Audi A3 TDI on Economy Class

2016 Audi A3 1.6 TDI 110 S-tronic Sportback Attraction

Last time I tested the TDI 110 HP engine, I was impressed with the low consumption.

Third generation A3 came in 2012.

Third generation A3 came in 2012.

Every major automaker has a couple of all-round engines – engines that recur in several models and become big sellers. I tested it two years ago in a Seat Leon. I was impressed with the low fuel consuption and predicted that this engine could well become Volkswagen Group’s new all-round engine. Little did I know that it should take two years before it appeared in the model lineup for Audi.

4Look-and-feel

basic Interior

basic Interior

I can’t remember last time I entered a basic version of Audi – just like this. The seats could at best be described as mediocre. The gray textile was unpleasant to touch. The same textile was found on the inner lining of the doors and on the center armrest. This Audi had very few of those options that create the basic feel-good I generally get inside an Audi.

Anyway, the S-tronic emblem on the gear knob, the control wheel on the console, the controls on the steering wheel and the infotainment screen that automatically popped up when I put the ignition on, gave me hints of premium class – albeit in the basic version.

On the outside, things looked a bit better. Chrome roof rails, 16-inch alloy wheels, Xenon Plus and separate daytime running lights. I think Audi A3 is a beautiful car.

This A3 looks great.

This A3 looks great.

4Driving

After leaving Barcelona Airport, we continued on to Ronda de Dalt on our way to Girona in north. It was not rush hours, still the traffic was dense and moving at about 80 km/h (50 mph). Several times we had to brake and accelerate rapidly to follow the traffic flow. I noticed that the A3 did not cope well with this. It was hard to make it shift down gently. The Fiat Panda behind us, passed us. Slightly annoyed, I had to tilt the shift lever over to the right to downshift manually. Maybe this happened because the car was brand new, or because the S-tronic was programmed to ignore driver’s attempt to drive uneconomically.

I am sure the busy city traffic must be a nightmare for intelligent gearboxes programmed for economy. The S-tronic does not have any “Eco” mode. It works in either “D” (normal) or “S” (sport). I think the “S” mode is too fussy. Eventually, after a couple of days, I found these situations happened less frequently. Maybe the brand new engine needed a few more kilometers to perform well? – Or perhaps my right foot got more familiar with the gearbox?

In fact, I am quite familiar with S-tronic as I drive another Audi S-tronic on regular basis.

However, at full throttle, everything worked as it should. I went from a standstill to 100 km/h (60 mph) a couple of times, and that happened effortlessly. I believe the factory figures are correct: 0-100 (0-60) in 10.7 seconds. This is actually very good.

The TDI’s high torque was with me from low revs. It gave me the feeling of driving a powerful engine. But at highway speeds, that feeling gradually faded away. So did the good feeling of being inside an Audi. I could not help thinking that this fine 110 HP engine might have worked even better in a Golf (Rabbit) with DSG.

The A3 was otherwise very stable on the road, even at highway speeds with strong winds. On the road the A3 felt like a mix between the Golf (Rabbit) and the A4.

Sportback is Audi's term for hatchback.

Sportback is Audi’s term for hatchback.

4Comfort

A profiled motor journalist once wrote that Audi’s standard seats were not meant to be used for real, as all customers would choose upgraded seats, anyway. If you’d like to sit comfortably in an Audi, you’ll have to order proper seats from the options list. Everyone knows that.

Even though the seats were a little dull-looking, they were quite comfortable. The cushions were a bit soft, with good lateral support. I prefer a low seating position, so I can rest my right arm on the center armrest. The only thing I really missed, was a little better thigh support.

I liked the sound from the TDI engine. With automatic transmission it sounded like a powerful and expensive driveline, especially when accelerating from low speeds. In the Seat Leon, I tested earlier, I could hardly hear the engine at all. I know that Audi has special engineers working with audio performance, and I imagine that such a fine sound had to be created by someone.

At highway speeds the sound from the engine got more and more influenced by the fact that it, after all, is a moderately motorized car. There is a limit to everything.

The space of a standard Golf, but no wagon.

The space of a standard Golf, but no wagon.

4Space

To me, the term Sportback indicates some sort of a wagon – at least in a light variant. The cabin felt quite spacious, but the trunk is no where near of being a wagon. It takes 380 liters of cargo. The sloping rear window steals any vertical space. By folding down the rear seats, you’ll get 1220 liters. This is virtually identical to the Volkswagen Golf (Rabbit), which the A3 shares its platform with.

Good breaking performance.

Good breaking performance.

4Safety

The ties to Golf (Rabbit) seems obvious also in the NCAP crash tests results. The A3 has almost identical results as Golf, and came in the top ten list the year it was tested.

Active safety is good, due to its safe handling. It feels very stable. Like the Golf, it’s designed to handle blunders drivers often do. I would particularly emphasize the good braking performance.

Nicely designed climate panel with a hint of retro style.

Nicely designed climate panel with a hint of retro style.

4Economy

I measured an average consumption of between 0.55 to 0.60 liters per 10 kilometers. My consumption figures were higher than I previously experienced with the same engine in Seat Leon. According to factory figures the consumption should have been 0.35 liters per 10 kilometers on country roads and 0.45 for urban use. I think my higher consumption figures could be explained by the fact that the car was brand new, and that most of my driving happened at highway speeds.

The list price of an A3 with TDI 110 HP S-tronic is NOK 323 600. No one actually buys a new Audi without adding additional equipment from the options list. What I missed the most in “my” A3, was upgraded seats, parking sensors and navigation. I would also pay for Adaptive Cruise Control (€ 340) and B & O sound (€ 930). Once you’ve got that installed, you don’t want anything else. We are talking about equipment packages at about NOK 40-50 000, but I believe that would be necessary in order to keep a nice trade-in value.

A simple, but stylish layout.

A simple, but stylish layout.

Conclusion

The TDI engine of 110 HP and a torque of 250 Nm gives the feeling of driving a bigger engine than the number of horsepower would imply, as long as you keep driving within the correct engine rev intervals. The S-tronic transmission, which is based on Volkswagen’s DSG, is still the world’s leading double-clutch automatic system. I think it did a good job of delivering forces to the road, although it sometimes tangled itself into some kind of eco mode.

Whichever way we look at it, this A3 has a moderately motorized driveline with ambitions of extremely low consumption figures. Perhaps the most sensible choise of A3 you can make today. In the 11 days I had the car, I spent the most time on French country roads, although most of the miles were covered on highways. I think the A3 loved the country roads at most …

… and I loved every trip I took.

positive1
• Low consumption.
• Stable and safe handling.

negative1
• Sometimes the S-tronic puts itself in eco mode.
• Audi’s basic seats does not look stylish as you’d expect in a premium car.

This TDI is not affected by VW's emission scandal.

This TDI is not affected by VW’s emission scandal.

Looks nice even though it is a lot of gray plastic.

Looks nice even though it is a lot of gray plastic.

Spring in Catalonia

What a beautyful spring in Catalonia.

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