AUDI A3 35 TDI
We drive the new A3 but in its diesel avatar
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