2014 Audi A3 Test Drive Review

With demand for vehicles in the premium segment growing, Audi has just stirred up the market by launching its new entry-level sedan, the A3. The A3 is slotted below the A4 but it shares its platform and engines with the Skoda Octavia. The A3 is priced really higher than the Octavia since Indians wouldn’t really mind paying a premium for the Audi badge. Also, it seems like a good strategy from Audi to launch an entry-level sedan rather than an entry-level hatchback which Mercedes and BMW launched. While the A-Class got good sales, the 1-Series tanked miserably.

How does the Audi A3 fair against the Skoda Superb, Mercedes A-Class and BMW 1-Series? Let us find out.

The Audi A3 carries premium styling and yet it looks slightly compact in size. The body lines are clean and typical Audi style. The premium feeling is carried over to the interiors too. The quality of materials is very good and the design philosophy gels well with the car. The Skoda Superb is a looker! The side profile may make it look like a limousine but the sedan carries good road presence. The interiors are beautifully designed and carry oodles of space. The Mercedes A-Class is one of the best looking hatchbacks available on sale. The exteriors look appealing while the interiors carry a youthful and sporty theme. The BMW 1-Series looks the most boring here. While the front is typical BMW, the rear reminds us of the Volkswagen Polo. The interiors also feel relatively basic.

All the four mentioned vehicles here come with petrol and diesel engine choices. While the A3 and Superb come with 1.8-litre TFSI and TSI petrol engines respectively, the A-Class and 1-Series both get 1.6-litre units. The A3 is the most powerful here while the A-Class produces the least power. The A3 and Superb produce identical torque followed by the 1-Series. Again, the A-Class produces the least torque. The Audi A3 and Mercedes A-Class come with 7-speed gearboxes and the 1-Series gets an 8-speed transmission. The Superb is the only one that comes with a 6-speed manual tranny while a 7-speed DSG is also offered.

Coming to diesel engines, the A3, Superb and 1-Series get 2.0-litre oil-burners. The same engine is shared by the A3 and Superb but the A3 produces marginally higher power. The 1-Series matches the A3 in power and torque. The A-Class produces the least power and torque while the other three produce similar peak torque. The A3 and Superb get the same 6-speed wet-clutch DSG unit while the A-Class gets a 7-speed ‘box and the 1-Series gets an 8-speed transmission.

Since these vehicles are positioned in the premium luxury segment, they come with a host of features. The Audi A3 gets goodies like xenon lamps, light and rain sensors, automatic headlight range adjustment, rear parking aid, Audi Pre Sense basic, Audi Music Interface with Audi Sound System, MMI Navigation Plus, Bluetooth connectivity and an optional panoramic sunroof. The A3 gets head and side airbags for both front and rear.

The Skoda Superb too is loaded to the gills with features like Bi-xenon headlights and halogen projectors, Adaptive Frontlight System, Hill Hold Control, Mechanical and Hydraulic Brake Assistants, front and rear parking sensors, rough road package, cornering fog lamps and a lot more. The Superb also gets eight airbags and other safety tech like ASR, EDL, TCS, ESC and ABS.

The Mercedes A-Class is nicely loaded with gizmos. It gets Bi-xenon headlights and Flare effect LED DRLs, sports seats, ECO start stop system, TIREFIT inflation compressor, etc. Safety features include ESP, ASR, BAS, Hill Hold, ATTENTION ASSIST, front and side impact airbags for driver and passenger, window airbags for all front and rear passengers and knee airbag for driver.

The BMW 1-Series is slightly low on equipment. The top variant gets rear AC vents, xenon headlights with washer, HiFi loudspeaker, Bi-xenon lights with four LED DRL rings, BMW ConnectedDrive and iDrive. Safety tech includes front, head and side airbags for front passenger and drive, BMW Condition Based Service, Cornering Brake Control and DSC with DTC.

Audi A3 vs Audi A4 – People keep asking us what would we prefer between the two. The A3 is smaller than the A4 but both of them look similar in overall design. They share the same engines too, albeit in different sates of tune. The 2.0-litre TDI unit on the A3 produces 145 PS while the same engine generates 180 PS on the A4. Again, torque is higher in the A4 at 380 Nm compared to 320 Nm on the A3. Apart from this, the A4 gets additional features than the A3. The price different between both these sedans is really huge. The A3 diesel costs Rs. 22.95-32.66 lakhs while the A4 diesel costs Rs. 35.45-29.01 lakhs.

This segment will see a really tough fight now. While people looking for the most bang for their buck will get the Skoda Superb, those who want to pay extra for snob value will prefer the Audi A3 sedan. Since the A-Class is a hatchback, it will find lesser buyers as the market is not ready for Rs. 30 lakh hatchbacks as much as they are for compact luxury sedans. The 1-Series loses out here because it doesn’t offer much for the price that it commands. Only pure driving enthusiasts will give this hatch a second look.

Audi A3 vs Skoda Superb vs Mercedes A-Class vs BMW 1-Series – Comparison (Petrol)

A3 vs Superb vs A-Class vs 1-Series Petrol Comparison

Audi A3 vs Skoda Superb vs Mercedes A-Class vs BMW 1-Series – Comparison (Diesel)

A3 vs Superb vs A-Class vs 1-Series Diesel Comparison

*(all prices are ex-showroom, Delhi)

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