This is the new Audi A3. Don’t fret if you struggle to spot what’s new because calling this facelift mild is to be generous with the word. Then again there wasn’t much wrong with the A3 to begin with so the list of updates is rather short.
On the styling front the A3 gets those slashes under the headlamps that is inspired by the new A4, making it look even more similar to the A4 than before. The bumpers are more chiselled, the grille sharper, there’s a new LED graphic for the tail lamps and it gets those cool dynamic indicators from the R8. There’s also a new design for the 16-inch alloys. On the inside there’s a new steering wheel that looks more sporty with a smaller boss, but that also makes it quite a stretch for the thumb to comfortably toot the horn. And that’s it for visual updates.
The engines carry over unchanged but the big news is that the 1.4TSI petrol gets cylinder deactivation. Under part load the four-cylinder engine effectively becomes a two-cylinder saving fuel and resulting in an ARAI-certified fuel efficiency of 19.2kmpl. That’s a whopping 2.6kmpl jump over the previous motor and quite excellent for a petrol engine. When all four cylinders are firing you get a total of 148bhp and 250Nm of torque making for a 0-100kmph sprint in 8.2 seconds.
The diesel engine carries over unchanged, the 2-litre motor making 141 bhp and 320Nm of torque. It has a claimed 0-100kmph time of 8.7seconds and an identical top speed of 224kmph. And on the fuel efficiency front it returns an ARAI-certified figure of 20.38kmpl.
Which begs the question, with there being only a ten rupee price difference between petrol and diesel, and now only a 1kmpl difference in the fuel efficiency, what could motivate you to spend four lakh more rupees on the diesel A3 apart from the fact that you could only get the fully-loaded trim on the diesel variant of the previous A3.
We drove both the diesel and the petrol on the lovely Beach Road outside Vizag and the first thing that strikes you is the brilliant ride quality. The Beach Road is being widened and you’re constantly shifting lanes or rumbling over speedbreakers and the A3 takes it all rather brilliantly. It’s thanks to suspension that has been raised so much that the ride height is almost like an SUV (Audi refused to reveal how much the ground clearance has gone up by). It also leaves a rather ungainly gap in the wheelarch spoiling the lovely styling of the A3.
The raised ride height also means you can hear the suspension extending fully when you go hard and fast over bumps. At speed over an undulating road it does float a bit, a consequence of standing on its tippy-toes and not sitting firmly on its dampers, but overall road manners are very good indeed.
The steering isn’t brimming with feedback but is quite up to the task of handling 150 horses without much torque steer courtesy it being front-wheel drive. As for how the engines perform the turbo-petrol is obviously more enthusiastic and eager to rev while also being very relaxed in cruise more. You can’t make out when the cylinders deactivate or reactivate and that’s exactly how it should be. This is the same engine (without cylinder deactivation) as in the A4 but with the A3 being lighter the motor has less weight to lug around and consequently feels more enthusiastic and eager. It is mated to the 7-speed twin-clutch automatic while the diesel gets the 6-speed auto.
Not that the diesel feels unrefined. In fact this is one of the most refined and silent engines in its class with enough go to match the show. It’s just the petrol motor is the personal preference of your petrol head correspondent.
Prices are yet to be announced but don’t expect it to change much from the current 27lakh for the petrol and 31lakh for the diesel – prices that get you a really nice introduction to the world of luxury motoring.