BMW 1 Series 2018 review
The BMW 1 Series is not only a real BMW, it could be a real reason not to get a Benz A-Class or an Audi A3 Sportback.
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If there are to be any name changes then surely I should be first? I mean Dick Berry; who calls their son that? Well, they named me Richard, but still...
Anyway, I have more reason to do change my moniker than the Audi A3 1.4TFSI Sedan, which recently had its name changed to the 35 TFSI.
So, what does it all mean?
I'll do my best to solve that riddle, along with giving you the answers to other questions about the A35 TFSI Sedan, from what it's like to drive, to its safety features, and how practical and fuel efficient it is.
|Audi A3 2019: 35 TFSI (1.4 TFSI)|
|Engine Type||1.4L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
In my view, the second-most-beautiful small, four-door saloon on Earth is the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Sedan. But the top award has to go to the Audi A3 Sedan. And that's saying something, because while the A-Class Sedan has only just arrived, the A3 Sedan has been around since 2013 - and it still looks stunning.
Yes, there has been some cosmetic surgery – the grille has grown and the headlights have been redesigned, but mostly everything has been left as it was when it first appeared six years ago.
That's a good thing, because it's beautiful; from that sharp character line which leads down the side to the little boot lip, to the perfect proportions which make it look like a mini Audi A8 limousine.
And it is small. The dimensions show it to be less than 4.5m long, two metres across (counting the side mirrors), and only 1.4m tall. How does that affect practicality? Hold your horses, we're getting there.
The A3 35 TFSI Sedan's cockpit has a modern design with clean styling, but that seven-inch media screen is beginning to look small compared to the latest, larger ones now that have now become common. The 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster you can see in my images (sorry about the dirty windscreen) looks amazing, but it's an option.
A3s, no matter what the grade, have almost identical cabins as standard – so you're not missing out on much in the way of luxurious touches by choosing the entry car. They all have the same aluminium inlays and metallic treatment on the air vents. The seats are leather, but they aren't the same sports buckets you'll get on the higher grades.
The A3 35 TFSI Sedan has five seats, but I'd only want to sit in two of them – yep, the front ones. Rear headroom is limited by that roofline to the point that I can't sit comfortably in the back (but I'm 191cm), but even if it was good, I've got almost zero leg room behind my driving position.
Boot space is good at 425 litres (85 litres more than the Sportback's cargo capacity), but cabin storage isn't terrific with two cupholders in the front but none in the back (you'll need to option them), a small centre console bin and tiny door pockets in the rear, but decent-sized ones in the front.
As for power outlets – there are two 12V points (one in the front and another in the rear) and one USB port which is for charging only.
The 35 TFSI is the entry grade of the A3 Sedan range, with a list price of $42,300. Just an FYI, that's $2300 more than the same grade in the Sportback range. Yes, you're being asked to pay more for the same car with identical features, only it has a sedan-style boot.
Those features include the seven-inch screen, sat nav, a CD player, an eight-speaker sound system, leather upholstery and dual-zone climate control. There's no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto and no wireless charging pad...
The standard running lights are LED but the headlights are Xenon. If you want LED headlights, you'll need to option those, and you can with the $2400 Style Package that was also fitted to our car. That pack also adds rear indicators which light up in the direction you're turning, 18-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension and the 3D design 'Optic' Titanium grey inlays.
Our test car also had the $3400 Technik Package fitted, which brings a more premium navigation system, a 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster, sports steering wheel and paddle shifters, plus digital radio.
The Glacier White Metallic paint our car wore costs $1190 and the heated front seats that were fitted are another $600.
The value isn't terrific... actually, it's not even good. Yes, the quality, fit and feel of the A3 sedan 35 TFSI Sedan is outstanding, but compared to small cars generally, it's expensive and lacks features such as adaptive cruise control, which you'll find on cars half the price.
Even some of its rivals are better value. The Benz A180 hatch has the same list price as the A3 Sedan but comes with more features, such as the two giant 10.25-inch screens, LED headlights, auto parking, keyless start and digital radio.
The 35 TFSI Sedan has a 1.4-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine making 110kW and 250Nm. You may have noticed that officially it is called the A3 35 TFSI CoD. The 'CoD' stands for 'Cylinder on Demand' and refers to this engine's cylinder deactivation ability to run on just two when cruising. The fuel saving advantages to this are obvious, but what if you don't do a lot of cruising? See the fuel section below.
It's pretty astounding that an engine this small can make 110kW, but still that's not a huge amount of grunt, and the 40 TFSI above it in the range, with its 140kW, would be my pick.
Now, what the heck does the 35 in 35 TFSI mean? And for that matter, the 40 in 40 TFSI? Well, in 2018 Audi began changing those numerals after the model name, swapping the 1.4 TFSI for 35 TFSI.
Previously the 1.4 indicated the size of the engine, but now the numerals hint at how much power it makes. So, 35 is the designation for an output of between 110 and 120kW; 40 is for 125-150kW; 45 is for those that make between 169 and 230kW and so on all the way up to 70, which is for an output greater than 400kW.
The lowest power an A3 Sedan comes in is the 35, but the Sportback has an even lower output entry grade – the 30, which is for Audis that makes between 81kW and 96kW. In the case of the A3 30 TFSI Sportback, if you're playing at home, it's 85kW.
Clear as dirt mixed with water? Thought so. Back to the story.
The 35 TFSI has a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, which isn't as smooth as a regular auto, but it shifts faster than one for a sporty driving feel.
The 1.4-litre turbo petrol engine has cylinder deactivation and when not under load it can run on two cylinders alone. Audi says that after a combination of open and urban roads the A3 35 TFSI should use 4.9L/100km.
At the end of my week with the A3 35 TFSI I used 10.2L/100km, but I have to say that higher figure is down to driving it almost the entire time in the city (and also with a bit of enthusiasm). Having driven the entire A3 range I know that balancing this with motorway miles will bring that figure down dramatically.
If your only two criteria for a new car are that it be good looking and great to drive, then stop reading and buy the A3 Sedan now. Seriously, even though the engine in the 35 TFSI isn't that powerful, the balance and feel of the car when it was in my hands was excellent.
I've driven the entire A3 line-up from the 1.0-litre 30 TFSI to the RS3 monster at the top of the range, and it only gets better as you step up through the grades and models, with each adding more power and agility. But even at the very entry level that DNA is there for a great driving experience.
Our car was fitted with sports suspension that oddly comes with the Style Package, and even with the low profile 225/40 R18 Bridgestone Turanzas the ride was still comfortable and compliant.
The low centre of mass helps keep life composed, too. After having tested so many SUVs lately which often have a bouncy, rolly ride, it was refreshing to steer something low and composed; one that handled flat around corners and didn't become unsettled with a sudden change of direction.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
The A3 35 TFSI sedan was given the maximum five-star ANCAP rating when it was tested in 2013. Safety technology has come a long way since then, and while the A3s made in late 2018 have AEB which is designed to detect other cars and pedestrians, we'd like to see other equipment made standard, too.
We're talking about blind spot warning, lane keeping assistance and rear cross-traffic alert. If you want these on any A3 you'll need to option them with the Assistance Package.
For child seats, you'll find two ISOFIX mounts and three top-tether points across the rear row.
A space-saver spare is under the boot floor.
The A3 35 TFSI is covered by Audi's three-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty. Servicing is recommended every 15,000km or 12 months. That type of coverage used to be the norm five years ago, but now as more car makers move to five-year warranties, we would expect Audi to do likewise.
A service plan is available – it's a three-year/45,000km program which cost $1680.
This low score is down to the short warranty and a lack of service-by-service capped-price plan that spans a longer time period.
|35 TFSI (1.4 TFSI)||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$49,800||2019 Audi A3 2019 35 TFSI (1.4 TFSI) Pricing and Specs|
|40 TFSI QTR (2.0 QTR TFSI)||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$59,500||2019 Audi A3 2019 40 TFSI QTR (2.0 QTR TFSI) Pricing and Specs|
|40 TFSI SPORTBACK (2.0 TFSI)||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$55,900||2019 Audi A3 2019 40 TFSI SPORTBACK (2.0 TFSI) Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI QTTRO SLNE S/B BLK ED||2.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$51,900||2019 Audi A3 2019 2.0 TFSI QTTRO SLNE S/B BLK ED Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||6|
|Engine & trans||7|
“Great looking and good to drive, if only the A3 35TFSI Sedan was better value for money, had more advanced safety tech and a little extra room.”
You really want an A3 Sedan. Do you wait for the new one to arrive which will be different but probably better? Or do you buy a what could be a future classic now? Tell us what you think in the comments below.