Want a new, premium, mid-exec four-door saloon with four rings on the grill, but are scared off by the premium, mid-exec price tag? Well, Audi has something of a solution – the new A3 Sedan.
In fact, I’d venture so far as to suggest it might be a better option than the A4. It is, after all, not much smaller, and better packaged, than an A4 from a generation or two ago. But more on that later…
The A3 Sedan was the third model added to the new A3 range, the recently launched convertible being the fourth. But, while that and the two hatchback variants might appeal to a somewhat younger-at-heart buyer, the Sedan is smarter; more mature even. Yes, it looks like every other contemporary Audi on the road, but that tailored suit seems to hug the A3 Sedan’s frame a bit tighter. It looks sharper, neater, more dynamic.
And sharp and dynamic it is – the A3 striking a good balance between feeling light on its feet and offering up a good ride. Despite having a solid suspension set up, most road imperfections are damped out well. Its smaller dimensions also mean turn-in is crisp and the chassis offers good grip and control.
The vehicle delivered was the 110 kW, 350 Nm 2,0 TDI S tronic. It’s a quiet, smooth diesel that pulls as strongly as the figures suggest. In fact, I made use of the car as an emergency tow vehicle and the engine and gearbox didn’t so much as skip a beat.
That seven-speed double-clutch gearbox, too, is smooth, sharp and responsive; keeping the engine on the boil and enhancing the driving experience. Official performance figures are a 0-100 km/h sprint in 8,4 seconds and a 224 km/h top speed.
Also fitted to enhance the drive is Audi Drive Select, allowing one to choose between comfort, efficiency and dynamic modes. Leaving the car in its auto setting does the trick most of the time, though I found that switching over to efficiency gives a more relaxed drive that suits the engine’s characteristics nicely.
Speaking of efficiency, I averaged 7,9 l/100 km in mixed driving during my time with the car. A figure that’s not too shabby but, with a lighter foot, can definitely be further improved upon (Audi claims the TDI will average 4,5 l/100 km). It’s also an exceptionally clean engine, emitting a scant 118 g/km CO2.
But what of the rest of the car, does buying down mean losing out? Well, no, the A3 Sedan comes well spec’d with features including: automatic wipers and lights; automatic dual-zone climate control; a very detailed colour driver information system and Audi’s Multimedia Interface (MMI) that features Bluetooth, voice control, a DVD player and a high-resolution, seven-inch screen that slides out from the dash.
The dash itself is exceptionally minimalistic, with almost everything, excepting features like the climate control and audio volume, being controlled by the MMI. Typical of Audi, it’s all put together with fastidious levels of quality; every touchpoint feeling premium.
The interior is also rather roomy, with good space all round, except perhaps rear headroom for the more lanky types. That minimalist look to the interior has a slight downside, though, offering up a bit less stowage space than expected. That DVD player, for example, takes pride of place in the cubby hole. The boot, however, measures a large 425 litres.
The A3 Sedan, then, really is an attractive alternative to the slightly larger A4. It’s exceptionally well proportioned, more than spacious enough, as light on its feet as a smaller car should be yet as comfortable as a larger car, and offers all the features one needs.
R386 500 (including Audi’s five-year/100 000 km maintenance plan) for the 2,0 TDI S tronic might seem a bit steep, but then one could always consider one of the cheaper petrol models. Compared to the larger A4, the A3 Sedan range represents something of a bargain.