2014 Audi A3 Review

Another day, another Audi. Report from the launch of the all-new Audi A3 sedan

By Fraser Martin

2014 Audi A3

The A3 sedan, launched in Budapest, just round the corner from where they make them in Hungary, is a product of one of Audi’s newest tooling setups. The new 3 series car (note the lower case s on series so that we are not confused with BMW!) comes from the world’s biggest engine plant, in Gyor, north west of the capital, where in 2012 alone, over 1.9 million engines were manufactured. The A3 sedan is being built alongside the TT Coupe, TT Roadster and the A3 Cabriolet, making it the fourth car to be wholly manufactured by Audi Hungary.

Now you could reasonably be forgiven for allowing a wee bit of a yawn to escape here: whilst we members of the Fourth Estate (Middle East Branch) were hosted in style and spectacular surroundings, the announcement of a four door, three box sedan (and no, it is not a limousine, whichever language you choose to describe the new A3 in) to join the A3 5-door hatch, 3-door hatch, 2-door convertible and a fairly broad range of TTs based on pretty much the same platform, is not earth shattering news.

2014 Audi A3

The reality, both in terms of looks and dynamic ability is exactly as you would expect from Audi – a thoroughly competent, well designed, nice looking, ergonomically sound and sufficiently agile sedan that will easily jump to the top of the list of anyone who is looking for a thoroughly competent, well designed, etc, etc three box sedan. It is a fine car.

2014 Audi A3

What makes this car important for Audi is that it is, if you read between the lines, the final step on the road to World Domination! This car, and any further badge derivatives, will take the parent Volkswagen Group to the point of being the world’s largest automobile manufacturer – yes, surpassing Ford, GM, Fiat-Chrysler, anything from Korea and the mighty Toyota, by the end of 2020 – only seven years from now. It is a giant step forward for what, only half a century ago, was a disjointed group of loosely complimentary motor bike and mini-car manufacturers, still trying to shake off the battered image of post-War, poor quality East German products.

2014 Audi A3

The Gyor plant in Hungary will feed Europe and the US markets, the latter being a core target for Audi, but there will be a mirror image plant in China, opening very soon indeed, that will feed the ravenous demands of that home market. It seems likely, given the geography, that India, Brazil, probably Russia and most of what have been considered hitherto, as “emerging markets”, such as the non-Japanese Far East growth areas, and probably Australasia, will be fed from the China factory.

2014 Audi A3

There will be no stopping these boys: the car is so good, both in petrol and diesel variants, that irrespective of a downgrade in specification or trim levels to meet price sensitivities in each market, no one will be able to touch it for quality and downright usability. The new A3 is a car that is unlikely to put a foot wrong!

2014 Audi A3

So, what’s it like? The models we drove represented mostly the top end specification levels – S pack cars, in either 6-speed manual or 7-speed tiptronic auto, with the flappy paddles. The engine choices were familiar too: an excellent turbo diesel of 2-litres, that will sadly not come this way due to the appalling quality of domestic fuel, and two willing petrol units: the trusty 1.4litre, 125hp TFSI and the 1.8 TSFI, which at 180hp is currently the most powerful engine in the A3 range. In the pipeline is a 2.0litre TSFI unit which will wring 300hp from the four cylinder block, but that has not yet been confirmed for our markets.

2014 Audi A3

All variations are available with either front wheel drive or Quattro as a general specification listing but in the Middle East region, first production will be the 1.4 with Cylinder On Demand, a system that shuts off two of the four pots when cruising to maximise economy, along with front drive and Quattro versions of the 1.8. All will be equipped with the seven speed S-tronic gearbox. Manual boxes are optional through the dealerships on special order.

2014 Audi A3

I get to do quite a bit of Audi driving at the Autodrome as many will know, and so the A3 Sedan was immediately familiar both in terms of comfort and handling. I could not find any reason to suppose that the changes made have affected Audi’s performance levels, and as a general observation, with the savings made to weight in the building of the 4-door, driving the car was not unlike driving the front-wheel drive TTs I am used to. I would admit that getting in and out of the sedan was much easier though!

2014 Audi A3

Inside, and irrespective of trim levels, the interior finishes are up to the usual Audi standard. I did not expect anything less than another variation on what are still the best interiors in mass production, and I was not disappointed. A metalised ‘blade’ runs through the dashboard now, giving the car a little bit more in optical width, and the climate control centre has been tidied up and taken down in size from the Lego controls of the TTs. The navigation runs Google Maps (at least in Europe) so it is a bit easier to recognise your surroundings. I didn’t get lost once!

The entry level car for the region will be the 1.4 S-tronic front wheel drive unit, and will start at Dhs.92,000 when it goes on sale in the first quarter of next year. Next will be the 1.8 S-tronic front driver starting at Dhs.109,500 and topping the list as the ‘Number One’ car will be the 1.8 S-tronic Quattro at Dhs. 119,500. These are pretty competitive prices, at least on paper though clearly the S-Line trim packs will not be included at these levels.

2014 Audi A3

As usual with Audi, there is a raft of options for inside and out, from trim and materials to variations on the wheel and tyre combinations, all designed to hoover up some more of your money. But when all is said and done, getting in to one of the new A3 sedans could be a really good move – it is a conservative choice, it is a quality choice, it is a practical choice and it goes like a TT.

And, just think – if you do buy one, you will be helping to make history! What’s not to like?

2014 Audi A3 Sedan
Specs
Price:
1.4 S Tronic FWD – AED92,000 ($)
1.8 S Tronic FWD – AED109,500 ($)
1.8 S Tronic Quattro AWD – AED119,500 ($)
Engine:
1.4-litre TFSI four-cylinder, 140bhp @ 4500-6000rpm, 184lb ft @ 1500-3500rpm
1.8-litre TFSI four-cylinder, 180bhp @ 5100-6200rpm, 184ld ft @ 1250-5000rpm
Performance:
1.4: 8.4secs 0-100kph, 217kph,
1.8: 7.3secs 0-100kph, 235kph,
Transmission: Auto, front wheel drive, and all-wheel drive Quattro available on 1.8

Would you have an A3 sedan? Let us know below

One response to “2014 Audi A3 Review”

  1. Mado says:

    Good look, but without sun roof !!

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