We drove the Audi A3 Sedan 35 TFSI: cleverness in elegant motion…

Driving an Audi is always something very special. You are surrounded by German perfection, enjoying the touch of top notch materials and the sight of clean cabin styling and instruments. The steering wheel transmits agility and handling precision into your fingers, the engine responds eagerly to the slightest movement of your right foot. You hear an efficient throb, even if it isn’t the five cylinder anymore. Yes, an Audi. The second generation A3 sedan which was introduced in the spring of this year continues the tradition. It has style, breathes German high-tech panache, feels built to last, and is elegant down to the smallest detail.

Here we drove for you the 35 TFSI 1,5 litre petrol with the 7 speed S tronic, which is assisted a bit with regenerated E-power…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

Slender facelift

The latest A3 has been upgraded somewhat, remaining however well within the classic Audi styling mold. Its wheelbase remained the same, just the body got now 4 centimeters (1.6 in) longer at 4.50 meters, and it is 2 cm wider. A concave surface under the broad body shoulder make the A3 look more punchy and leaner. The roof line slopes down coupé like from the B- and finishes in a striking spoiler on the tailgate, which is optionally available in carbon.

The new A3 Sedan achieves a Cd value of 0.25 and is therefore 0.04 Cd points better than the first generation. All this thanks to attention to detail: there is a controllable cooling-air inlet with two electrically actuated louver modules behind the Single frame grille…

In the cabin, the instrument panel with the central MMI touch display is inclined slightly toward the driver. It has a 10.1-inch diagonal and includes handwriting detection as well as natural language control that can optionally draw on the capabilities of the cloud. The 10.25-inch instrument cluster behind the steering wheel is digital even in the basic model. Wow! We simply love also the clean instrument styling of these digital displays.

Of course, there is “Audi virtual cockpit plus”. The screen then measures 12.3 inches and offers three different views, including sporty graphics with inclined digits and a particularly dynamic layout. The RPM and speed are shown here as bar diagrams with angular red graphical elements. Upon request, a head-up display is available, we had it on our test car.

Driving the Audi: sharp, alert, precise…

Be inspired behind the wheel. This car responds beautifully when you steer it with verve. The 1.5-liter direct injection engine produces 110 kW (150 PS) between 5 and 6000 rpm, and has plenty of pulling power across the mid rev range. Torque is 250 Nm between 1500 – 3500 rpm. The 7 speed S Tronic makes you a better driver. You hurtle from 0 to 100 km/h in 8,4 seconds, and become a top player on the German Autobahnen: top speed is 232 km/h.

The suspension supports all this sportiness superbly. We left the drive select function in our test car mostly in the “comfort” position, and even then, you steer with precision and uncanny agility. Selecting a dynamic position will influence damper settings, steering and throttle response. But there is also an “eco” setting…

Indeed, with the S Tronic automatic, the car can coast when you lift the throttle. This led the Audi people to adopt here brake regeneration alongside the obvious coasting function. They installed a 48-volt mild hybrid system, which supports the engine with up to 50 Nm (36.9 lb-ft) of torque when driving off and accelerating from low engine speeds. It also allows the A3 Sedan to switch the engine off while coasting. Drive with anticipation, and you will be amazed in how many situations you can put the kinetic energy of your Audi to (very) good use.

We also appreciated the utter smoothness when this Audi switches from shut down coasting to revving engine power. It was not perceptible, and that is no small feat!  We achieved quite creditable consumption figures in sedate town driving, between 6 and 7 liters/100 km. Of course, on the open road, the Audi is efficient, and when driven at legal limits you can achieve anything between 5 and 6 liters/100 km. Audi quotes 4.9 – 4.7 l/100 km and combined CO2-emissions of 113-107 g/km.

You remain highly connected in your Audi…

The top infotainment system in the new A3 Sedan is the MMI Navigation plus, which uses the third-generation modular infotainment platform (MIB 3). The MIB 3 boasts computing power ten times higher than in the predecessor model, connects the car via LTE Advanced speed, and connects the smartphones of the passengers to the Internet via Wi-Fi hotspot. The MMI Navigation plus offers a multitude of Audi connect services as standard, including online traffic information, news, and additional information such as photos, opening times, and user reviews relating to points of interest.

The A3 Sedan is also connected to the smartphone via the Audi smartphone interface, which integrates iOS and Android cell phones with Apple Car Play and Android Auto in the MMI, as well as via Audi phone box. The latter connects the device to the car antenna and can charge it inductively.

Did you know that if the car is switched off, the myAudi app continues navigation from the car on a smartphone? This way, customers reaches their destination directly.

What is more, the A3 Sedan can be locked and unlocked as well as started via an Android smartphone with the Audi connect key. Personalization allows up to six users to store their preferred settings in individual profiles, including those for the seat, climate control and media.

The DAB+ digital radio comes as standard. Options include online radio and the hybrid radio, which automatically switches between FM, DAB, and the online stream depending on a station’s signal strength, thus ensuring optimum reception. We enjoyed the music in this Audi, for sure…

Conclusion

Convincing, if you like superb finish, build quality, clean timeless styling and last but not least an engaging driving experience. This sedan will underline what you stand for, will age (very) well and give you owner and driving pleasure every day you live with it. It doesn’t come very cheap, more so when you delve deeply into the extra’s, but reliability, longevity, high resale value and therefore low depreciation are also things you have to take into account when considering the overall running costs for this quality car. Drive it cleverly in town, and it is there quite frugal too…

Hans Knol ten Bensel

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