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The new A3 Sedan impresses with a smooth and refined drive, a sharp design and a premium-feeling cabin with excellent functionality.

28 Jul 2021


The new fourth generation Audi A3, offered both in Sportback and Sedan bodystyles, finds itself caught in a somewhat tight situation.

Obviously, it shares the same VW Group MQB Evo platform as the recently launched Volksagen Golf and Skoda Octavia, so it will draw inevitable comparisons to those cars, even though it's certainly a step above (if not quality-wise, certainly price-wise). At the same time, Audi also pits itself against its fellow German rivals, which means that this car has the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class squarely in its sights.

That's… a lot of competition. Can it stand out?

Lean and taut

Audi has made the A3 a sharper and sleeker compact sedan
The Sedan certainly looks good. It's grown slightly longer, and that emphasises its sleek lines and sharp proportions.

Our test car also came with some additional sporty touches that give it a whiff of an S3, what with the chrome finishing on the air intakes, as well as 18-inch Audi Sport rims (the standard car rides on 17s).

Inside, changes are significant. As with the rest of the Group's products, digitisation has clearly taken over. You get a 12.3-inch Digital Cockpit, as well as a 10.1-inch infotainment system. You adjust audio volume using a touch control wheel not unlike the classic iPods (remember those things?).

Thankfully, there are still physical controls for some essential functions, like air-con fan speed
However, unlike the Golf and Octavia, there are notably more physical buttons still available, and that's a good thing. Functions like adjusting fan speed and air-con temperature are much simpler to do. I also happen to think that the Audi infotainment interface, though unchanged, still functions much more intuitively than its cousins'.

Is it the most premium, high-class space? No, not quite. You get a mix of hard plastics and leather, and while the combination is well-composed, it's not quite as premium-feeling as the more expensive models in Audi's stable.

As far as space goes, the A3 sedan is suitable for a small family. Rear legroom is reasonable, but the middle seat is best left for children. The 425-litre boot is also plentiful for a small family.

Smooth sport

The new 1.5-litre mild-hybrid powertrain delivers smooth and efficient performance
Powering the new A3 is the same mild-hybrid 1.5-litre powertrain found in the new Golf and the Octavia. With 148bhp and 250Nm of torque, there's plenty of accessible and usable performance.

However, the A3 does feel a little lighter on its feet (it is lighter than both the Golf and the Octavia), and especially when coasting with the engine switched off, feels smoother. The 48V mild hybrid system is also able to provide 9kW and 50Nm of torque to assist the engine, and it is actually detectable at low revs.

As a result, the A3 feels very peppy to drive, aided by well-judged steering and composed handling. The A3 also uses a multi-link rear suspension, which makes for a very composed ride.

The 48V mild-hybrid system allows the car to coast with the engine switched off
Of course, the mild-hybrid system is supposed to help make the car more efficient. I managed 14km/L over three days of driving.

The noise insulation of the A3 is also very good (certainly better than the Golf and the Octavia). All in all, the A3 drives like you expect an Audi to - comfortable, refined and superbly smooth.

Sweet spot

So, how does the A3 fare against complicated competition? Among its MQB Evo brethren, it's quite easily and clearly the most sophisticated and upmarket choice. I think the Octavia's all-around size and practicality might be more value-for-money, but against the Golf I think the A3 makes a very compelling case.

The new A3 Sedan impresses with its high drive refinement and attractive overall proposition
Against the German competition? The A-Class Saloon is this A3 Sedan's most direct competitor, and I think the A3 is most certainly a step ahead as far as driveability and usability. The 1 Series may be sportier to drive, but in 116i guise it's down on power, and its design is still slightly controversial.

So, more than just being a middle ground option, I think the A3 Sedan is a very compelling choice. It looks sharp, feels premium, drives well, and gives you everything you want out of a compact sedan. It strikes a surprisingly sweet spot, and that makes it a really attractive choice.

Car Information

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Audi A3 Sedan Mild Hybrid 1.5 TFSI S tronic (A)
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Price

: $169,415

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1498cc

Horsepower

:

-

Torque

:

250 Nm / 3500 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) S tronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

8.4sec

Top Speed

:

232km/h

Fuel consumption

:

unknown

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audi  audi a3  a3  a3 sedan  audi sedan  audi a3 sedan  sedan,