Audi almost made their A4 redundant when they churned out the sedan iteration of the A3. What was originally a hatchback, grew a wagon and saloon model. And with that latter derivative created a fun-sized version of the A4, and perhaps ultimately its superior.
It used to be, plainly, that the A3 was the hatchback to the A4’s sedan. No more, now smaller in dimension than the A4 but in no way in short supply of pragmatism, the current generation feels as big as an A4 of two generations ago. As stated earlier, you can get your A3 in three-box sedan, hatchback cum wagon (Sportback) or cabriolet profiles, with a range of engine options. As for sportiness you’re verily covered with the S3 and RS3 models – proper fire breathers. This isn’t that.
Rather, this is the ‘everday’ 35 TFSI model with a turbocharged 1.4l engine under its grey bonnet. It’s yours for R576k in base trim sans any extras or options, makes 110kW and 250Nm, and can sprint from standstill to 100kph in 8.2 seconds. It will top out at 227kph but if you’re the efficient sort, is also capable of burning a mere 6.1l/100km.
Of course, you’ll forget all the numbers once you tear your eyes away from its svelte, steely exterior and slip into its pleasant, tactile and ergonomic cabin. Beyond this, you’ll encounter the necessary controls to the aforementioned performance, a leathery helm, Tiptronic wand and two eager pedals. So, how does it go? To reiterate what I said about the interior, it’s pleasant. The blown 1400 has enough shunt to carry its compact executive weight with confidence, whilst the thick steering wheel feels weighty and full of flavour. Despite its sharpish aesthetic, the entry-level A3 is no sportscar nor does it pretend to be, but it remains to be a fun steer. I’d never call it affordable or cheap but can we agree that at R600,000 or so, there’s not a lot to rival it when it comes to a posh mini-luxo barge that avoids the pretentiousness so common in this segment. I like this car. I think it’s honest. Of course, if you don’t need a sedan but you still want a car that fits into any premium setting at this price point, there’s always that GTI waiting in the wings. But that’s a life above the radar, and far too much attention for me. What do you think, did I get this wrong?