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Old 11th August 2014, 10:49   #1
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Default Audi A3 : Official Review

The Audi A3 has been launched in India at a price of between Rs. 22.95 - 32.66 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• Clean & timeless design. Styling similar to its bigger brothers
• Premium quality, inside out. Excellent interior fit, finish & feel
• Competent engines: Torquey fuel-efficient diesel & fast petrol
• Quick dual-clutch transmission with smooth shift quality
• Rich dynamics, strong grip levels and solid stability
• 5 star safety & kit (6 airbags, ESC, ABS, ASR, all disc brakes)
• Equipment: Bi-xenon headlamps, MMI system with 7" screen, sat-nav, dual-zone climate control etc.

What you won't:

• Compact size. Length is comparable to the VW Vento!
• Uncomfortable rear seat. Headroom (especially) & legroom are in short supply
• Long-term reliability concerns over the DSG automatic
• Electric power steering lacks the feel & feedback you'd expect in a driver's car
Premium plus variants are priced dangerously close to the A4, 3-Series & C-Class
• The larger Jetta & Octavia are cheaper. A3 has a lot in common with the Skoda
• Paddle shifters, smartkey entry & go and memory seats are conspicuous by their absence

Last edited by GTO : 11th August 2014 at 11:02.
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Old 11th August 2014, 10:50   #2
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Audi was the last among the German big three to enter the Indian market. However, with an aggressive strategy in place, it has zoomed past BMW & Mercedes to grab pole position on the sales chart. Last year, Audi became the only luxury car manufacturer to sell over 10,000 units in a year. No doubt, this was accomplished by its long product line-up (including 3 SUVs) and discounting (sample ad). The A3 will be the 12th Audi to be launched in India, and has the A4, A6, A7 & A8 sedans as its bigger brothers.

The Q3 met with considerable success in its trimmed down form, badged as the Q3S. Starting at Rs. 25 lakh, it is the cheapest Audi you can currently buy. The A3 sedan could end up being the entry level 4-ringer if it's positioned below the Q3S. Audi does get a head-start by being the first in the compact luxury category, with no signs of rivals from Mercedes (CLA) and BMW (2-series) in sight. In terms of badge, the immediate competitors seem to be the A & B-Class from Mercedes and the 1 Series from BMW, all three being hatchbacks. That said, the real competitors will be cars from its sister concerns, namely the VW Jetta and Skoda Octavia, with which the A3 has a lot in common.

The A3 was introduced in the European market less than 2 decades ago. Available only as a hatchback for the initial two generations, it has now gone on to be adapted as a sedan, hatchback, sportback and cabrio. We previewed the 3rd generation car at the 2014 Auto Expo (link). It was showcased in its sedan as well as cabrio avatars with a 1.8 TFSI Quattro drivetrain. Sadly, the Quattro won't be available even as an option in our market at the moment. Local assembly has already commenced at the Aurangabad factory; the A3 is the 6th Audi to be assembled in India (others being the A4, A6, Q3, Q5 and Q7).

Audi is back to its design sharing mantra across the model range. From the A3 to the A6, their face is very similar. The untrained eye would be hard-pressed to tell whether it's an A3 or A6 approaching in the rear view mirror. The only difference lies in their size, with the A3 being at the bottom of the chain and thus, the smallest of the lot. It's footprint is only slightly bigger than the VW Vento. No comparison with the VW Jetta or Skoda Octavia which are similarly sized to the A4. If you attribute luxury with size, the compact A3 isn't for you. Look elsewhere.

Like the new Octavia, the A3 uses VW's latest MQB (Modularer Querbaukasten) platform. The MQB focuses heavily on weight reduction and the A3 diesel tips the scales at 1340 kgs, while the petrol variant is even lighter by 45 kgs. To put things in perspective, the C-Class weighs 1,600 kilos. A lot of components have been built out of lightweight material to achieve the weight reduction targets. The bonnet, for instance, is made out of aluminium.

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Thankfully, the A3 doesn't have the oodles of chrome that Indians associate with premium'ness. Except for the front grille and window sills, Audi designers have given chrome a miss. This helps in retaining the 'sportiness factor' associated with such a small sedan. Clean & understated lines with a well-proportioned body are a typical Euro trait that the A3 wears. It's compact size aside, the A3 has timeless styling. The front & rear overhangs are short and the sedan has a wheelbase of 2637 mm, which is about as much as the Jetta. However, that long wheelbase doesn't translate into a spacious cabin (covered in detail later). On the side, the A3 gets two distinct lines - one at the waistline that stretches from the tail lamp to the headlight, and the other sloping upwards between the front & rear wheel arches. The side skirts try to create an impression of a low slung sedan, yet the ride height has been increased to clear bad roads and tall speed breakers. The subsiding roof line reduces the overall door height at the back, resulting in tight ingress for tall passengers. Additionally, the tapering roof line restricts headroom for rear seat occupants.

Build quality is typically German with a solid feel to it. The doors open in 3 stages at the front and 2 at the rear. As expected, shut lines are tight and uniform across the car.

A 'rough road' package is standard on the Indian A3. What you get is increased ground clearance, complete underbody protection and an upgraded horn . Despite running on 5-spoke 17" rims shod with 225/45 tyres, the wheel arches have enough space to accommodate larger 19" wheels. Even when we drove over broken rural roads, the A3 didn't bottom out at all. If you're big on ride comfort, you could choose 16" wheels with taller tyre sidewalls for a smoother ride. Our test cars came with an array of rubber choices - Dunlops, Continentals and Pirellis. The Dunlops were made in Germany.

Aggressive front end. Looks similar to other Audi sedans, mainly the A4:

A3's small footprint is evident from the side. Notice how the roofline slopes downward around the C-pillar, making ingress / egress a task for taller adults:

Tight rear end:

Bi-xenon headlamps in action. They do a great job of illuminating the road during those night drives:

Headlamp cluster includes the turn signals. DRLs are white LEDs:

Trapezoidal foglamps are neatly integrated:

From the front three quarters, the A3 looks quite compact:

Dipped nose gives it a sporty stance:

The waistline stretches all the way from the front headlamps to the tail lamps:

Smart 5-spoke 17" rims. Wheel wells look big enough to take a larger size:

Wheel arches get full cladding. No mud flaps:

Despite these side skirts, ground clearance isn't hampered:

ORVMs with blinkers:

Front doors open wide in 3 stages:

Shark fin antenna, anything taller would interfere with the panoramic sunroof which opens over it:

Very small sunroof open area:

In ventilation mode:

Tail lamps with LED DRLs:

Reversing camera is hidden from view. Number plate lights are LED as well:

Audi has done away with conventional badges that indicate the engine's size. The badging now has a number (in multiples of 5) that denotes the 'performance factor' of the model. The faster the car, the higher this number. For instance, the A3 petrol is badged 40TFSI as its 0 - 100 time of 7.3 seconds is quicker than the diesel (8.6 seconds):

Dual exhausts with a black honeycomb surround:

'Rough road package' brings underbody protection. Notice the higher ground clearance:

Head to head with the A6. The A3 is so small that it makes the A6 look like an A8 in this image!

Same face, only smaller:

Last edited by GTO : 11th August 2014 at 11:03.
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Old 11th August 2014, 10:50   #3
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The beige & black interior option:

Duck inside this low slung sedan and you'll immediately notice the plush, well-crafted interiors. Audi is known for its superior cabin quality and fit & finish. The interiors are put together using a combination of soft-touch plastics and leather.

The compact exterior dimensions result in a tight cabin. Available space is strictly for a couple with two children only. If you are a taller person, the back seat simply isn't for you. You'll be uncomfortable due to the lack of headroom, knee room and under-thigh support. Add to that, the backrest is too upright. The seat base at the front as well as rear is quite short and compromises under-thigh support.

You can choose between black or beige upholstery. Without an iota of doubt, black would be my choice as its easier to maintain and looks sporty too. Beige, however, makes the small cabin feel roomier and more airy. A drastic change in the A3 is the move away from a conventional center console. The stereo is a non-entity (as seen in the picture) and integrated into the all-new MMI system. Standard across all variants, the MMI has a 7" monitor with a control knob placed behind the gear lever. This rotary knob acts as your command center. Buttons surrounding the knob are used to pick & select menu options that pop up on four corners of the screen. Audi designers obviously worked toward an uncluttered & easy-to-handle interface with bare minimum buttons to tap. The rotary knob also has a touch pad that recognises handwriting with precision, even if you use your left hand to write on it. This makes searching and other typing related functions a cake walk. Moreover, the use of toggle switches (for radio <-> media and navigation <-> phone) has further reduced the number of buttons. All in all, this interface is very intuitive and simple to get accustomed to. You can plug in your iPod / USB drive using MDI-specific cables in the center armrest. The glovebox houses a CD player, SD card input slots and a 20 GB hard-drive for your media.

The front seats are firm and both of them get electric adjustment. Ergonomically, the cabin is well thought out with important switches & controls within easy reach. The leather-wrapped steering wheel has integrated MID & stereo buttons. Replace the hornpad logo with that of Skoda and bingo, you've got the same steering as the Superb and Octavia! The lack of paddle shifters is a serious omission. Whether you use them or not, it would definitely add to the premium feeling in what is meant to be a self-driven car. Due to its European genes, the indicator stalks are on the LHS, while the wiper stalk is on the RHS. The footwell area, reading lamps, cabin lights as well as vanity mirrors deploy white LEDs.

The A3 has a dual-zone climate control system. However, since I've tested the car in the monsoon season, I'll leave judgement on its summer performance to Team-BHP's ownership reports. All front vents resemble jet turbines. What's unique about these vents is that you can push / pull their center button to spread the air out, or focus air into a single draft. The air vents are surrounded by a chrome bezel that shuts them off completely when turned to the 3 o'clock position. Yes, there is a rear air-con along with under-seat vents for those at the back.

The all-black interior colour option:

Leather-wrapped 4 spoke steering wheel is nice to hold. Adjustable for rake & reach, both:

Steering-mounted controls are a breeze to operate:

Sporty speedometer console is clear to read. LED bars (instead of needle gauges) for temperature & fuel:

No start-stop button on the A3. Our test cars also came with knee airbags, as seen in this picture:

Euro-spec headlamp switch sits on the dashboard RHS. Instrument cluster's brightness level can be adjusted using a pop-out rotary knob:

The door pads get a mix of leather & soft touch materials. They house a woofer and mid-range speaker for a 3-way setup. Tweeters are located on the A-pillar:

Front doors can take 1 liter bottles placed diagonally. Rear doors can only accommodate 500 ml bottles:

The S-Line's door sill:

All 4 door handles get a small white LED. Door lock & unlock button only on the driver's door:

All 4 windows have the one touch up / down feature. ORVMs can be heated, adjusted and folded with a single multi-tasking knob:

Well-bolstered seats, although there is a lack of under-thigh support due to the short base:

Both front seats get electric adjustments, including for lumbar support. No memory function though:

The Milano leather upholstery:

Front seatbelts get height adjustment:

Driver footwell with an adequately sized dead pedal:

All mats latch onto the floor:

The only ill-fitted part in the entire car was this bonnet release lever:

Tap-down switches for the parking lights, traction control and MMI screen add to the sporty feel:

The dual-zone climate control:

Typical PRNDS gear lever. Tiptronic is activated by pushing it to the left:

MMI screen hidden from view when powered off:

7" LCD screen is easy to read:

Reversing camera in action. Orange line depicts the projected direction as per steering input:

Toggle switches to move through the navigation, telephone, radio and media player. The placement of these controls is very ergonomic. Top-end variant gets hold-assist functionality, next to the electronic parking brake:

The central rotary knob has a touchpad with handwriting recognition, here's my attempt at writing "Audi". It's quite swift in identifying the letters being typed:

Shallow glovebox can barely hold anything other than the owner's manual. It gets felt lining and a light:

20 GB jukebox, CD player and SD card input:

Two cup-holders with a small cubby hole for your cellphone. White light surrounding the cup-holders is a classy touch:

Center armrest is reasonably wide. Can be adjusted fore & aft, and for height:

Under the armrest is a deep storage area. It also houses the MDI interface to connect your iPod using proprietary cables:

Vanity mirrors get LED lights:

Rear-view mirror should have been wider. It is auto-dimming:

Left ORVM gets a convex mirror on the far end:

Last edited by GTO : 11th August 2014 at 11:04.
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Old 11th August 2014, 10:50   #4
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Default re: Audi A3 : Official Review

Interior - Rear

All rear seat occupants get three point seatbelts. ISOFIX available to anchor infant seats in place. The XL-size center armrest gets two cup-holders:

Back seat is very cramped. The limited space will be a deal breaker for many:

Minimum & maximum legroom:

Tall floor hump makes the 5th occupant unwelcome:

Legroom with the front passenger seat placed all the way forward. Underthigh support missing for tall passengers:

They won't find any headroom either:

Rear air-con and a 12V power socket for your smartphone:

Additional A/C vents under the front seats:

Seat back is scooped out. Useful storage nets:

Small quarter glass sits between the door frame and C-pillar to bring in additional light. The rear seat still feels claustrophobic:

Nifty hooks on the B-pillar to hang those takeaway bags:

Rear grab handles get coat hooks:

Rear cabin lights powered by LEDs:

425 liter boot:

Extends up to 880 liters with the rear seat folded down:

Center armrest area can be opened from the cabin as well as the boot. Useful for carrying long items or to access the boot from inside:

Provision for tying down a net (to secure loose cargo):

Space saver wheel frees up boot space:

Last edited by GTO : 11th August 2014 at 11:05.
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Old 11th August 2014, 10:50   #5
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New EA288 series diesel engine:

Internationally, the A3 is offered with several engine and gearbox combinations. A total of 6 petrol & 3 diesel engines with varying displacements are available for the A3. The product team has decided to keep it simple for the Indian market. You can choose from either a 1.8L TFSI petrol mated to a 7-speed automatic or the 2.0L TDI diesel with a 6-speed automatic. Bigger brother - the A4 diesel - uses a CVT which gets a lot of flak for its sluggish response. The A3 gets dual-clutch DSG transmissions which Audi calls the 'S-Tronic'. These are essentially the same DQ200 & DQ250 DSGs used in a host of other VW group cars. We still have concerns over the DSG's long-term reliability (related thread). Unfortunately, a manual transmission or the 'Quattro' AWD system isn't on the options list.

Audi expects the diesel motor to bring in a chunk of sales. Therefore, the media drives included the A3 diesel only. The new 2.0L turbo diesel + DSG combination was first seen on the Skoda Octavia. Power ratings are 143 BHP (@ 3500 - 4000 rpm) and 320 Nm torque (@ 1750 - 3000 rpm). This EA288 series diesel engine is an all-rounder. It offers excellent driveability, consistently good fuel-economy and fast highway performance. The new family of diesels is specific to the MQB platform, but goes a step further in modular architecture. VW calls it the MDB or Modular Diesel Engine System. VW has 2 engines with this architecture, a 1.6L and this 2.0L. Both can be customized by bolting on components, depending on the target market’s emission requirements (i.e. EU4, EU5 and EU6). EU4 markets get a catalytic converter that is placed closer to the exhaust manifold. The EU5 version gets a DPF (Diesel Particulate Filter) while the EU6 engine gets a NOx storage catalytic converter / SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) system. Apart from the exhaust treatment, the intercooler has been integrated with the intake manifold as a single module. For improved NVH levels, this engine uses balancer shafts with low friction bearings. Internationally, the diesel has an output of 148 BHP; it appears that the Euro 4 variant is slightly down on horsepower.

No start / stop button for the A3, you have to fire it up using a conventional flippy key. Start the engine and you'll notice there is nearly zero penetration of engine sound inside. A distinct hum is audible if the surroundings are dead quiet, yet there isn't much clatter due to the well-insulated cabin. Rev hard above 3,000 rpm and you'll hear the diesel thrum (surprisingly more audible on the back seat!). However, at cruising speeds, refinement is top class. Wind & road noise are also filtered out well.

In-city driveability is excellent. The absence of lag means the A3 makes light work of city traffic. The 2.0 diesel has ample torque at lower revvs. What also helps is the responsive nature of the engine and how quickly its revvs climb up. On your daily drive through rush hour traffic, you'll only need to give the engine light accelerator inputs. The diesel is immensely practical for urban commuting. To maximise fuel efficiency, the DSG shifts up quickly and reaches top gear at speeds as low as 60 kph. Shift quality is smooth & seamless. Plus, due to the additional torque, downshifts aren't as frequent.

The 2.0L diesel is incredibly free revving and easily hits 5,000 rpm. The torque available gives you a proper kick and you’re pushed back into the seat. On the highway, this engine + gearbox combination shines. You simply don’t realise the speeds you’re doing! Expressway performance & cruising ability are of a very tall order. The mid-range packs a solid punch too. Drive with a heavy right foot and you'll make fast progress on the highway. The A3 can be an outstanding long distance tourer. At 100 kph, the engine is spinning a shade below 2000 rpm, and right at the start of the torque band. The 2.0 diesel is a sleeping devil in this situation; relaxed, but ready to pounce when the need arises.

“D” mode offers almost no engine braking, “S” mode is better if you're in the mood to play. The DSG holds onto gears longer and will downshift to rev match as soon as the speed reduces...even if you’re not pressing the throttle. I didn’t use the Tiptronic a lot, as manual mode isn't as much fun in diesels. The 6-speed wet clutch DSG is effortless, although not as quick to shift as the petrol's 7-speed DSG. Downshifts from high speed (for a quick overtaking move) are especially delayed. Downshift response time in some situations remains its Achilles' heel. It's probably a good idea to switch to manual mode when overtaking.

Ride quality is compliant, but not plush. The suspension has a firm edge to itself which is obvious at low speeds. Those 17" wheels don't help either. Sharp bumps are transmitted into the cabin. Like most European cars, the A3 rides flat at high speed and you don't even have to slow down for uneven roads.

The suspension is identical across the diesel & petrol variants. The front comprises of McPherson struts with lower wishbones and an all-aluminium subframe. The rear is a multi-link suspension, unlike the Octavia diesel's cheaper torsion beam setup. A multi-link arrangement leads to superior overall dynamics. The 'rough road package' gives the A3 noticeably more ground clearance than its Euro / USA versions. Despite that, the handling is very competent. It does have the DNA of a typical European car. Grip levels are solid and the A3 sticks to its track under hard cornering. This stable behaviour is confidence inspiring for the driver, while the small size makes the A3 immensely chuckable. The suspension regains its composure quickly if you hit road undulations...say, the type before & after a small bridge on a smooth highway. A host of electronic safety features (ESC, ASR, ABS) are watching over how you drive, and ready to kick in should the need arise. The electric steering doesn't provide BMW-like feedback, no. Within the city though, it is light enough to operate.

Braking is absolutely spot-on with discs on all 4 wheels. The pedal has a good bite and the car stops in a straight line, even when the brakes are slammed at high speed.

Battery gets a felt lining cover. The ECU is sandwiched between the battery and fuse box:

The diesel has underhood cladding:

XL-sized end can. Diesel complies with Euro 4 emission norms while the petrol is Euro 6:

Last edited by GTO : 12th August 2014 at 12:26.
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Old 11th August 2014, 10:50   #6
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Default re: Audi A3 : Official Review

Other Points:

• Recent engine upgrade to the A4 notwithstanding, the A3 is bound to eat into the A4's sales.

• ARAI fuel efficiency: 20.38 kpl for the diesel & 16.60 kpl for the petrol.

• Thumbs up for retaining a temperature gauge with contemporary LED bars. The fuel gauge has a similar arrangement.

• Fuel tank capacity is 50 liters.

• Turning radius is 5.5 meters.

• The petrol employs a near about square block engine (82.5 x 84.1 - bore x stroke).

• A huge shout-out to Talented Moderator Stratos for post-processing my review pictures!

Disclaimer : Audi invited Team-BHP for the A3 test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event.

Last edited by GTO : 11th August 2014 at 11:06.
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Old 11th August 2014, 10:50   #7
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The Smaller yet Significant Things:

Headlamp washers are mandatory for cars with HID lights in most European countries. They activate with the windscreen washer (only at an interval of >15 minutes):

GPS navigation in action! These instructions are also displayed on the MID:

Vehicle checks & settings on the MMI screen:

A wide & useful net in the front passenger's footwell:

All door handles have an empty groove where the keyless entry button should have been:

All four doors have a warning light...

...while puddle lamps are placed under:

Recommended tyre pressures are on the higher side:

Rear seat gets 60:40 split:

Reflective jacket is neatly placed under the rear seat:

Top tether to anchor a child seat

Inside the trunk is a spring-loaded pair of hooks to hang bags:

Space for an auxiliary battery:

Safety triangle tucked under the boot lid:

A different bumper without front parking sensors on the base variant. 16" rims with 205/55 rubber:

Lower spec A3 with normal headlamps & missing DRLs:

No fog lamps!!

Last edited by GTO : 11th August 2014 at 11:06.
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Old 11th August 2014, 11:11   #8
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Default Re: Audi A3 : Official Review

Thread moved from the Assembly Line to Official Reviews. Thanks for sharing, rating thread a well-deserved 5 stars!
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Old 11th August 2014, 12:03   #9
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Default Re: Audi A3 : Official Review

The review looks fantastic and beautifully compiled. Kudos to the team. How can Audi not give Fog lamps and DRL's in low end A3? too bad.
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Old 11th August 2014, 12:24   #10
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Default Re: Audi A3 : Official Review

Nice detailed review with very good images. The location of the review looks great, where was it?

Also a small correction, the 'P' switch would be for the 'Park Assist'

Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post

Tap-down switches for the parking lights, traction control and MMI screen add to the sporty feel:

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Old 11th August 2014, 12:36   #11
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Default Re: Audi A3 : Official Review

That was a lovely review. I was a bit apprehensive on the rear space and you confirmed it :-(
It would have been the first German marque I bought. Still, no harm in considering it for a test drive and then deciding.
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Old 11th August 2014, 12:41   #12
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Default Re: Audi A3 : Official Review

Originally Posted by Maverick5490 View Post
Nice detailed review with very good images. The location of the review looks great, where was it?

Also a small correction, the 'P' switch would be for the 'Park Assist'
Yes, P is for turning off front parking sensors. We referred to the hazard lights as parking lights.

Thanks Maverick!

Last edited by moralfibre : 11th August 2014 at 12:43.
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Old 11th August 2014, 13:08   #13
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Default Re: Audi A3 : Official Review

Loved reading the review moralfibre. Detailed but concise. Love it.

Fear the big germans are also skimping on basic features on base variants. As stated by igybeck, they should have housed in fog lamps and DRL's on all variants.

The top range A3 is well kitted. Looking forward to reading the review of the petrol engine.
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Old 11th August 2014, 13:10   #14
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Default Re: Audi A3 : Official Review

Originally Posted by moralfibre View Post
Apart from the exhaust treatment, the intercooler has been integrated with the intake manifold as a single module.
I believe there is a similar arrangement on the lil VW GT TSI.
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Old 11th August 2014, 13:15   #15
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Default Re: Audi A3 : Official Review

Excellent review moralfibre and to boot fantastic pictures. Duly rated 5 stars.

With respect to the new badging on the Audi cars, I think it is a bit arcane. The excitement at seeing a 3.0 TDi or 2.7 TFSi is gone. Too much reverse engineering to be done to figure out the power plant on a particular car.
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