The Audi A3 sedan might sound ordinary but nothing could be further from the truth. The car that brings the German automobile maker into the world’s largest market segment – the compact sedan – is replete with features found normally only in luxury vehicles. It is, indeed, a premium compact sedan.

The third model in the A3 line-up initially comes Down Under with a choice of three engines – two petrol and one diesel, all turbocharged – developed to give the cars class leading fuel economy.

However, being Audis, the vehicles also aim to present a sporty performance backed by looks that are designed to make them stand out from the compact sedan crowd.

Two specification levels – Attraction and Ambition – offer generous features, owners can option up their vehicles with Audi packages including advanced driver assistance systems, the latest in in-car infotainment, including MMI navigation plus with a touch-wheel and 5.8-inch monitor and high-end Bang and Olufsen  audio.

For example, our test vehicle, a 1.4-litre TFSI petrol model, included a Style Package which added xenon plus headlamps and daytime running lights, sports suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels; plus a Technik Package consisting of MMI navigation plus, pop-up screen with rear-view camera and park assist, and Audi sound – well worth the $5000 premium on the $39,800 recommended retail price.
The engines range in capacity from 1.4-litre to 1.8-litre petrol power plants, with a 2.0-litre diesel unit completing the picture. All are mated with Audi’s seven-speed dual clutch S tronic automatic transmission.

A feature of the test vehicle was the cylinder-on-demand system which cuts out two cylinders at loads to achieve even better fuel economy without punishing performance.

The single-frame radiator grille gives the A3 Sedan a customary Audi introduction, large air inlets emphasise the width of the vehicle, while the flat roofline conveys the sense of a sleek coupe in profile. Optional LED headlamps and daytime running lights, plus LEDs at the rear, were added attractions on the test vehicle.

A spacious interior is complemented by generous boot capacity of 425 litres, extendable for large objects by folding the rear seat backs. A net, hooked to floor-mounted rings, keeps cargo in its place.

European elegance greets driver and passengers on entering the cabin. Quality fittings and fixtures, including leather upholstery, are a feature, while a well thought-out instrument display and control layout put the driver instantly at ease.
The driver enjoys the benefit of information conveyed via a 3.5-inch screen on the dash directly behind the steering wheel. Displayed are important pieces of information and advice on fuel efficient driving, as well as alerts on recommended rests.

The entire Audi automotive infotainment range has been brought to bear on the A3 sedan giving it a leading position in the segment. Central to this is a 5.8-inch power pop-up screen atop the central dashboard, which together with the Audi MMI navigation plus, an option in the test car, projects a wide range of information and gives the driver the ability to programme vehicle systems via a control wheel on the centre console to suit their demands.

The system runs an internal flash memory drive, DVD, eight-speaker radio, music and Bluetooth interface, while word recognition has the driver navigating, making phone calls or playing music simply by word of mouth.

In frontal collisions passive safety is taken care of by cross and side members distributing forces away from the passenger shell, while crumple zones around the vehicle absorb forces. From the side, sills and B-pillars offer protection and in a rear-ender, once again, cross members spread the danger outwards.

Avoiding accidents is aided by a suite of state-of-the-art systems, including electronic stability control, anti-skid brakes with emergency braking and traction control. Package options include adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and side assist.

Don’t expect the A3 Sedan to set the world (or tarmac) alight. Emphasis here is on fuel economy.  The 103 kW of power put out by the 1.4-litre engine has the car reaching 100 kilometres per hour from rest in a claimed 8.4 seconds.

The 250 Nm of torque on tap between 1500 and 3500 revs, with its tuned in seven-speed double clutch DSG automatic transmission, has the car cruising with little stress, while the well-sorted suspension making for a smooth ride.

The A3 1.4 sedan returned consumption of 5.7 litres using premium unleaded petrol on day-to-day running.

One quibble, with the engine stop/start system operating, a further aid to saving fuel, the motor can be slow to cut in resulting in a ragged take-off.

Audi extended its plant in Hungary to build the A3 Sedan, an investment it hopes to recoup in spades. With the company continuing to make inroads into the Australian market it’s a safe bet this will be the case.


A3 Attraction sedan 1.4 TFSI COD S tronic: $39,800
A3 Ambition sedan 1.8 TFSI S tronic: $44,800
A3 Ambition sedan 2.0 TDI S tronic:  $44,800
A3 Ambition sedan 1.8 TFSI quattro S tronic: $47,800
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Audi dealer for drive away prices.

Audi parking system: rear
Leather-appointed upholstery
Dual-zone automatic climate control with digital display and rear-seat vents
Audi Music Interface
Bluetooth interface with audio streaming
MMI radio system – electrically retractable, slimline 5.8in colour display monitor with 8 passive speakers
Cruise control
Driver information system
Dynamic suspension
Exterior electric mirrors
Light and rain sensor
Multi-function leather-wrapped four-spoke steering wheel with paddle-shift

SPECIFICATIONS (Audi A3 1.4 TFSI petrol engine))
Capacity: 1.395 litres
Configuration: Four-cylinder petrol with FSI injection, turbocharging and Audi cylinder on demand technology, four valves per cylinder, double overhead camshafts (DOHC)
Bore x Stroke: 74.5 mm x 80.0 mm
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Maximum Power: 103 kW @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 250 Nm @ 1500-3500 rpm

Transmission: Seven-speed S tronic; Dual clutch made up of two concentrically arranged wet single clutches; front-wheel drive with electronic stability control

Length: 4456 mm
Width: 1796 mm (excluding mirrors)
Height: 1416 mm
Wheelbase: 2637 mm
Track: 1555 mm (front)/ 1526 (rear)
Kerb weight: 1250 kg
Gross weight limit: 1800 kg
Roof load limit: 75 kg
Cargo capacity: 425 litres; 880 litres (rear seat folded)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 50 litres
Towing capacity: 1700 kg (braked) / 660 kg (unbraked)
Turning circle: 11.0 m
Drag co-efficient, Cd: 0.29

Suspension: McPherson struts with lower wishbones, aluminium subframe, tubular anti-roll bar (front); Four-link rear suspension with separate spring/shock absorber arrangement, subframe, tubular anti-roll bar
Brakes: Dual-circuit brake system with diagonal split, ESC with electronic limited slip differential, hydraulic brake assist, disk brakes ventilated at front, solid at rear  Steering: Electromechanical steering with speed-dependent power assist
Wheels: 7Jx16in steel
Tyres: 205/55 R16

Acceleration 0 to 100 km/h: 8.4 sec
Top speed: 217 km/h

Fuel type: 95 RON unleaded
Combined Cycle (ADR 81/01): 4.7 litres per 100 km. CO2 emissions 109 g / km
Emissions: Euro VI

Greenhouse Rating: 8.5 / 10
Air Pollution Rating: 7.5 / 10

3 years / unlimited kilometres

About Derek Ogden

On graduating with an honours degree in applied science in London, Derek Ogden worked for the BBC in local radio and several British newspapers as a production journalist and writer. Derek moved to Australia in 1975 and worked as a sub-editor with The Courier Mail and Sunday Mail in Brisbane, moving to the Gold Coast Bulletin in 1980 where he continued as a production journalist. He was the paper's motoring editor for more than 20 years, taking the weekly section from a few pages at the back of the book to a full-colour liftout of up to 36 pages. He left the publication in 2009.
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