In my extensive vehicle reviews, it’s rare for me to instantly fall in love with a car upon entering it. However, my recent experience with the latest generation Audi A3 changed that perception. As Audi’s small premium sedan competitor, the A3 stands tall against rivals like the 2-series Gran Coupe and the A-class sedan. Built on the Mk8 Golf platform, the new A3 offers exceptional driving characteristics. Join me as I delve deeper into the Audi A3 and explore the reasons why this sedan captivated me.
At first glance, the new A3’s handsome aesthetics drew me in. Admittedly, the differences between this generation and its predecessor may not be apparent to the average person, which is why it may not turn heads as it passes by. Despite its small size, the A3 boasts proportions that give it a commanding presence. Audi designers have masterfully enhanced the vehicle’s lines, resulting in a modern and elegant appearance.
The A3 features Audi’s signature large front grille, complemented by sharp-looking headlights that exude a sporty feel. However, due to local tax regulations, the model I tested only came with basic LED headlights, lacking adaptive high beams. At the rear, the A3 boasts full LED tail lights inspired by the Audi e-tron GT, giving the sedan a distinctive nighttime look. The stock 17-inch rims wrapped in 225/45 RAH tires may appear small on the A3, but upgrading to larger rims and a lowered suspension would enhance its sporty stance.
The moment I sat in the driver’s seat, I immediately noticed the driver-centric design. The driving position felt special, reminiscent of a sports car rather than a sedan. The dashboard features AC vents and buttons angled towards the driver, enhancing the feeling of being in command. The A3’s premium tactile interior is consistent with other Audi models, and I particularly appreciated the symmetrical dashboard design that complements the exterior.
Like all Audi models, the A3 is equipped with the Audi Virtual Cockpit, a digital instrument cluster that offers three display styles. I found the one with the large tachometer at the center particularly appealing. The dashboard also houses a 10.1-inch infotainment screen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility. Unfortunately, wireless connectivity is limited to Apple CarPlay, while Android Auto requires a wired connection. The basic Audi sound system provided balanced audio quality.
The center console features an electronic gear shifter resembling the one found in the Volkswagen Golf. The A3’s sporty front seats offer excellent support and a snug feel during spirited driving. Wrapped in soft leather, they add a touch of luxury, although the seat cushion may feel firm during long drives. Rear seats provide decent comfort, although the middle passenger may find it less accommodating. Legroom and headroom are adequate, ensuring comfort even during extended trips. Rear passengers benefit from dedicated AC vents to cool the cabin. With the rear seats in place, the A3 offers a 425L boot space, expandable by folding them down.
The Audi A3 is powered by the same 2.0L turbocharged engine found in the Volkswagen Passat Elegance. Paired with a familiar 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, it delivers power exclusively to the front wheels. The performance figures for this powertrain are as follows:
Total output: 190PS at 4,180 – 6,000 rpm
Total torque: 320 Nm at 1,500 – 3,990 rpm
0-100 km/h: 7.3 seconds
Top speed: 240 km/h
The engine impresses with its smoothness and swift acceleration, comparable to driving an electric vehicle. However, the A3’s chassis feels capable of handling even more power. With its stiff suspension, the car transmits road imperfections to the cabin. The A3’s handling matches that of the Golf, offering sharp cornering and direct steering, making it a joy to drive. Unfortunately, the Malaysian market does not include adaptive suspension, which could have added further character to the A3.
The A3 boasts strong brakes that inspire confidence, allowing for precise braking during spirited driving. However, the model lacks extensive driver assistance systems. The only available feature is Lane Departure Warning. Although this may seem limited, it contributes to a simplified and immersive driving experience. The safety and driver assistance features of the Audi A3 Sedan include six airbags, Lane Departure Warning, and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Priced at RM 327,162.00, the Audi A3 may be considered costly for the features it offers compared to its segment competitors. However, without budget constraints, I would choose the A3 without hesitation due to its exceptional driving experience. Nevertheless, the A3 faces a challenge as the latest Mk8 Golf offers 80% of its driving feel at a lower price point. Despite this, I hold a genuine fondness for the A3 and believe that Audi’s future RS3 has the potential to be an outstanding vehicle.
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