Volkswagen Golf R 2014 review: road test
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Australians are moving away from large cars into smaller ones, but many are refusing to accept any loss of comfort or performance. And if possible they would like a solid dash of prestige at the same time.
Between you me and the gatepost, you'd buy an Audi A3 in front of the larger A4 every day. Why? Apart from costing substantially less, the new generation A3 looks almost the same as its bigger brother and offers only marginally less room inside.
This is the third generation A3 which has form going back to 1996. It was part of a push back then to deliver premium compact cars to more discerning buyers and nothing has changed.
It means plenty of goodies for buyers - the latest powertrain technology, eco-efficiency and generous luxury kit as well as the desirability factor in a concentrate. But Audi still offers options up to your eyeballs if you so choose.
Starting point for the new five door A3 Sportback (a sedan, wagon and three door variants follow), is $35,600 for the 1.4 TFSi petrol Attraction complete with a seven-speed dual-clutch S-Tronic transmission, paddle shift, auto lights and wipers, tyre pressure monitor, parking assistance, cruise control and plenty more.
Driver assist features are available, many as options or part of an option pack. They include adaptive cruise control, side assist, active lane assist and pre-sense for collisions. A driver information readout is standard along with rest recommendation.
The green vehicle rating is five stars.
Four engines are available, two petrol and two diesel and all are force fed turbos. The petrol 1.4 and 1.8 TFSi units feature direct fuel injection and variable valve timing.
The smaller unit achieves 90kW/200Nm while the larger capacity unit is good for 132kW/250Nm. The diesels are in 1.6 and 2.0-litre capacities with the former good for 77kW/250Nm and the latter 110kW/320Nm.
The 1.6 diesel is economy king sipping an astonishing 3.9-litres/100km. All engines attain 5.6-litres/100km economy or better on the combined cycle.
A3 has two grades, Attraction in the two smaller capacity engines and Ambition in the two larger. All have an S-Tronic gearbox with all but the 2.0-litre diesel getting seven cogs. It has a six-speeder.
A six-speed manual 'box is available on petrol models on customer order. Drive goes to the front wheels through an electronic limited slip differential.
The desirable 'drive select' system that alters calibration of the steering, gearbox and engine is on the higher grade Ambition models.
Audi cut A3's weight by using aluminium for the bonnet and front guards as well as suspension components. It's shed up to 85kg compared with the previous model.
The new A3 is built on Audi's latest modular platform shared with VW's Golf 7 that is set to underpin a whole range of models from both manufacturers into the future. The platform optimises interior space as well as forming a solid base for all functions of the recipient car.
Safety rating is five stars.
We drove a selection of new A3s in Queensland and found it difficult to pick a favourite. All have excellent ride and handling characteristics capable of smoothing rough roads while delivering sporty cornering and other dynamics.
The 1.8-litre TFSi was possibly the pick and is the same price as the 2.0-litre diesel. Now there's a difficult call.
The interior has a classy look to it with highlight metal ringed air vents and an understated look to the controls. The bank of piano key switches under the retractable info screen is a stand out interior feature.
It's quiet, composed and classy. Better than a Golf 7? Maybe.
Audi A3 Sportback
Price: from $42,500
Warranty: 3 years/unlimited km
Service interval: 12 months/15,000km
Safety: 5 stars
Engine: 1.4 and 1.8 4-cyl turbo-petrol or 2-litre turbo-diesel; 103kW/250Nm and 132kW/250Nm or 100kW/320Nm
Transmission: 6 or 7-spd dual-clutch auto or 6-spd manual; front drive or AWD
Thirst: 4.7L/100km/5.6L/100km or 4.2L/100km; 95RON; 110/130 or 108g/km CO2
Dimensions: 4.3m (L), 1.8m (W), 1.4m (H)
Weight: from 1205kg
|1.8 TFSI Attraction||1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$14,900 – 21,010||2013 Audi A3 2013 1.8 TFSI Attraction Pricing and Specs|
|2.0 TFSI Ambition||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$19,000 – 26,510||2013 Audi A3 2013 2.0 TFSI Ambition Pricing and Specs|
|S/Back 1.4 Tfsi Attraction COD||1.4L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$11,600 – 16,940||2013 Audi A3 2013 S/Back 1.4 Tfsi Attraction COD Pricing and Specs|
|Sb 1.8 TFSI Quattro Ambition||1.8L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$14,400 – 20,350||2013 Audi A3 2013 Sb 1.8 TFSI Quattro Ambition Pricing and Specs|