The Audi A3 has been a great sales success and is one of the key ingredients that explains how Audi as a premium car manufacturer can sell more cars than most mainstream companies. However objectively it has had some big flaws; it was cramped in the back, expensive, lacked driver involvement but still had an unforgiving ride, and had a rather embarrassing 4 star Euro NCAP safety rating. So is the third generation A3 the real deal?
The A3 shares its new platform with the rest of the Group so that makes its closest competitors the VW Golf, SEAT Leon and Skoda Octavia. However inside and out there is no mistaking the A3 for anything other than an Audi; if you like Audi design you will love the A3. The most impressive element is the new interior which exudes quality.
The A3 also benefits from an advanced engine in the form of the 1.4 TFSI CoD. The last bit stands for ‘Cylinder on Demand’ which means that the engine can drop from 4 cylinders to 2 cylinders under light load. This means that you get 4-cylinder power when you need it and 2-cylinder efficiency when you don’t. It’s a clever system which increases efficiency without weight.
On the road Audi has had partial success in ironing out the gripes. On the positive side the ride quality has been improved and is now acceptable. On the negative side the A3 still lacks any real driver involvement with a distinct lack of steering feel and a chassis that is biased towards grip rather than agility, it doesn’t make you want to take the long way home.
The latest A3 has improved in some key areas, notably it now has an excellent 5 star Euro NCAP rating with one of the highest scores ever, and it has an efficient and powerful engine which is also one of the first to meet the stringent Euro 6 standard. However it remains expensive, a bit cramped, and dull to drive. Where it does excel is in the quality of the interior which has raised the bar for this class once more.