The 1.4-litre TFSI model is replaced by this new 1.0-litre version - will potential buyers feel shortchanged?
Photos by Azfar Hashim
Remember when our roads were once filled with 1.0-litre sedans like the Suzuki Swift and Daihatsu Charade? Those models, popular in the early 1990s, sold like hot cakes as it offers the space the average Singaporean family unit needs, low maintenance costs and most importantly, affordable pricing. Well there were a myriad of hatchbacks available too, but having a boot is always welcomed. To be honest those cars weren’t the best for your money, but hey, it does the job honestly (pun intended), as stated on the label.
Fast forward to present day and guess who brought that concept back, albeit in a more premium package? Tadaa… Audi.
This car here, ladies and gentlemen, is 2017’s A3 sedan for our market. Besides an exterior refresh exercise, the 1.4-litre A3 TFSI has been phased out, for something that is more economical in every sense of the word. Well, we know how ‘economical’ and ‘premium brand’ don’t gel, but it seems Audi is bold enough to go against that school of thought with their very decision to replace it with a new 3-cylinder variant.
Yeap you’re reading that right. The turbocharged 1.0-litre, 3-cylinder unit, initially offered only in the A1, has made it into the A3.
But before you pass off any unfounded judgement, allow me to hold you right there and let you know just how lively this car is. Surprisingly for city driving, pick up and power delivery is fizzy enough ensuring you do not get left behind from the rest of traffic. It is both able and strong, surprisingly; performance doesn’t feel much different than its predecessor as well.
400 cc down and 1 cylinder less, but performance is no where lacking
Paired to a 7-speed dual-clutch S-tronic ‘box, this A3 here puts out 115 bhp with a maximum 200 Nm of torque available from 3,500 rpm. Now just to recap: The previous 4-cylinder 1.4-litre whips out only 7 bhp more, with similar torque figure. Hence technically speaking, Audi’s magic ensures the new A3 doesn’t lose out despite the smaller capacity.
And Audi did not scrooge on the equipment list despite this car being an entry-level model. MMI with GPS comes standard, you don’t have to pay extra cash for front and rear parking sensors, auto engine start/stop, cruise control and lastly, Audi Drive Select.
The A3’s cabin retains Audi’s build quality, which is hard to fault to say the least. Panel gaps are not obvious to the naked eye, control buttons are clearly labelled and the seats are comfortable; however I am sorry to report only the driver gets an electronic seat. Boot capacity on offer here is 425-litres, which is still highly usable even if you’re the sort who, ahem, treats that space as a store room…
Audi chose to be safe with the ride and handling department. While the steering feels precise, the suspension is tuned to deliver the perfect balance between sporty and comfort; as a point of reference, think the Golf, but just slightly tauter. And thanks to its compact dimension, the A3 easily shows off its playful side by allowing you to take corners fast and aggressively despite running on 205/55 R-16 all-rounder Goodyear Efficient Grip rubbers.
Ok, I am not going to waste any more of your time, so this is my conclusion: Here you have it, a talented entry-level Audi sedan that is highly packaged to attract anyone - from the buyer looking for their first premium car, all the way to the small family.
The bigger bonus? Brilliant fuel economy - we clocked an average 17 km/L according to the on board computer - and $392 annual road tax. Audi, you have a genuine winner here.