Driven - March 2017

Audi A3 Facelift Driven Review

Audi recently facelifted the A3 and while the changes are only design based, I was still interested to get behind Audi’s entry level A3 with its 1.0-litre Turbo engine.

The updates to the A3 consist of updated designs for the headlights and taillights, with some slight bumper design adjustments which completes the changes to the exterior elements.

The overall improvements provide a sportier and more dynamic look, this can be improved further with the optional S-line kit, which I must say looked fantastic on the test vehicle I was driving.

In my opinion, the interior on the A3 has always been fairly simple. The dashboard provides a streamlined and clean design with the motorised digital screen as a central element. The controls for the Audi MMI system are all featured on the centre console between the front driver and passenger seats. The buttons and scroll dial which are situated here are very easy to access and also have a simple, non complicated layout.

Interior designs on some vehicles can seem very cluttered with buttons everywhere, and with technology inside cars increasing at a fast rate, it’s good to see that Audi have this all under control.

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!

The cabin is finished with metal, leather and alcantara. It has a very premium and well-built feel, which is a very important factor in a premium hatchback. The sport seats, which are an optional extra, are a great addition in terms of the visual appeal. They are wide and support the body well with good bolstering, but I feel that the only need for them on a 1.0 vehicle is purely for the visual element. I can’t see these cars being thrashed around the racetrack anytime soon.

Earlier, I touched on the fact that technology has become a big part of the automotive industry, and Audi has its fair share. Some buyers may choose one brand over the other, depending on what latest technology is available.

The Audi A3 features the full media system with  7”screen including MMI navigation. Audi’s system works well with many features of the A3 being controlled from the system interface, such as lighting and other vehicle settings.

Carplay/ AndroidAuto also features in this vehicle – simply connecting a phone will enable it automatically, with the mobile styled display popping up on the screen and giving the driver easy access to contacts, maps, music and more. With CarPlay, hitting the voice control button on the steering wheel will activate your best friend, Siri, and as always, you can ask her anything you like. If you are unsure on how Carplay works or what it does, you can read our article on it here:

Audi Pilot Assist has to be my favorite feature.The classic dash and dials are replaced with a full digital display. Speed, rpm, fuel, economy figures, media, navigation and so forth are all displayed in digital format.The driver can change what they see and how they see it.

I enjoyed the map view, with the speed and rpm displays retracting into smaller dials in the corner. The maps/navigation then fills the rest of the display which looks very futuristic, although you can lose track of speed, it happened to me once or twice. Zooming in and out and changing views and menus are all accessed of the steering wheel controls, which becomes natural once you have used it for a short while.

 

Behind the Wheel 

I was surprised by the 1.0l turbocharged motor, the 85kw it produced was used well and at times the car had a nippy kind of feel. The power is delivered through a six-speed manual gearbox and as you can expect from an audi vehicle, it was smooth and focused.

What stood out to me with this setup was the A3’s ability to pick up nicely and gain speed when cruising on the highway in 6th gear.  The small engine did not come across as if it was straining and it made overtaking easy, without changing down to 5th.

There are, however, a few drawbacks with this engine.When pulling off, the A3 needs revs to get going, and if you short change from 1st to 2nd at low rpm or on a slight incline, the car struggles for a few seconds, before picking up again. I had this issue mainly below 1800 rpm before the boost really kicks in.  This was really the only issue I had, and overall the 1.0l TFSI performed well from a driving perspective.

From an economic perspective, though, there is another side to the story. You may have read that some manufacturers are now looking at going back in the direction of higher cc engines. It has come to light that these small turbocharged motors do give really good fuel economy figures, but only in perfect, controlled environments. In day to day life, in environments that are beyond the manufacturer’s control, they are not that great.

During my time with the A3, the figures I produced were around 8.0-9.0 l/100km. I was mainly driving in an urban environment and was at times heavy on the throttle. With perfect economical driving the figure would definitely be lower, but how much lower is the question? Driving on South African roads brings its own challenges which doesn’t often lend to being more economical.

 

The Problem

My biggest issue with the Audi A3 is the price. The starting price for this model is R390,000. For this, one gets a lot of car, a well built, reliable German machine. The list price on the test vehicle I was driving was R520,000.

Thats a big difference, the reason being is this specific vehicle had a range of optional extras fitted.  Now, not all of those optional extras are actually needed. Items such as the sport seats and S-Line suspension are not of paramount importance, especially on a 85 kW car. Some of the other optional extras, though, you might actually want.

Options such as the Premium Audi Sound System, Navigation and CarPlay, Panoramic Sunroof, the S-line exterior kit which gives the car another dimension in terms of styling. Let’s also not forget the 20” alloy wheels and Audi Pilot Assist.
This means that a buyer will be paying around R500k for a 1.0L vehicle. Yes, its turbocharged and has a power output similar to that of a 1400 or 1600 cc Naturally aspirated engine, but it is still a 1.0L engine.

This is definitely a brand orientated car, and that is exactly what you will be paying for, the badge.Saying that, the Audi A3 is a great car and vehicles across the board are becoming more expensive. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it, it was lovely to drive and overall a really good experience. If you are happy to spend this kind of money, you will have a great car. Personally, though, it’s just too much for me.

Enquire about a new or used Audi vehicle at Audi Centurion here!