The Teutonic brands have always been overseers of brilliant design. And the A3 doesn’t deviate from their characteristics of perfectionism. Nor does it merely “tick the boxes” – this car performs extraordinarily well in every category. The added junk in the trunk gives it a more substantial feel too.
The Audi A3 Sedan is a charming and elegant car. Like its siblings, it’s recognisable as an Audi before one even sees the interlinked rings. Slight curves and smooth edges have been incorporated into the petite sedan’s lightweight aluminum metalwork.
Its face, sporting those striking LED daytime-running lights and xenon globes, boast a classy look. In comparison to the Mercedes-Benz, it might not be as flashy: but as Audi has consistently shown, these more subdued designs tend to age better. There’s no doubt this will still look fashionable after a decade.
Nor is the interior as flashy. Instead, driver and passengers are surrounded by an inherent sense of sturdiness and quality. Rear passengers with long legs are unlikely to be as comfortable though. For the person in the power seat, finding a sweet spot in the comfortable and supportive chair is easy.
Layout and toys
As with any German car, the list of optional toys is extensive. Although Audi seems to have put in a greater effort with the standard stuff this time. It has their Multi Media Interface with a screen that pops up in a space-age way, making the driver feel like she’s piloting an aircraft – especially with the jet-engine inspired vents to validate the look. Dual-zone climate control and Bluetooth are also standard.
Our test unit was outfitted with a number of additional niceties. Add a hefty R22 200 if you want a navigation system. Even cruise control isn’t part of the package – you’ll pay R3100 more. A single cable enabling iPod and USB connectivity is R2000 while a sunroof, which is always a welcomed feature, costs R10 800.
Behind the wheel
It’s an absolute pleasure to pilot. The Mercedes-Benz which we tested earlier this year is easily beaten in terms of ride quality. Handling is superb: always stable no matter what antics you throw at it.
On test here is the 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol derivative. It’s fairly effortless around town. Gliding to 100km/h is seamless especially with the S-tronic semi-automatic transmission and the well-insulated cabin which dampens the sense of speed.
Push the accelerator down and it gives the impression of a cheeky puppy, raring to nip at the heels of more powerful cars. The A3 Sedan tackles sharp corners with vigour and feels firmly planted at all speeds.
Pricing and conclusion
Our 1.4 TFSI S-tronic test unit has a base asking price of R366 500. If you want a model with more niceties and visual charisma closer to the ones in the glossy brochures, expect to pay a bit more. But this is undoubtedly the one to have versus the Mercedes-Benz CLA, which is slightly more expensive, has a more miserly specification level and a poorer ride quality.
The Technical Stuff:
Model: 2014 Audi A3 Sedan 1.4 TFSI S-tronic
Price: R366 500
Engine: 1.4-litre, four-cylinder, petrol, turbocharged
Power and Torque: 90kW and 200Nm
Fuel Consumption: 8l/100km (Achieved)
Test Mileage: 508 kilometres
Praises: Well-built, attractive styling, supremely good handling, effortless yet fun drive.
Gripes: Cramped rear, limited outward visibility, pricey extras.