The good thing is, this visual spice is backed up by real ability. Around town, the A3 is very refined. There’s no interruption to power from the 1.5-litre engine – the dual-clutch gearbox is, as expected, almost seamless and the start-stop system now refined to be just as jerk-free.
150hp and 320Nm aren’t eye-opening figures, but the A3 Sedan is quick on its feet (0-100km/h in well under nine seconds) and an excellent handling car as well. The suspension and steering are well-sorted, and it gives away very little to its BMW rival, the 2 Series Gran Coupe.
But more power and being non-Cat A doesn’t mean the A3 is a guzzler. Like the new Golf, the 1.5-litre turbo drivetrain is now mild-hybrid enabled, and has cylinder deactivation as well. In our test drive, we never switched to Eco mode and kept it in Comfort or Sport, and the A3 Sedan delivered an impressive 6.4L/100km with a 30/70 mix of city and highway driving. In other words, technology advancements mean the car is more powerful than the old 1.4, but also more efficient.
Less of a plus is the slight jiggly-ness of the ride, not quite as bad as a humping, thumping SUV but still enough to be noticed over long distances, as well as significant tyre noise above 80km/h. But we can chalk that down to the wheels and tyres: The test car wears optional 18-inch Audi Sport design wheels, and the stock Pirelli Cinturato P7 rubber, which was also equally noisy on the Sportback. Changing to an aftermarket touring tyre should help this.
Our second grips is that the A3 has a decent, but not particularly generous equipment list – as noted on the Sportback review, AEB and lane departure warning is present, but there’s no adaptive cruise or steering assist, nor blind spot monitoring.
Otherwise, the Audi A3 Sedan is a big improvement over what it used to be, good enough to outgrow the Category A worries. That’s always a plus, but our advice is – if you’re already spending more than S$160k on a car, then Cat A cost-mitigation may not be entirely logical.
The A3 Sedan is also priced well: Mercedes does have the A 180 sedan (S$169,888 with COE) which is a Cat A car and has lots of Merc pluses, but it’s less nice to drive and actually drinks more fuel. BMW’s 218i Gran Coupe brings more exciting style and driving fun to the table at a higher cost at S$200,888 with COE.
Rising COE prices means all cars are more expensive these days, but if you look at our 2014 review of the A3 Sedan, the car was S$170k then too in an era of high COE prices. What’s clear here is that, inflation aside, you get much more for the same money.
|Engine||1,498cc inline 4, turbocharged|
|Power||150hp at 5000-6000rpm|
|Torque||250Nm at 1500-3500rpm|
|VES Band||A2 / -S$15,000|
|Price||S$167,300 with COE and VES|
|Verdict||More polish, poise and power, but also more efficient and less staid than before|