AUDI A3 35 TDI

We drive the new A3 but in its diesel avatar

Car India - - CONTENTS - Story: Ravi Chand­nani Pho­tog­ra­phy: San­jay Raikar

Afew months ago I was driv­ing the new Audi A3 in Vizag and it was a splen­did ex­pe­ri­ence. Re­cently we got our hands on the diesel vari­ant, which is pow­ered by the VW Group’s highly ca­pa­ble 2.0-litre TDI en­gine. Af­ter driv­ing it around for a few days this is what we have to say.

The A3 is a de­light­ful car and the new one feels noth­ing less than ex­cep­tional. This mid-life facelift has given the car a more sporty and youth­ful ap­peal. How­ever, the new de­sign doesn’t over­power the fam­ily look. The new front end fea­tures chis­elled head­lamps with sharp edges that high­light ge­om­e­try in mo­tion. The trade­mark di­a­mond grille looks stu­pen­dously al­lur­ing and the new bumper gives the new A3 an ex­tra edge in the styling depart­ment.

At the back, how­ever, changes are rather dif­fi­cult to make out. But look closely and you will no­tice that the fa­mil­iar-look­ing tail­lamps ac­tu­ally fea­ture a new lay­out that is re­mark­ably beau­ti­ful. Much of the tail-gate re­mains the same as be­fore, but it dons a new ‘35 TDI’ badge. A new split­ter com­pletes the fi­nal changes in the small list of aes­thetic updates. These changes on the out­side might not seem like much; how­ever, Audi have al­ways been con­ser­va­tive in their ap­proach to de­sign and aes­thet­ics, at least with their main­stream prod­ucts. Over­all, the changes are pretty neat as they lend the A3 a more con­tem­po­rary look that will at­tract more eye­balls.

In­side, Audi have re­tained the same charm that the old A3 had. The cabin is a sim­ple-look­ing place but the use of high-qual­ity ma­te­ri­als and ut­terly fine fit-and-fin­ish make it a very warm and wel­com­ing cabin. The up­hol­stery is made from re­ally high­qual­ity leather that rep­re­sents the classi­ness we ex­pect from a brand like Audi. The plas­tics, too, are re­ally top-notch, es­pe­cially the soft-touch bits cov­er­ing the dash­board. The most beau­ti­ful aes­thetic touch in­side comes in the form of the jet tur­binein­spired air-con vents that add to the charm of the dash­board. We also love the seven-inch pop-up screen that rises from the dash­board the mo­ment you start the car. It looks and func­tions flaw­lessly. Audi’s MMI (Multi Me­dia In­ter­face) is an­other fea­ture that works like clock­work and, thanks to mul­ti­ple con­nec­tiv­ity op­tions, pair­ing your smart­phone with it is very sim­ple. The steer­ing is new and has con­trols mounted on it to han­dle Blue­tooth tele­phony and more.

We love the com­fort and sup­port of the front and rear seats as there is am­ple leg-, knee- and head-room in­side the cabin. The rear seats are quite com­fort­able for av­er­age-sized adults; how­ever, if you are a rather tall in­di­vid­ual, you might find the rear knee­room a smidge tight. Apart from that, there is hardly any­thing to grum­ble about. The boot space is gen­er­ous and there is a

sun­roof as well, which makes the cabin feel roomier than it ac­tu­ally is. Over­all, the new A3’s aes­thet­ics and cabin are just as good as be­fore al­beit with a slight touch of con­tem­po­rari­ness added to them.

Now, since this is a facelift, Audi de­cided not to med­dle with the pow­er­train; which means that you get the same great 2.0-litre TDI en­gine that pow­ered the pre­vi­ous ver­sion. This 1,968-cc tur­bocharged in-line four diesel mo­tor pro­duces 143 PS and 320 Nm, and is mated to a six-speed S-tronic dual-clutch au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. We have tested this en­gine in the past and we are de­lighted ev­ery time we drive a car that fea­tures this en­gine, the A3 be­ing no ex­cep­tion. The smooth­ness of this mo­tor is some­thing that we have al­ways ap­pre­ci­ated for it feels ul­tra-re­fined for a diesel. There is hardly any au­di­ble diesel en­gine chat­ter that fil­ters through into the cabin and this makes driv­ing a plea­sur­able ex­pe­ri­ence.

What we like the most about this en­gine is the way it de­liv­ers that torque. Now, on pa­per the torque comes in at 1,750 rpm and stays till 3,000 rpm; how­ever, you can feel the surge long be­fore that mark. More­over, there is hardly any no­tice­able turbo-lag. You get un­in­ter­rupted ac­cess to the torque right from the be­gin­ning, which makes the A3 35 TDI a very easy car to drive. The six-speed S-tronic box also does a great job of go­ing through the cogs seam­lessly.

As for per­for­mance, the new A3 TDI is pretty sim­i­lar to the ear­lier car as there are hardly any changes to the en­gine and the gear­box. It goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 10 sec­onds, has a top speed of over 200 km/h, and re­turns a good 15-16 km/l. Thus, per­for­mance-wise the new A3 TDI is surely a value-for-money car just like be­fore.

Just like the en­gine, the chas­sis and sus­pen­sion have also been re­tained from the ear­lier car, which means it is still a great car to drive. The chas­sis has the right mix of rigid­ity and flex and can take what­ever you throw at it with gusto. And that sus­pen­sion seems as if it was de­signed keep­ing our roads in mind. It han­dles pot­holes, ditches, un­du­la­tions and every­thing else like a hot knife go­ing through but­ter, and that too with­out mak­ing the pas­sen­gers ner­vous or scared. This gives the A3 a per­fect ride qual­ity which allows you to keep driv­ing the car for long dis­tances with­out feel­ing any fa­tigue.

This very sus­pen­sion also en­dows the A3 with su­perb han­dling. It has the right amount of damp­en­ing, al­low­ing you to push it from one cor­ner to an­other with­out break­ing into a sweat. It han­dles di­rec­tional changes ab­so­lutely well and in­spires con­fi­dence, en­cour­ag­ing one to push harder and harder. There is hardly any no­tice­able body-roll, which fur­ther aids con­fi­dence. We en­joyed the drive as the A3 has the right mix of lux­ury and driv­ing dy­nam­ics, which ac­tu­ally is true of all Audi prod­ucts.

At Rs 35.29 lakh (ex-show­room), the A3 35 TDI is a very good bar­gain vis-à-vis its ri­vals. It gives you the right mix of tech­nol­ogy and lux­ury while be­ing highly eco­nom­i­cal. As for the ef­fects of the new changes, they have made the A3 look more con­tem­po­rary with­out ham­per­ing the ex­cel­lent mix of dy­nam­ics and lux­ury.

The A3 is a de­light­ful car and the new one feels noth­ing less than ex­cep­tional

( Left) New head­lamps and bumper add some sharp­ness to the A3’s front-end

( Be­low ) Old rear-end still looks good

( Left) The tried-andtested 2.0 TDI en­gine is flaw­less

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