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Audi A3
    Change Model
Customer Rating
: 4/5
Expert Rating
: 8/10
Warranty
: N/A (Whichever is earlier)
Ex-showroom price in 
Delhi
 help (Rs.Lakhs)
    Change City
27.78 Lakhs-30 Lakhs

Strong Areas

  • Snob Value
  • Powerful performance 
  • Quality interiors
  • High affordability 
  • Good fuel-efficiency 

Weak Areas

  • Low on equipment
  • Average interiors
  • Mundane steering
  • Lack premium feel of genuine Audi
  • Average handling 
Audi A3
 
 

Audi A3 Facelift Expert Review

The most affordable Audi in India has received a facelift for model year 2017. It comes with cosmetic upgrades, a larger infotainment screen and new steering wheel design. But the petrol engine has been downgraded from 1.8 litre to 1.4 litre unit. 


Author

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ecardlr.com National

Audi’s entry level car - the A3 – has been launched in India at starting price of Rs 30.50 lakh. The model was showcased in 2016 which was also the 20th year for the A3 badge. In Europe the car is also available in forms of 3-door hatchback and sportback apart from the sedan (and cabriolet version) available for India. 
              Sophisticated Technology
Besides the cosmetic changes what’s new about the A3 is its petrol engine. While the 1.2 litre diesel engine (35 TDI) continues to be offered, the 1.8 litre petrol engine for 40 TFSI has been discontinued. The new petrol motor for this saloon is a smaller 1.4 litre unit that generates 148 bhp at 5000- 6000 rpm and 250 Nm of torque at 1500 -3500 rpm. The moniker for the petrol model stands revised to 35 TFSI. Engine is mated to 7 speed DSG gearbox. 
             S-Line-Exterior-Package
What’s new with the design and how’s the drive with the smaller petrol engine? We review the Audi A3 facelift 2017: 


External Impression

The new face of entry level Audi sedan has a broader single frame hexagonal grille. You will see double slats in this design instead of the single bars that make the pre-facelift model’s grille. It also has a chrome lining. The bi-xenon headlamps for the A3 have been revised with jagged bottom edges resembling the pattern for Audi A4’s units.  The integrated dynamic turn indicators in the headlamp cluster give the car an aggressive look. Daytime running lights (DRLs) are LEDs.
           

          S-Line-Exterior-Package
 

You will also see tweaks for the bumper design. It gets slats on corner of the air dam. There is little more chrome here – underscoring the outer edges of the slat.

The dipped nose of the A3 gives it a sporty appeal and it also looks compact when viewed from the front. Its length measures 4458 mm and the wheelbase is 2637 mm. 
 
On the sides the major change is the downsizing of the wheels. The saloon uses 5 spoke, 16 inch alloy wheels with 205/55 R16 tyres as standard. Following a true luxury car custom, the wheel wells get full cladding. Although the A3 has side skirts, its ground clearance is still good. The body coloured outside rear view mirrors (ORVMs) have integrated blinkers that look smart. Window lining is bordered by chrome. 

 

        Xenon-Plus-Headlamps
 

At the rear end of the roof there is a shark fin radio antenna. On the right side of the boot lid you will now see the new badge – 35 TFSI which has replaced 40 TFSI of the pre-facelift car.
 

         Panoramic-Glass-Sunroof

There is a change in the design of the LED tail lamps and these also have dynamic turn blinkers – they swipe in the direction of the turn to be taken. The rear bumper has also been tweaked slightly. It gets a diffuser at the bottom. Parking camera is concealed neatly underneath the grip that opens the boot lid. A3 has dual exhaust chrome tips with black honeycomb pattern surround.


The Cabin Conspectus  

The front doors open in three stages and as you get onto the low slung seat the plush and well designed cabin does impress. Audi has used soft touch materials and the finesse of all interior work cannot go unnoticed. There is still a choice between black and beige upholstery.
       

         Leather-Wrapped-Steering-Wheel

Some minor changes differentiate the cabin of facelift model from the earlier one. The retractable MMI display screen is now standard 7 inches in size for all variants. Earlier it was available as 5.8 inches for the lower and 7 inches for the upper trims. It is not yet a touchscreen and has to be operated via a dial that becomes a command centre for the user.
            

           Colour-Driver-Information-System

The circular AC vents on the dashboard look elegant. A3 has dual zone climate control with sunlight dependent control. The system has automatic recirculation mode regulated by air quality sensor and combined filter.

For this new facelift model the multifunction steering wheel has three instead of four spokes. It feels great to grip and it adjustable for rake + reach. The international variants of A3 have a virtual cockpit in which the whole instrument cluster becomes a navigation screen. But this attribute is not yet available for the Indian car. 
             

           Interior-Lighting

Audi’s German slogan is Vorsprung durch Technik which means advancement through technology. In the A3 too they offer some interesting gadgetry. It's a wireless charging port in the cubby hole between front seats and is called Audi Phone Box.

This is basically an induction charging mechanism to charge mobile phones which work with QI technology (most of the high-end Samsung phones have the feature). For iPhone owners Audi offers a mobile cover (to be bought separately from them) that costs around Rs 1500 to 2000 - it will help in wireless charging of the phone. There are 2 USB inputs and one Aux input above the charging platform. 

        Interior-Lighting

Another change is the internal rear view mirror that is now wider and frameless replacing the oval shaped IRVM. Reading lamps, cabin lamps and vanity mirrors use LEDs. The footwell area is also illuminated by LED. An adequately sized dead pedal has been provided. 

As in the previous model, the front seat cushioning is on the firmer side and both of them have electrical adjustment. The cabin is well planned in terms of ergonomics and all important controls are within easy reach from the seat. Audi still does not offer paddle shifters as it does for international versions of the A3.

On the rear seat all three occupants get 3-point safety belts. ISOFIX is available to fasten infant seat. There is an extra large sized centre armrest with two cup holders. What’s not good is that the legroom on rear seat is restricted. The under-thigh support and headroom for tall passengers are also less. And because of the floor hump, the occupant in the middle may not feel very comfortable.

The boot for A3 has a capacity of 425 litres. Because this is a notchback style, it can expand to 880 litres when the rear seat is pushed down. Even the centre armrest area can be opened both from the cabin and the boot to access the two adjacent areas.


Engine, Transmission and Performance 

The change that will matter the most for Audi A3 buyers in 2017 is that the engine of the petrol model has been changed. This also powers the A4. This smaller engine had to come for the sedan as the 1.8 litre motor used in the previous model has been withdrawn globally.
Diesel-Engine
In this car you do expect a start – stop button and it is given as standard in European models but for India it is still the key fob that cranks up the engine. The 1.4 litre unit is refined at idling and with great insulation, there is no sound getting into the cabin. As you rev it, there is a whine of the smooth petrol motor that indicates upon its free revving nature.

This engine also has adequate torque (peak being 250 Nm) to lug the sedan. It is coupled with 7 speed DSG transmission that’s called S-Tronic in Audi’s dictionary. In the D mode there is little lag initially but once the proper rev range is reached the power gets instantly delivered in a smooth and linear way. Driving in the city is effortless and automatic gearbox responds well to close the gaps. The D mode is perfect for relaxed driving in the city.
    
         Petrol-Engine
It is on moving to the S mode that enthusiastic drive starts. This is when the gearbox holds on to revs for longer and the car responds well to throttle inputs. However, those who have driven the A3 with the 1.8 litre engine will long for the same fun. In S and Tiptronic transmission modes, the shifts are quick and neat.

Tiptronic mode is good to use on highways as it helps you keep control of the gears and rev levels. This also makes overtaking easy. Remember that this 7 speed DSG is infamous for being prone to breakdowns so has to be used carefully. You will miss the paddle shifters.

The peak power output of 148 bhp is good enough and the A3 feels peppy. After the change to 1.4 litre engine this car is about 100 kg lighter in kerb weight. It goes from 0 to 100 km/hour in 8.2 seconds. The difference between the two as regards their acceleration is that the 2017 model A3 has a great pick-up but the older sedan was faster.
          Transmission-S-Tronic
An important feature of the 1.4 litre TFSI is its cylinder on demand (COD) mode. While being driven with a light foot or in coasting, the ECU deactivates two cylinders which helps in improving fuel efficiency. And the switch from 4 cylinder mode to 2 cylinder mode is seamless! It’s just that while driving the car at different speeds, you may not be able to see when the instrument console displays ‘2 Cylinder Mode’. The engine just shifts into this mode as per some particular parameters and getting them exactly right is not easy. Furthermore, we can’t say as to what will be the actual gain in terms of fuel economy (FE). The smaller 1.4 litre engine anyways has a better FE than the 1.8 litre unit in the older car. The ARAI certified figure for the facelifted Audi a3 petrol is 19.20 km/litre.


Ride and Handling 

The suspension for A3 is same across diesel and petrol models. For the front it has McPherson struts with lower wishbones and an all-aluminium subframe. At the rear there is a multi-link suspension that leads to better overall dynamics than torsion beam set up.

Ride quality of this car is compliant but not plush. The firm edge to suspension is felt at low speeds. Even the 17 inch wheels don’t help much and sharp bumps do get absorbed into the cabin. Ride quality is better at higher speeds and the A3 runs flat on highways. You don’t need to slow down much on uneven tarmac.

There is a ‘rough road package’ that gives Indian A3 more ground clearance than its international versions. In spite of this the handling is competent. The DNA of a solid European car is a part of it. Tyre grip levels are also solid and A3 stays on track even with hard cornering. This stable behaviour inspires confidence and with its smaller size than other Audis, the A3 is easy to maneuvere. 

The suspension is quick to regain its composure when you hit road undulations. There is a set of electronic safety features such as ESC, ASR and ABS that watch over the driving style and get activated if there is a need for their support. The electric steering has a poorer feedback than what the BMW offers but within the city it is light enough to operate. Nevertheless it is light enough to operate.

Braking action is good thanks to discs on all 4 wheels. The bite from the pedal is good and the car stops in a straight line, even if the brakes are pressed from high speed.


Verdict

The switch to a smaller engine is to reduce basket emission levels for the whole Audi line up. We may have smaller engines in other Audi cars too. The 1.8 litre engine has already been withdrawn worldwide. So the Audi A3 is still a nice luxurious car, more so for the chauffeur driven. Only the power and performance will be missed by the enthusiasts. But there is another logic in downsizing the engine. There were not many buyers for the pre-facelift petrol A3 – it accounted for less than 10% of total A3 sales.
 
The price now begins at Rs 30.50 lakh for the 35 TFSI Premium Plus and goes up to Rs 34.25 lakh for 35 TFSI Technology (prices ex showroom Delhi). This smart looking luxury sedan is not a bad choice to upgrade to the segment.

Comfort: 3.5/5
Refinement: 4/5
Safety: 4/5
Ride: 3.5/5
Handling: 3.5/5
Value for Money: 3.5/5

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