The Audi A3: Small package, Big Impact?

The Audi A3 has always been an intriguing car. It represents what a city goer needs in today’s times. The compact dimensions and stylish looks are the dominant characteristics of this car. But what is the actual point of this car? It is fast. It looks good. It handles fairly decently. But the main question… Is it any good?

When you walk up to the car, you see the 4 rings. Well you ought to think that this will ooze premiumness from all for corners. And you certainly will not be proved wrong. The car looks pretty stylish and manages to turn heads around wherever it goes. Impressive start, then. You start to see how compact the actual footprint of the car is and then you think how compact? Right about now, I opened the rear door…

Now I am not what you call The Great Khali but with my height at 5’7, I do need my fair share of space in a car. And the A3 does not deliver on that front in the rear seats. With the front seats positioned to my driving position, I had just about enough space to tuck my legs behind. Anyone taller and say goodbye to the legs. And no I am not exaggerating. It is that bad.

But glossing over that, get to the front seat and you soon start to believe that it is still an Audi. The dashboard is finished with fine materials and the center console is almost a direct lift from its elder siblings like the A4 or the A6, which is a good starting point. The rotary AC knobs suit the funky look this car tries to portray. The pop up screen also excites the 10 year old in me every time it pops out. The front seat itself has good support and it is very easy to find your ideal driving position in no time. Clawing back some points I see.

Put in the key in the slot and twist the key to wake up the 1.8 liter engine producing 178 bhp mated to the quite common 7 speed DQ200 DSG gearbox. No push button start on this one and it is definitely something that should have been there. The car starts with a typical VAG group thrum. Silent but throaty. Slot the gear lever in D and the car takes off with a sense of urgency. It does not feel all heavy and lethargic. It just shoots ahead.

 

In city limits, the car is very easy to drive. The DSG enables the car to always be in the right gear at the right time so there is no lag anywhere. The engine has an awesome pull from all the revs and it will pull to the red line all day long, more excitedly than a Labrador who meets its owner after days. Due to it being lighter than the Octavia, the A3 does the 0-100 dash in just 7 seconds, couple of mili seconds faster than its Czech counterpart.

Show it a few corners, and you’d be surprised how well this little terrier sticks to the road. The steering is extremely direct. The car changes direction with a certain excitement and is a joy to drive around town. But there is a line drawn by the car, and if you , dare, cross it, then the car will shove u with a dose of understeer. No, this car does not sport the usual Audi Quattro wizardry. It is a plain front wheel drive car. Though again, the computers will come in and save you but if you are really feeling like testing your luck and you do turn off the ESP and ESC, then you better be awake. The car will understeer so much you start to wonder if the car actually wants to turn in or not. But again, reaching such limits on public roads is highly impossible and not advisable. The quick steering is fast but is void of any feel. You’re not sure how much lock to put in when approaching a corner. And that can be a little disconcerting.

Time and time again, I have mentioned the Skoda Octavia in this review. Well, why shouldn’t I? It has the same engine and gearbox. It is much more spacious. It looks better (purely subjective). It is waaaaaay cheaper to buy. And it is cheaper to upkeep. But before you change over, do know this: The A3 goes against the Mercedes Benz CLA. And how does it stack against that? Well, the CLA is much more stylish. It has a much more stylish interior. It has even lesser space. The engine has similar grunt. The CLA is a little more expensive than the A3 but with looks like that, I think it is much more worth the price.

 

So which will I have then between the Audi A3 and the Mercedes Benz CLA?

You guessed it. One Skoda Octavia 1.8 TSi please in Race Blue.

 

And here is the video review of the Audi A3 40 TFSI!

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