First drive: Updated Audi A3
First, the SQ7, then the A4 and now the A3... Audi is on a roll, isn't it?
Yeah, it is. But wait. The A4 is all new, and the SQ7 is a heavily altered version of the Q7. However, the A3 you see here is a mere facelift.
What do you mean? It's just a facelift?
Yeah, most changes on this A3 are cosmetic. So, it gets new headlamps, grille, bumpers and new tail lamps. These changes don't make a world of a difference in the way the A3 looks, but it certainly refreshes things. After all, it's the first change that the A3 gets after it hit the dealerships back in 2012.
So no changes to the chassis? No new engines, too? Just some changes in the design?
You're partly right.
Yeah, it is based on the MQB platform - it was the first Audi to be based on that - and there have been no changes made to it now. In fact, the platform is so good that it doesn't need any sort of tinkering, but it does get a new engine. The diesel remains the same, 2.0-litre turbocharged unit that churns out 148bhp and 320Nm. The petrol, though, is an all new block. It displaces 2000cc, 200 more than the one that's doing duty on Indian cars, and develops a good 188bhp and 320Nm.
Wow\\! Tell me more about it...
Well, don't get too excited just yet; there's no official word from Audi India yet, but it may be the one coming to India, in all probability. In terms of behaviour, it has a fairly linear power curve and the new seven-speed gearbox complements it well. It revs right up till 6500rpm and has ample go from quite low in the rev range, staying strong till the red line. With this new engine, the A3 petrol now makes 50 more horses, but still misses out on the quattro.
What about the ride and handling?
Not much change there. The driving dynamics remain to be almost identical to the current A3, which isn't a bad thing. We never had anything bad to say about A3's handling characteristics in the first place. We even successfully managed to do 24 hours on a racetrack in the A3, remember?
Umm, I don't remember...
Okay, click here once you're done reading this.
What more do I need to know about the new A3?
You need to know that there are some small, yet important changes in the cabin too. Most of the layout remains the same, but you now get a virtual cockpit as an option.
Like the one of the TT and the Q7?
That's right. It's a completely digital instrument cluster that shows up the dials, multimedia info and satnav. It's quite funky and convenient to use, trust us.
Is there no performance version of the A3?
There is, the S3. It has the same 2.0-litre petrol engine, but tuned to put out 306bhp and 400Nm. It can crack a ton in just 4.6 second. But wait, don't get to excited. It's not coming to India. Sigh.
So when can I buy this A3?
By the end of this year, after the new A4 comes to our shores.
And how much more will I have to pay for all the new toys and the facelift?
Our guess is about Rs 50,000 more than the current A3.
You think it's worth that wait and the extra dough?
Well, as we told you earlier, it's not that big a change. But you'd certainly miss the virtual cockpit. And more power if you opt for the petrol.