roof spoiler generates an additional sporty dynamic in the rear.

Interior

The driving position and front seats are very comfortable. The entire interior is sober and stylish, without too many buttons.

This new A3 also sees the debut of a new set of controls (located between the front seats) which operate the audio system, browser, phone and other menus. While following the same concepts as previous versions, its new circular control buttons are easier to operate without paying too much attention. Most importantly, a 5.8-inch screen displays all navigation (and the MMI mobile infotainment system) information as well as the on-board computer, which provides all kinds of data about the state of the vehicle. That the monitor can be hidden too at the touch of a button is laudable.

The trunk of the Audi A3 has a load capacity of 365 litres. The spare tyre is found underneath that, but it is only for emergencies, which is one negative I noticed.

Motor

The petrol engine in the unit I tested was a 1.4 TFSI, a new propeller made of aluminum, which is much lighter. Four valves per cylinder, direct fuel injection and turbocharging allow the car to reach 122hp between 5,000 and 6,000rpm, with torque of 200Nm between 1,400 and 4,000rpm. With these features you can reach a top speed of 203kmph, accelerating from 0 to 100 kmph in just 9.3 seconds.

The average consumption is 5.2 litres per 100km travelled — spectacular. This engine is paired with an S-Tronic seven-speed double clutch gearbox. Soft prices and rapid change. It also has paddles behind the wheel to make gear shifts manually in Sport mode.

The car I tested included these additional features: Audi Parking System, 7.5J x 17-inch rear cast aluminum wheels with a 15-spoke design, MMI Navigation plus with MMI touch, Alcantara leather upholstery, electric sunroof, tire pressure indicator, Technology pack, leather multifunction steering wheel with shift paddles, Xenon headlights, Bluetooth, internal LED lighting technology, and front centre armrest.

The safety equipment has many strong points, including seven airbags, fog lamps, a hill start system, sound assistance for parking, power steering and ISOFIX child seats. It also features ASR, or anti-skid control, ESP stability control with the electronic differential lock mechanism, and electromechanical parking brake, among other features.

Final verdict?

I loved the Audi A3 1.4 TFSI.

In its own right, it remains the benchmark in its segment. The differences compared to its rivals are veritable and praise is justifiable. This is a quality car that is extremely satisfactory in every way, and it’s also quiet and very well sound-proofed.

Best of all, it is a car that is still enjoyable when at the wheel. It’s unrivalled right now.

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